Vol 3, Issue 74 APRIL 2022
The latest updates on COVID-19, testing, and vaccines curated for L2R school districts.
long covid news
swab & jab
The BA.2 Subvariant
The omicron subvariant, BA.2, is now the dominant strain around the world, in the United States, and in Washington state. Experts are watching case rates closely to predict future trends.
Here’s what to know:
- BA.2 is slightly more transmissible than the original omicron (BA.1) but does not seem to cause more severe disease.
- According to the CDC, the omicron subvariant BA.2 now accounts for the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the United States (54.9% as of March 26).
- BA.2 is driving upticks in several states, including New York, Connecticut, Texas, and Arkansas, but case rates in most parts of the country continue to decline.
- In Washington state, as of March 30th, BA.2 makes up 51.2% of all cases, a significant jump from only 20% of all cases reported in early March.
- As of March 31st, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), there are 44 cases per 100,000 population in Washington state and 5% of hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
- You can monitor your area’s case rate and hospital capacity on the DOH COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
- A little over 67% of people 5 and older are fully vaccinated in Washington state as of March 30th.
- Vaccination rates in school-aged children have slowed in recent weeks with ages 5 to 11 still lagging behind. Here are the figures from DOH as of March 30th:
- Ages 16-17:
- 67.4% initiated vaccination
- 61.9% fully vaccinated
- 43.1% received a booster
- Ages 12-15:
- 59.6% initiated vaccination
- 54.7% fully vaccinated
- 39.1% received a booster
- Ages 5-11:
- 36.4% initiated vaccination
- 31.6% fully vaccinated
- This age group is not yet eligible for booster shots.
- Ages 16-17:
- Vaccines and boosters are still the best tools to guard against severe disease caused by COVID-19 and any variants.
“While [BA.2] is slightly more transmissible than the original Omicron, our vaccines work, our boosters work, and it does not indicate more severe disease than the original Omicron.”
School-based vaccination events
It’s never been easier to host a vaccination event for your school community! Our DOH-approved vendors provide everything you need from vaccine procurement and administration, counseling, clinical monitoring, and onsite interpretation services.
Reach out to your L2R Program Manager today to schedule your events before the end of the school year!
COVID-19 cases among children & youth in Washington state
As of March 30, cases and hospitalizations among children and youth continue to decline. Here are the key findings from the DOH report on cases among those ages 0-19 from March 6, 2022 to March 20, 2022.
- There were a total of 1,275 cases reported for this period (67.6 cases per 100,000).
- The total number of cases (1,275) decreased by almost 53% compared with the previous two-week reporting period (2,698).
- The highest case rates were in Educational Service District (ESD) 121.
- The highest case rates were among 0 to 3-year-olds (77 cases per 100,000).
- There were 20 hospitalizations for this reporting period (1.1 hospitalizations per 100,000). This is down from 36 hospitalizations over the reporting period February 20, 2022 to March 06, 2022.
Atlas saliva tests are here!
The SalivaDirectTM assay from Atlas Genomics is the non-invasive test option that provides quick and accurate PCR testing for COVID-19.
No swabs needed! Participant samples go right from mouth to test tube with SalivaDirectTM. Saliva tests may be more accessible for students with special needs, sensory issues, sinus or nasal injuries, or other aversions to an anterior nasal swab.
Watch this short video to learn more about the sample collection process.
Interested in introducing saliva tests at your school? Reach out to your L2R Program Manager today to get started.
Testing strategies & supplies
Diagnostic testing and outbreak readiness are key components to an ongoing testing strategy.
During periods of reduced testing demand, it is important to keep certain safety measures intact. A combination of factors – the omicron subvariant (BA.2), relaxation of precautions, and waning immunity – may result in an uptick in transmission in the coming weeks. We encourage all L2R schools to maintain testing capacity for onsite diagnostic testing and outbreak response.
If you are considering changes to your testing supply or technologies, please reach out to your L2R Program Manager first to discuss the best approach for your school community.
Spanish Vaccine FAQs
Our Preguntas Frecuentes Sobre La Vacunación (“Vaccine FAQs”) provide up-to-date facts and figures about eligibility, safety, and efficacy of vaccines for school-aged children. Our goal is to promote vaccinations by empowering families with the information they need to make the right decisions for their children
Authorized use of expired iHealth & other rapid tests
Spikes in demand and potential disruptions to the supply chain can quickly decrease testing supplies during periods of increased transmission. Maintaining a reliable inventory of tests is essential as we work to maintain safe in-person learning through the end of the school year. To that end, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has authorized the use of rapid antigen tests, including iHealth, past their expiration dates to help preserve existing supplies.
Here’s what to know:
- DOH has approved the use of all rapid antigen tests, including iHealth, after expiration if the built-in quality controls (QC) are intact and correct results are obtained from QC tests. Read the DOH approval letter.
If there are any questions about quality control measures or use of your supply past expiration, please contact your L2R Program Manager.
Spotlight on Long COVID
What Doctors Wish Patients Knew about Long COVID
American Medical Association – 11 March 2022
It is estimated that anywhere from 10% to 30% of patients might experience long COVID after recovering—even if they weren’t very sick in the first place. This leaves many COVID long-haulers with questions about symptoms and what to do. One physician aims to clear up confusion about long-haul COVID-19 and what patients can expect.
Heartbreaking: How Long COVID is Affecting Children
Global News – 16 March 2022
A new study suggests that one in four children and adolescents will suffer some form of post-COVID-19 symptoms. Mood swings, fatigue, and sleep disorders are the most common.
Different Variants May Cause Different Long COVID Symptoms
The Hill – 31 March 2022
A new European study published last week found that different variants of COVID-19 may result in different long COVID-19 symptoms. The study found that the alpha variant of the coronavirus led to muscle aches and pain, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety and depression when compared to the original strain of the virus.
People with 'medium COVID' are caught in a gray area of recovery with little support
NPR – 17 March 2022
Waves of fatigue. The inability to smell milk that has gone bad. A racing heartbeat. These are just a few COVID-19 symptoms that can linger after an initial coronavirus infection. Though they may not always amount to the debilitating cases of long COVID-19 that can leave people bedridden, it’s very common to take weeks to fully recover — a condition I’ve been thinking of as “medium COVID.”
Experts warn of racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of long Covid
New York Times – 29 March 2022
It has long been clear that Black Americans have experienced high rates of coronavirus infection, hospitalization and death throughout the pandemic. But those factors are now leading experts to sound the alarm about what may come next: a prevalence of long Covid in the Black community and a lack of access to treatment.
Back-to-Office Pressure Is Creating a Crisis for Long COVID Patients
Time – 28 March 2022
Chimére Smith used to love her job as an English teacher in the Baltimore public school system. But she hasn’t taught since March 2020, when she caught COVID-19 and then developed Long COVID. Two years later, she still experiences symptoms including fatigue, migraines, blurry vision, chronic pain, and dizziness.
We need answers to these four long Covid questions
The Guardian – 30 March 2022
There are millions suffering through Long COVID every day, stuck in a twilight zone of never-ending debilitating symptoms for months, and now years, after infection. And with a reported 10-30% of infections leading to this condition, we are witnessing the greatest mass disabling event in human history.
1 in 4 symptomatic children get long COVID, a new study finds. What are the symptoms?
EuroNews.Next – 16 March 2022
Among the 80,071 children with coronavirus in the studies, 25 percent developed symptoms that lasted at least 4-to-12 weeks or new persistent symptoms that appeared within 12 weeks. The lack of peer review at this point means the research should be handled with caution, but the large amount of data it relies on could help shed more light on the symptoms most frequently associated with long COVID.
Drugmakers, scientists begin the hunt for long COVID treatments
Reuters – 25 March 2022
After producing vaccines and treatments for acute COVID-19 in record time, researchers and drugmakers are turning to finding a cure for long COVID, a more elusive target marked by hundreds of different symptoms afflicting millions of people.