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Latest COVID-19 News: What You Need to Know

Published by Nicole Porter on

There have been some recent significant developments in the realm of COVID-19. If you have been following the news recently, you’ve probably noticed that there has been increased coverage of COVID-19.

Over the summer we saw an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Additionally, a new highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (nicknamed “pirola”), has emerged. New COVID-19 vaccines have recently been approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC and we are awaiting updates about when exactly they will be available.

With all this in mind, we wanted to take a moment to provide you with the latest information on the current state of COVID-19 and related matters. Here’s a quick breakdown:

COVID-19 Trends and Variants

  • The variants behind the summer surge all belong to the XBB variant group (descendants of Omicron).
  • A new variant, BA.2.86 (also known as “pirola”) has emerged. It has over 30 mutations, setting it apart from other descendants of the Omicron strain.
  • Scientists anticipate that the booster expected to roll out soon will be a good match for the XBB variants and initial data looks promising for the vaccine’s effectiveness against Pirola as well

Current COVID-19 Statistics

  • While surveillance is not as comprehensive as earlier in the pandemic, recent CDC data shows an almost 19% increase in hospital admissions for the week ending Aug. 19 and a 17.6% increase in deaths for the week ending Aug. 26.
  • Test positivity rates have been rising over the past few months, reaching 14.9% for the week ending Aug. 26 (compared to 4% in June).


  • Many individuals continue to grapple with long COVID, experiencing symptoms that persist for months to years after infection.
  • Symptoms can range from extreme fatigue to cognitive difficulties, trouble breathing, and heart palpitations.
  • Long COVID can lead to new health issues like diabetes and heart disease. A recent Nature Medicine study found that, two years post-COVID-19 infection, even those with mild or moderate cases had a greater risk of health problems, including blood clots, pulmonary disorders, and diabetes, compared to those without COVID-19.

Rapid Testing and Variants

  • Rapid tests may yield a false negative during the initial days of an infection. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, consider taking multiple tests a day or two apart.

Access to Tests and Test Kits

  • Some of the free COVID-19 rapid at-home antigen tests that people received have had their expiration dates extended by the FDA. You can check here to see if the tests you have are included.
  • The federal government no longer provides free tests to everyone, but uninsured individuals and underserved communities may be able to access tests through outreach programs.
  • Private insurers may no longer cover test costs since the end of the public health emergency in May. It’s a good idea to check with your provider about any benefits that may be available to you.

We hope this summary helps to give you a clearer picture of the current status of the COVID-19 situation. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for more updates and information from VEAP as it becomes available!

Covid This Fall: What’s the Same, What’s Different and What to Know

Bowe, B., Xie, Y. & Al-Aly, Z. Post Acute sequelae of COVID-19 at 2 years. Nat Med (2023).

At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests