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COVID could launch an epidemic of chronic fatigue syndrome, doctors warn: Live COVID-19 updates

Even as the latest COVID surge recedes, doctors and patient advocates warn that the virus could leave a new epidemic in its wake: millions more cases of the rare, mysterious condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome

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Researchers increasingly see parallels between chronic fatigue syndrome, which affects 1.5 million Americans, and long COVID, the barrage of symptoms including exhaustion, persistent pain and cognitive impairment that can linger for months in some patients. 

The connection between the two disorders is still being studied, but some research suggests the pandemic could more than triple the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME. 

“When we saw COVID happening, people in the ME community were some of the first to raise alarm bells that this was going to be a mass disabling event,” said Robert Sklans of Metuchen, a board member with the advocacy group #MEAction Network. “We were looking at the symptoms of long COVID and saying there are going to be a boatload of people with ME/CFS.”

While research into COVID’s long-term impact is still in its infancy, there’s evidence hat one in 10 infections may develop symptoms of chronic fatigue. That would equate to about 7.7 million cases in the U.S. 

— Gene Myers,

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Also in the news:

► A judge blocked Boston Mayor Michelle Wu from imposing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on certain classes of firefighters and police officers on Tuesday.

►The Biden administration is telling Congress that it needs an additional $30 billion to press ahead with the fight against COVID-19, officials told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

►Starting this Thursday, vaccinated guests will no longer need to mask up indoors across most of Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Face coverings will still be required for all guests ages 2 and older on enclosed Disney transportation at both resorts, like shuttles and monorails.

►There will be no vaccination, testing or masking requirements at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Country Music Festival when they return in April to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif., organizers announced Tuesday.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 78 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 925,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 415.1 million cases and over 5.8 million deaths. More than 214.1 million Americans – 64.5% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: Research during the COVID pandemic has shown Americans are enjoying the health benefits of being outdoors more than ever — but outdoor recreation is still largely dominated by white Americans, and nearly all other races continued to lag, or even stopped getting outdoors during the pandemic in disproportionate numbers.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

NJ Supreme Court rejects union bid to block COVID vaccine mandate for prison guards

The New Jersey state Supreme Court has rejected a last-minute appeal by the state’s largest police union to block Gov. Phil Murphy’s vaccine mandate for workers in high-risk settings, meaning more than 11,000 county and state corrections officers have until Wednesday to show proof of vaccination or risk a loss of their jobs. 

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner penned Monday’s three-page order, which said the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association did not deserve a stay pending appeal because it had not shown that its claim rested on settled law or had a reasonable probability of success, or that relief was consistent with the public interest, among other things.

The high court’s ruling extinguishes the union’s hope that a judge would step in to block Murphy’s mandate, which requires that workers in high-risk environments, including hospitals and jails, get the COVID-19 vaccine or face discipline, including possible job loss.

— Steve Janoski,

Aides can keep substitute teaching after Iowa lawmakers approve an emergency rule

Instructional aides may continue to substitute teach in multiple classrooms once Iowa’s emergency pandemic proclamation expires this week after lawmakers met Tuesday to approve an emergency rules change.

Iowa public schools were worried that the expiration of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ public health disaster proclamation this week would worsen their staffing shortages since the proclamation relaxed the rules for some school staffing, like allowing the aides — known as paraeducators — to substitute teach in multiple classrooms.

The rule allows paraeducators with substitute teaching authorizations to work as a substitute in multiple classrooms with emergency permission if the school shows a documented need for them to fill that role. Normally, paraeducators’ work involves assisting teachers in the classroom and they are only authorized to substitute teach if they are assigned to a specific special education classroom.

— Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register

Contributing: The Associated Press

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