Coronavirus Can Feel Like a Stomach Flu…And Media Often Doesn’t Talk About It

A couple of weeks ago, I had what felt like a long-lasting stomach flu. The rest of my family, around the same general time period, also came down with what felt like the same long-lasting stomach flu.

Thankfully, it likely was a stomach flu, or perhaps a norovirus. I say this because on both rapid tests and PCR tests, my younger brother and I both tested negative for COVID.

Yet, along the way with these stomach bugs, my family learned from our family pharmacist that a lot of people who feel like they have stomach flus actually have the Coronavirus. This is something that a lot of news media doesn’t seem to be covering, so I want to: a) highlight how COVID right now can resemble a stomach flu and b) highlight the injustice about the fact that media isn’t giving more attention to this fact.

North of the border in Canada, there are reports of more patients with the virus whose primary symptoms involve stomach issues, such as vomiting.[1] Back at home here in the United States, the Mount Sinai Health System here in New York reports that COVID-19 may cause stomach flu-like symptoms, even if there are no issues with breathing.[2] Unfortunately I was not able to find statistics on precisely what percentage of COVID cases, particularly with this Omicron variant, have symptoms primarily involving the stomach, but it’s clearly a large enough percentage to get the attention of a large hospital system in New York as well as public broadcasting media in Canada.

And it seems like media is giving little, if any, attention to the fact that COVID could present itself as predominantly (or solely) like a stomach flu. This is unfortunate and unjust because, quite frankly, it is leading a whole population of people (of which I was one) to think that if you have symptoms that resemble a stomach flu, you can just brush things off as a stomach flu. In doing this, a large number of people may end up having COVID and not realize it.

So, I hope media does a better job of covering how the virus can act like a stomach flu. And, in general, I hope that news media really doubles down on making sure the general public is educated on what sorts of symptoms to look out for with this virus, as well as continue to highlight the fact that one can have the virus asymptomatically.

Until then, though, I want all who read this post to realize that if you have what feels like a stomach virus, you should test for Coronavirus, and at that, ideally test with a PCR test (since those are more accurate than at-home tests). Perhaps you have a stomach flu, but perhaps you have COVID-19 instead.

Note: I will not publish a blog post next Monday.


[1] https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-gastro-symptoms-1.6431665

[2] https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/viral-gastroenteritis-stomach-flu

Access to Free Coronavirus Testing: An Important Issue

The other day, I was searching for where I could get a free Coronavirus test. Namely, I was looking to hopefully get what is called a PCR test—the test that usually takes a couple of days to get the results from, but is also very accurate.[1] And so, I called around and looked around to see where I could get my test.

The first place I called said that their test would cost $290. When I first heard this, I asked whether he meant $2.90, stunned that it could possibly be $290. But it was $290. A place taking advantage of legitimate fear about the Coronavirus to charge nearly $300 for a test that you can get for free in certain places should be ashamed of itself.

The second place I called said that their test would cost $125. Okay, so it’s not as bad as $290, but it is still far from free.

Eventually I was able to get a free Coronavirus test from a public hospital that was about 15 minutes away from where I work. I was blessed. Yet, I left myself feeling extremely bothered by the fact that a place had the gall to charge $290 (or even $125) for a test that everyone should have easy access to in order to make sure that they are not spreading the virus (even asymptomatically, which can commonly happen even among vaccinated individuals) to other people. 

My experience here leaves me with a bothersome question: Are there other places where the only testing options nearby are places charging ludicrous fees? I hope the answer is no, but I fear that the answer is yes.

Even if the answer is no, an effort needs to be made to make sure that as many of the testing sites as possible are made as cheap as possible (ideally free). That way, instead of having a few free testing sites in each area where the lines are long, there are a lot of free testing sites in each area where the lines are short and the chances of coming across someone else with the virus are relatively low. After all, one should desire for it to be as easy and quick as possible to get tested, so that they can see whether they have the virus and need to act accordingly.

But if the answer is yes, then I personally think this is something where government needs to step up its game and provide free options for testing. In a case where we’re trying as best as we can to control the spread of the virus, it seems ridiculous that we would have areas devoid of free testing sites so that it is practically impossible to get a low-cost or no-cost test for the Coronavirus.

Ultimately, with the fact that even fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus and spread it, it is extremely important that we make sure that all people, regardless of vaccine status, have easy access to free Coronavirus testing. This is an important issue indeed, because nobody should have to pay $125, let alone $290, just to see whether they have the virus and could potentially spread it to others.


[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/covid-19-diagnostic-test/about/pac-20488900