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

Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 5, 2022

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you live.

Even though I have now had a couple of close brushes with COVID (another scare happened soon after Easter, when one of the people I ate Easter lunch with outdoors tested positive a few days later), I continue to remain COVID-free as the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant continues to spread in New York City. The rest of my household also remains without COVID.

Speaking of boosters, I am glad to say that my parents received their second boosters! Both of them experienced some side effects from the second booster, but getting the second booster still most certainly beats getting hit seriously with the virus itself. And as a side benefit, our household got four free COVID tests! All the tests expired at the end of April though, so we had to use them quickly (and use them we did).

The BA.2 subvariant, on the other hand, continues to spread significantly in New York City. The level of spread is, at least for me, high enough to act with caution, high enough for me to currently avoid larger gatherings while being unmasked, and high enough to not want to eat indoors right now. It also means that when I go to a gathering with several people, I like to get tested so as to make sure I wouldn’t contribute to a super spreader event of any kind.

One sobering note I will end this post on is that there is a high likelihood that we will have surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID by the time I write my monthly update in June. We are approaching as many lives lost as there are people in San Jose, California. If that isn’t sobering, I don’t know what is.

That is it for me, for now. As always, I look forward to hearing how others are faring!

Why People Should Mask Indoors, Regardless of What a Judge Says

An image of masks

Most Americans who follow the news have at this point heard the ruling from a judge striking down federal mask mandates for airplanes, trains, and other forms of public transportation.

Some celebrate the ruling. Others look at it with dismay (me being one of them). I say that every single American should mask up on public transit, and other indoor areas, without giving a care about what some judge said.

Here’s the thing—judges are supposed to be legal experts, not public health experts. So to make an individual public health decision, such as whether one should wear a mask on a bus, based on a ruling from an apparent legal expert who’s not a public health expert, is simply ill-advised. It makes about as much sense as using a judge’s court decision to help you decide whether to take a vaccine, use a certain medicine, or use a certain treatment for an illness you are experiencing, because judges, in most cases, are probably not experts in the medical field.

And speaking of public health, the public health is such that it is simply not wise to drop the masks on public transit yet. It’s not wise because the virus, while not as deadly as it used to be, is claiming hundreds of lives a day,[1] and therefore remains far more lethal than a seasonal flu.[2] It’s not wise due to how it leaves the immunocompromised, who are at greater risk of serious illness or death than other populations, vulnerable to the virus. It’s also not wise because it leaves the little children who are currently unable to get vaccinated—those under the age of 5—vulnerable as well. And it’s not wise because we don’t know how many people end up with long COVID from the current strain of the virus.

Believe me, I don’t find masks comfortable at all, and I long for the day that I can make decisions on what to do with my daily life without having to keep the pandemic on my mind. But we are not there yet—not while we have a pandemic far deadlier than the deadliest flu seasons, and not while the lethal nature of it leaves some of the most vulnerable among us particularly vulnerable.

And yet, in spite of the imperative to protect these vulnerable populations, some people or individuals have a tendency to care more about their own freedom to be unmasked than the wellbeing of the vulnerable people around them. To those who feel that way, all I can say is that I hope and pray that you learn to care about someone other than yourself and your own desires; namely, that you learn to care about the most vulnerable among us in any situation, including and especially the one presented to us by the current pandemic.

And so, for the sake of caring for others, it is (still) time to mask up indoors.


[1] https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

[2] The flu claims 12,000 to 52,000 lives each year. As of the time I am writing this piece, 346 Americans a day are dying of COVID on average, which means over 126,000 deaths if we were to multiply the average number of deaths by the number of days we have in a calendar year: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 7, 2022

I hope that all of my readers are safe, regardless of where you are.

I had a close brush with COVID-19 last week when I learned that I came into contact with someone who tested positive. Things were therefore a bit nervy for a few days because of worries that I would test positive, and in the process inconvenience both my own life and that of my immediate family. Thankfully, my tests have come back negative, so somehow, some way, I remain COVID-free. While I know I have taken a more cautious approach to the pandemic than many, it still remains somewhat of a mystery to me how I have been able to remain COVID-free to this point. Regardless, I am grateful that at least for now, I have dodged this virus.

Where I live, which is New York City, is seeing the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant spreading. This is happening after we experienced some rapid declines in case counts between mid-January and mid-February, as the Omicron surge was subsiding. I don’t know if it’s time to panic quite yet, especially as it seems like there is a lot yet to learn about this subvariant. However, with medical experts continuing to urge vaccinations as the best way to protect yourself against BA.2,[1] it is rather unfortunate that my city exempted certain groups of people (local performers and athletes) from workplace vaccine requirements. After all, all this policy seems to have done as far as I can tell is muddle messaging around how important vaccinations are and empower the anti-vaccine crowd–the last things we need at a time when we need more people getting vaccine shots and boosters.

Speaking of certain requirements being loosened, a part of me wonders how much this increase is due to how transmissible BA.2 is and how much the increase has been due to the loosening of certain restrictions in recent weeks. As I reported in my COVID update post at the beginning of last month, some pandemic restrictions were being loosened here in New York City, so I can’t help but wonder if we’re now seeing the results of letting go of the pandemic before the pandemic is letting go of us.[2]

Those are the updates from my little corner of the world. As always, I welcome updates from others!


[1] https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/5-things-to-know-omicron

[2] Here’s my COVID update post from last month: https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2022/03/03/coronavirus-update-from-new-york-city-march-3-2022/

American Health Care and Responding to the Long-Term Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the Omicron variant having settled down, it seems like the “health care system” (putting that phrase in quotes because, in the words of a former journalist by the name of Walter Cronkite, I believe it is “neither healthy, caring, nor a system”[1]) can perhaps take a bit of a breather, at least until the next variant. If there is another catastrophic variant, that is, and I hope there won’t be one.

Yet, even if there isn’t another variant, health care systems around the world, including the one in the United States, will in a way be responding to the long-term impacts the pandemic has had on people for years, if not decades, to come. And I am concerned about the American health care system not giving people with said impacts the sort of health care that is required.

But first of all, who are the people with these long-term impacts?

Some of us will possibly be COVID long-haulers who will need physical health care. We are learning more about the long-haulers as we go along, but it may turn out that some will end up with long-term or even permanent impacts that will affect their daily lives due to neurological conditions,[2] among other things. Regardless, the long-haulers are a population that will be dealing with long-term impacts from COVID, quite possibly, long after the pandemic ends.

However, many more of us will be people who need mental health care of various kinds due to the emotional trauma that the circumstances of COVID have caused. A wide range of populations will need this mental health care in some way, shape, or form, ranging from family members who lost loved ones due to the pandemic, to hospital workers who have emotional trauma from working in hard-hit hospitals, to people whose personal economic fortunes turned completely upside down due to the pandemic and never recovered. Dealing with the effects of trauma can be lifelong, and as such, dealing with the effects of COVID-related trauma may also be lifelong.

I have no idea how many people will need COVID-related physical health care and how many will need COVID-related mental health care after the pandemic, but I’m guessing that it will be a sizeable number of people in the United States—perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even in the millions. What I do know is that there will likely be a lot of people who will need one or both things, and that if preparations are not made for that long-term reality now, people are going to be hurt quite badly (physically, emotionally, and otherwise) by how poorly prepared our health care system is, by how American health care has a nasty tendency to leave people either uncovered or undercovered for so many basic needs.

Nor do I know what preparing for such a reality may look like, as I am not a health care expert. Frankly, I’m not even sure if a lot of health care experts know what preparing for such a reality may look like, either. I’m not even sure if it’s possible for a health care “system” as broken as the one in the United States—a “system” where millions are uninsured, where millions more are denied coverage for so many basic needs, and where the politicians that could change this would rather keep the status quo then actually fix these problems—could ever be truly prepared for the potential enormity of caring for scars, both physical and emotional, that come from this pandemic. Possibly not. But if it is possible, those preparations need to happen, and happen now.


[1] https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/74350-america-s-health-care-system-is-neither-healthy-caring-nor-a

[2] https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/boston-doctors-explain-long-covid-and-neurological-symptoms/2509459/