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UA receives $7.3M from CDC to join long COVID project

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are trending high in the state.

But experts are still wrestling with the complexities of long COVID.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project at University of Arizona could provide a better grip on the condition, especially in underserved communities.

The CDC has named UA Health Sciences as one of five sites nationwide to join in its effort, called Tracking the Burden, Distribution, Impact of Post COVID-19 Conditions in Diverse Populations for Children, Adolescents, Adults (Track PCC).

Track PCC is an effort to grasp the burden, spread and impact of post-COVID conditions across all ages.  

A $7.3 million grant will support the establishment of Arizona Track PCC, which will partner with the Arizona Department of Health Services to monitor long COVID progression in 1,000 or more people over a two-year period.

Arizona Track PCC will collaborate with CoVHORT, a UA-ASU partnership established early in the pandemic to track COVID-19 effects in Arizona.

CoVHORT Research has previously suggested that 68.7% of its 8,500 participants still had symptoms 60 days after infection, although researchers struggled with a common long-COVID problem: how to tell the effects of SARS-CoV-2 apart from those caused by pre-existing conditions, undetected chronic illnesses or pandemic-induced fatigue and anxiety.

The group will also work with community health centers to spotlight long COVID’s impact on Arizona’s unique rural and cultural populations, and to focus on people with special health care needs. Community partners include the Mariposa Community Health Center, El Rio Community Health Center, MHC Healthcare, the Sunset Community Health Center, the Chiricahua Community Health Center and Children’s Clinics of Southern Arizona.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.