By Ken Bastida & Molly McCrea

STANFORD (KPIX 5) – In the Bay Area, the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are way, way down from earlier this year. Meanwhile, a new study from Stanford shows the health threat is far from over.

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Researchers collected and analyzed the results from dozens of studies on patients known as “long haulers.” They are COVID-19 patients who appear to recover, only to develop an array of debilitating and persistent health problems.

Their review found a surprising number of COVID patients, most of whom were hospitalized, suffer from long haul or long COVID syndrome.

“A little over 70% were reporting at least one symptom between two and six months later,” Dr. Steven Goodman said.

Goodman, professor of epidemiology and population health and of medicine at Stanford, is senior author of the report. Graduate student Tahmina Nasserie is the study’s lead author.

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In an interview with KPIX 5, Goodman said how Long COVID will certainly become a long-term legacy of the pandemic disease.

“It is not like the flu. When you recover from COVID, there is a certain percentage of people, and it’s not that small, are going to continue to have symptoms. And we’re going to have to figure out how to care for them and how to treat them,” Goodman said.

Researchers detected at least 84 different symptoms and clinical signs. The most commonly occurring symptoms were shortness of breath, fatigue, exhaustion and sleep problems.

Those with long COVID may face high health care costs, as the rest of us could face higher health care premiums.

“It could lead to an awful lot of people not functioning well in society and needing a lot of medical resources,” noted UC Berkeley’s public health expert Dr. John Swartzberg.

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Goodman predicted we will begin to see health care systems develop long COVID clinics to treat these patients afflicted with the syndrome.