A recent warning from the World Health Organization about what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in 20 years should have New Yorkers very concerned.

New York's Current COVID Rates

COVID-19 continues to spread throughout New York State. Here in Oneida County, we are still seeing a huge surge due to the recent holidays that saw families and friends mingling together in closed spaces.

WIBX's own Bill Keeler also battled COVID over the holidays and, according to him, it was the pits.

Covid Cases Rise Again Across Much Of The Nation
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At the moment, the New York State's Health Department's graph that tracks the overall number of positive cases statewide are showing numbers starting to trend downward. Interestingly, it also shows that this latest surge was one of the largest since 2022.

The good news is, new cases appear to be slowing with Oneida County's community risk level moved to "medium" by Covid Act Now, which tracks ongoing infection rates. However, the highest rates are among the densely-populated New York City and the surrounding areas, so we're not completely out of the woods.

Read More: COVID-19 Cases on the Rise in Central New York

While some of us are looking into the weeks and maybe months ahead, several organizations are looking decades into the future to see what the coronavirus will have in store for us.

According to the WHO, they don't like what they are seeing.

Mutations Raising Alarm

The WHO says the United States is grappling with its "second-worst" spike in COVID cases and warn the number of infections are probably much higher than reported. Due to the rising number of people being vaccinated, obtaining their booster shots, and overall gaining immunity from prior infections; data shows more people could now be walking around with the virus without knowing because they're not presenting any symptoms.

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That's the reason why wastewater sampling has become an invaluable tool in determining what areas are about to see a surge in cases, since researchers have been able to not only locate the virus in samples, but determine the percentage of an area's population that is actively combatting an infection.

That is why the WHO is urging caution amid a rise in asymptomatic cases because that could mean the virus is spreading to even more people. The more infected individuals, the more likely the virus will develop a nefarious mutation while replicating in its host, and some mutations can boost its transmissibility and symptoms.

The latter is especially what has doctors worldwide worried, because some people are already exhibiting bizarre new symptoms with the latest round of the new COVID variant, identified as JN.1.

The new variant has been found to be causing increased levels of anxiety and sleep disruption, which has medical experts investigating whether or not the virus mutated enough to now have an impact on the brain.

An Uncomfortable Prediction

The WHO is looking at all the purported side-effects of COVID and are concerned about the reports of the virus attacking one's cardiovascular system and nervous system - and leaving lasting damage. The virus has already been found to harm a person's respiratory system by damaging their lungs and triggering breathing issues.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said of the latest variant shows that it can be "more transmissible or better at evading our immune systems" than prior mutations.

The CDC also warned, "The types of symptoms and how severe they are usually depend more on a person’s immunity and overall health rather than which variant causes the infection."

That final part is what has the World Health Organization concerned.

As the virus continues to spread, its ability to mutate grows, thus increasing the virus' odds to develop new ways to chip away at our immune systems and create more cases of "long COVID".

Additionally, the WHO is looking into whether or not the virus is capable of causing serious issues in the body long after its exited the body. That is why the WHO is keen on learning as quickly as possible the potential health complications people will develop years down the line. Right now, it is still unknown how an infection today will impact a person 10 or 20 years in the future.

Furthermore, another concern is over the rise of asymptomatic cases, which has doctors worried how many times a patient of theirs will unknowingly be repeatedly infected and what kind of toll the virus will have on their body.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonoses unit, said during a recent press conference, "Five years, 10 years, 20 years from now, what are we going to see in terms of cardiac impairment, pulmonary impairment, neurologic impairment? It’s year five in the pandemic, but there's still a lot we don't know about [the virus]."

How Does This Impact New York?

COVID-19 is still spreading around New York and, with it, new asymptomatic infections. Unfortunately, people are less likely to test even if they do present symptoms. And those who do test, don't report their results, which is skewing the true infection rate.

COVID-19 Testing Demand Remains High Due To Surge Of Omicron Variant
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Not only that, some people are just plain tired of all the social distancing, masking up, and all the other protocols that had been implemented to stop the spread of the virus, so they are ignoring COVID mitigation tactics.

Furthermore, with any new virus, there will always be concerns about how allowing it to continually spread - and therefore mutate - will ultimately affect the human body and the overall health of the nation.

With investigations ongoing into the coronavirus' impact on one's cardiovascular and pulmonary system, it should be noted that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in New York State.

Per the CDC, 32 percent of all statewide deaths in 2020 were caused by cardiovascular disease. Additionally, 7.3 percent of adults in NYS have suffered from either a heart attack, angina/coronary heart disease, or a stroke. Furthermore, 18.9 percent of New Yorkers over age 65 have some type of CVD.

Health officials aren't ruling out the possibility of these numbers rising in the future due to COVID-related illness.

In short, if you suspect you have COVID-19 or are about to head out to a large gathering, test yourself to make sure you don't unintentionally pass the virus on to another person.

Read More: Where Can You Get a COVID-19 Booster in Central New York?

Additionally, if you haven't been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, health officials strongly encourage that you consider immunization.

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New Photos of the new Downtown Utica Wynn Hospital (February 2023)

Just eight months before it's scheduled to open, MVHS officials took WIBX's Bill Keeler and Jeff Monaski, along with Photo Journalist Nancy L. Ford through the new Wynn Hospital in Utica. The new downtown hospital is expected to open in November.

Gallery Credit: Bill Keeler / Nancy L. Ford

New York's Most Miserable Cities

According to Road Snacks, these are New York's 10 most miserable cities because apparently everything is going wrong there.

As for what determines how miserable a city is, Road Snacks compared 169 cities using Census data and other scientific stuff from other "legitimate" sources. They looked into divorce rates, commute times, cost of living, and other statistics to whip up this "fun" new list.

In the end, these 10 cities were deemed to be the gloomiest in New York State.

Gallery Credit: Megan