In the latest Around Town column, news about a CBS Sports feature the celebrates Gunn High's football team, Palo Alto police increasing its presence in shopping areas this holiday season and Stanford Medicine joining a four-year study on long COVID.
REMEMBER THE TITANS ... Gunn High School's football team had an unideal ending to its season, but the players have plenty of reasons to celebrate.
The Titans have played strong and recorded just two losses this fall, but a three-way tie for the El Camino Division title and Santa Clara Valley Athletic League bylaws robbed the team of an automatic berth to the playoffs.
Nonetheless, Gunn football found itself under the national spotlight on Nov. 28 when CBS Sports aired a story about the team. The 6-minute special, titled "Courage in Sports: Gridiron Greatness," features interviews with coach Jason Miller and student-athletes.
Miller, who became the team's coach in 2018, previously headed football teams in southern California and worked as an educator in inner city Los Angeles. "I left because I felt like I needed to effect change on a different level in a different area," Miller said. He's pushed the team to new heights, as seen through its 25-10 record under his leadership, and many of the interviewed students consider Miller as a father figure. "We are a smashmouth system with high academic kids, and it's become a badge of pride and a badge of honor," he said.
The players are also advocates off the field, as seen through their participation in protests that supported the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements. "They're all my brothers now," fullback and linebacker Denzel Davis said.
EXTRA SECURITY ... Black Friday didn't only bring out holiday shoppers looking for bargains to Stanford Shopping Center, it also attracted a large number of Palo Alto police.
Officers, including a rig parked on the sidewalk next to the Nordstrom department store with an officer standing beside the entrance, have supplemented their presence in the wake of the recent smash-and-grab mob thefts that have targeted high-end retailers.
Nordstrom stores in other Bay Area locations have been among the retailers that have been hit by thieves in recent weeks. Police Lt. Brian Philip said this week that shoppers shouldn't be surprised if they see a large number of police at local malls. It's not necessarily indicative of a crime taking place; the officers are there to prevent such crimes. It's likely that Palo Alto Police Department and Stanford Shopping Center security guards will continue their visible presence at least through the holidays, Philip said.
IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS ... Stanford Medicine researchers are among 30 teams that have joined a study on long COVID-19 sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The goals of the Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery initiative are to pinpoint risk factors, come up with prevention and treatment plans and explore why some recover more quickly than others, according to a Nov. 22 Stanford Medicine article.
The institution plans to work with 900 people who've survived COVID-19, including those who've had persistent symptoms from their initial infection. "Data suggests that between 10% and 30% of people who have had an acute SARS-CoV-2 infection experience symptoms lasting at least one month," according to the article.
Long COVID-19 symptoms include pain, fatigue, headaches, brain fog, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, chronic cough, fever and sleep issues.
"It has been clearly demonstrated that even those with initially mild COVID-19 symptoms can get long COVID," said Dr. Upinder Singh, a professor of infectious diseases and geographical medicine of microbiology and immunology.
Singh is among the study's principal investigators at Stanford. She's joined by Dr. PJ Utz, professor of immunology and rheumatology; Dr. Catherine Blish, professor of infectious diseases; and Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatric infectious disease and of epidemiology and population health.
The participants will meet with researchers annually for four years. Stanford Medicine is expected to receive nearly $15 million throughout the duration of the study.