Posts tagged with "CDC"

Vaccine illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Small Businesses Sign Vaccine Plan

­­SURVEY OF SMALL EMPLOYERS; 400+ SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS AND NATIONAL ADVOCATES LAUNCH INITIATIVE ON VACCINE LEADERSHIP TO GET U.S. ECONOMY BACK ON TRACK 

New National Survey of More than 3,300 Small Business Owners: Survey of small employers found that 64 percent of business owners say it is very important that their employees get vaccinated

Over 400 Small Business Owners and Leaders — Sign pledge to commit to becoming a small business vaccine leader 

Small employers want employees to get vaccinated and are willing to help to make it happen. The majority (63 percent) of small businesses are willing to encourage and incentivize employees to get vaccinated.

 Reimagine Main Street (RMS), a project of Public Private Strategies (PPS), has launched a public awareness campaign that will support small business owners in being leaders on the Covid-19 vaccines with their employees and in their community. The campaign was announced during a webinar that also included findings from a survey of more than 3,300 small employers on their perspectives on the vaccines conducted by Reimagine Main Street, in partnership with the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE), the US Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). The survey results provide insights into how small business owners view the vaccines and their plans for themselves and their workers. 

Other business organizations including the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NLGCC), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) are stepping up to engage their members. 

“Small businesses like mine have struggled during this pandemic, but the vaccine shows us that the end is in sight,” said Shaundell Newsome, Founder of Sumnu Marketing and Chairman of the Board of the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas, who moderated the webinar. “I have implemented a vaccine plan for my employees and all business owners should do the same so we can make it through Covid-19 as quickly as possible.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 70-85% of Americans need to receive the vaccine to achieve herd immunity. Once that happens, small businesses will be able to get back to business at full capacity and the economy and communities can completely reopen.

“The survey findings demonstrate that small business owners recognize the importance of the vaccines in reopening Main Street,” said PPS Founder and Principal Rhett Buttle. “By championing the vaccine with the employees and in their communities, small employers can help fully reopen the economy as quickly as possible.”

NEW SURVEY: 

The survey of more than 3,300 small employers shows strong support for ensuring workers get vaccinated. View the full survey. Key findings include: 

  • 63% of small employers intend to encourage their employees to get vaccinated. 
  • Nearly half (45%) of small employers’ plan to give workers paid time off (PTO) to get vaccinated.
     
  • More than 80% of small employers report having conversations with employees about vaccines and a majority (55%) say they would use free or low-cost resources to provide guidance and information about Covid-19 vaccines.

PLEDGE FROM SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS: 

The campaign also calls on employers to sign a pledge to be a SMALL BUSINESS VACCINE LEADER, which more than 400 small business owners have already signed. In signing it, small business owners are pledging to do at least one of the following things:

  • Commit to getting the vaccine when it is their turn and let their employees know why they are choosing to get the vaccine
  • Create a vaccine plan for their employees
  • Provide incentives to employees who receive the vaccine, such as PTO to receive the vaccine
  • Continue to follow state and federal guidance on social distancing and wearing masks after all employees are vaccinated
  • Assist with vaccine promotion and distribution in their community (examples include volunteering to help at COVID-19 vaccination sites, donating supplies or services to vaccination sites, and being vocal in their community on the business case for getting vaccinated)

NEW TIP SHEETS: 

Reimagine Main Street is also giving small business owners the resources they need to play a critical role in championing the vaccine with their employees and in their communities. In addition to general tools and resources, the campaign includes tip sheets in multiple languages for small business specifically targeted to demographics, including:

QUOTES FROM BUSINESS OWNERS AND LEADERS: 

Ron Busby, Sr., President/CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.

“When our country faces a crisis, the most vulnerable are hit the hardest, especially in the Black community. This was the case with Covid-19, but business owners can help put us on the path to recovery by embracing the vaccine.”

Ramiro Cavazos, President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

“It is going to take years for the Hispanic small business community to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the vaccine can get us started down that path. Business owners can help speed the recovery by championing the vaccine with their employees and community.”

Justin G. Nelson, Co-Founder and President, NGLCC

“COVID-19 has forced business owners in the LGBTQ community to look out for each other as we try to make it through this pandemic. Small business owners should protect themselves, their employees, and their communities by championing the vaccine.”

Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

“Hispanic businesses have closed at a disproportionate rate because of Covid-19 and the path to recovery begins with the vaccine. If small business owners champion the Covid-19 vaccines, businesses and communities will be able to fully reopen much faster.” 

Chiling Tong President/CEO of the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on Asian American and Pacific Islander businesses both financially and through the rise in anti-Asian violence. It is critical that we get through this pandemic as quickly as possible, and the vaccine is key to doing so.”

Mas Torito, owner of Kokoro Restaurant in Denver

“My family restaurant has been in business for over 30 years and this past one was the toughest we have ever weathered. To come back stronger than ever, we have championed the vaccine, but it is critical that more small businesses do so as well.”

Ginger Torres, co-founder of PPE for Navajo First Responders in Phoenix

“Hesitancy to take the Covid-19 vaccine is prevalent among many Native Americans, but small business owners can play a huge role in changing that. I urge all small business owners to be leaders on the vaccine with their employees and in their communities.”

Patty Gentry Young, co-owner of Young Hair Inc., Spring Field, Ohio

“We all take steps to be proactive about our health and getting the Covid-19 vaccine should be one of them. Small business owners can play an important role in encouraging their employees and others in their community to get the vaccine.”

Mosquito illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Mosquito Season

How to Prepare for Mosquito Season

Mosquito season is right around the corner. If you happen to live in warmer regions of the country, you might already be seeing some mosquito activity around your home. Even if it will be a couple of months until the warm weather reaches your part of the country, it is very important to prepare for mosquito season early.

Here is why you should begin to prepare for mosquito season early and some ways to do that:

Why should I prepare for mosquito season early?

  • Mosquitoes may already be in your yard: While they seem to disappear in the colder months of the year, some mosquitoes can in fact survive the winter. How? Through a process called overwintering. Overwintering is when female mosquitoes lay their eggs before winter, and the eggs survive and eventually hatch when temperatures rise again.
  • Being prepared means avoiding unnecessary hassle: Why wait until your yard is filled with mosquitoes to do something about them? By preparing early, you can lessen the stress of mosquito season and focus on enjoying your outdoor space.

How should I prepare for mosquito season?

There are a number of ways you can get ready for the beginning of mosquito season and help prevent bites around your home. Below are a few:

  • Hire your local mosquito control company: The best way to beat mosquitoes is to enlist the help of a professional. Our specialists at Mosquito Authority are committed to doing everything possible to ensure your home and yard are mosquito-free zones. Our treatments are even designed to break up the 21-day lifecycle of mosquitoes, which means you won’t be bothered in between treatments.
  • Be aware of the best mosquito repellents and how to use them: Although your home will be mosquito-free after your Mosquito Authority treatments, other outdoor areas might not be. If you are planning on hiking, going to the park, or participating in any other outdoor activities in the spring and summer, make sure to apply insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using products that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or other EPA-registered products.
  • Make sure your yard isn’t a breeding ground for mosquitoes: Mosquitoes need water to lay eggs, which is why any areas of standing water make for popular mosquito breeding grounds. As the snow begins to melt (or you start to experience more rainfall), standing water will start building up around your yard. A big part of DIY mosquito control is getting rid of standing water near your home; this includes tipping over items like trash can lids, tire swings, and children’s toys to empty the water out.

Joe Malinowski is the director of pest management for Mosquito Authority and Pest Authority. He has worked on the operational and corporate side of top companies in the pest control industry. Malinowski served as vice president of technical services at Orkin and vice president of sales for B&G Equipment Company. He also helped launch new and innovative products in the industry for ForeFront Product Design and SenesTech. Operational roles at the branch, regional, and divisional levels have given him an understanding of profit and loss, customer and employee retention, correct product and equipment selection, and precise training to ensure exceptional service.

Medical illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Mental Illness × Addiction Crisis

With Pandemic Worsening the Mental Illness and Addiction Crisis, Biden Administration to Provide Nearly $2.5 Billion to States, Territories for Treatment, Prevention Aid

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Funding to Support Comprehensive Community Prevention, Treatment, Recovery and Health Services

The Biden Administration will provide nearly $2.5 billion in funding to states and territories to address the nation’s mental illness and addiction crisis, which has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will direct $1.65 billion in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding and $825 million in Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funding to states and territories. The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program allows states and territories to provide comprehensive community mental health services and address needs and gaps in existing treatment services for those with severe mental health conditions. The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program allows states and territories to plan, implement and evaluate activities to prevent and treat substance use disorder. This funding will also allow recipients to maximize efficiency in existing treatment and recovery infrastructure, promote support for providers and address unique local needs to deliver substance use disorder prevention.

“We know multiple stressors during the pandemic – isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability, and loss of routines – have devastated many Americans and presented unprecedented challenges for behavioral health providers across the nation,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Tom Coderre. “During this time of increased urgency, we want to assure them that funding is in place to help states and territories provide pathways to prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services, especially for underserved populations.”

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data confirming a rise in fatal overdoses during the pandemic. This year’s increases in calls to helplines across the country indicate growing anxiety, depression, and trauma in Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis have been especially devastating for Black and Latino communities, which are experiencing a disproportionate number of COVID-19 infections and deaths as well as higher-than-average unemployment rates.

“SAMHSA resources connect Americans to evidence-based treatment and services every day,” said Coderre. “Focusing on both mental and substance use disorders – challenges that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic but that have worsened over the past year – will be a crucial part of SAMHSA’s approach to helping the nation move forward.”

In addition to the $2.5 billion awarded today, SAMHSA has awarded $686 million in Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) Expansion Grants; Emergency Grants to Address Mental and Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19 (Emergency Response COVID-19), and supplements to the fiscal year 2020 Emergency Response COVID-19 grant recipients.

Funding allocation tables can be viewed here:

FY 2021 Community Mental Health Block Grant Program COVID-19 Supplemental Awards

FY 2021 Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program COVID-19 Supplemental Awards

People searching for treatment for mental or substance use disorders can find treatment by visiting SAMHSA’s website or by calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline,
1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Covid by Mina Tocalini

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

House-Passed American Rescue Plan Includes Key United States of Care Policy Priorities 

Today, United States of Care applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes a number of United State of Care’s most important policy priorities.

“Over the past year, United States of Care has made substantial recommendations to policymakers based on peoples’ needs to fight the pandemic and build a better, more equitable health care system in its wake,” said Emily Barson, Executive Director at United States of Care. “Whether it’s the $46 billion to help local and state public health workers engage in contact tracing and testing activities or our advocacy to ensure people are able to provide for themselves and their loved ones during the pandemic, we’re proud that so many of our suggestions made it into the House-passed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. We urge the Senate to follow suit and provide people with the support that’s needed – and widely popular among Democratic and Republican voters – to put an end to this pandemic and allow our health care system to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”

The House passed rescue proposal aligns with previous United States of Care recommendations, including:

  • $219.8 billion for state and local governments to maintain critical health care programs and services that help people take care of their families.

In January 2021, USofCare requested $350 billion for this purpose.

  • $7.6 billion to HHS to set up a permanent public health workforce, or Health Care Ready Reserve, with funds for state, local, and territorial health departments.
  • USofCare, along with our Entrepreneurs Council co-chair, John Driscoll, advocated for the establishment of a Health Care Ready Reserve.
  • $7.5 billion for the CDC to prepare, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track COVID-19 vaccines. This includes distribution and administration, support for state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments, community vaccination centers, IT enhancements, facility enhancements, and public communication.

In January 2021, USofCare’s recommendations called for “funding to scale and implement the nation’s vaccine distribution capabilities” to the tune of $20 billion. USofCare’s vaccine distribution recommendations also explicitly focused on “underserved areas” listed in the bill.

  • $1.75 billion for funding for grants for community mental health services.

On July 15th, 2020, USofCare called for robust investment in behavioral health to ensure mental health services remain open, operational, and able to provide care during the pandemic.

  • People who are laid off or experience reduced hours are eligible for subsidies that cover 85% of their COBRA costs through the end of September 2021.

In January 2021, USofCare recommended that the full cost of COBRA assistance should be covered on a temporary basis for those who have lost job-connected health insurance.

  • $1 billion to educate the public on the vaccine in order to boost confidence in it.

In January 2021, USofCare recommended that Congress appropriate $200 million.

  • Encourage Medicaid expansion in states that have yet to implement it by having the federal government pay an extra 5% of all of a state’s Medicaid costs for two years.

USofCare urged policymakers to create incentives for states to expand Medicaid via a 100% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage match for those enrolled in expansion populations on several occasions including April 14, 2020July 15, 2020, and December 3, 2020.

  • Ensure that no one buying coverage from the Marketplace would pay more than 8.5% of their income for health insurance.

In January 2021, USofCare made this exact recommendation.

  • $20 million for youth suicide prevention.

USofCare called for confronting our nation’s suicide epidemic in its December 3rd transition memo.

  • $620 million for AmeriCorps to serve communities disproportionately impacted by COVID–19.

In calling for critical investment in our public health workforce on June 25th, 2020, USofCare cited the long-term need for such workers to connect vulnerable communities to care, particularly if they are recruited from the communities in which they will work.

“USofCare thanks our Board, Founder’s, and Entrepreneurs Council members for providing their expertise and guidance in shaping our policy recommendations,” added Barson. “This week’s tragic milestone in the U.S. of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths is the latest reminder of the devastating toll of this pandemic and the need for decisive action from the federal government. We wholeheartedly agree with the overwhelming majority of the American people from both political parties in favor of the American Rescue Plan.”

The Caverns Above Ground Amp by Jeff Meltesen (The Caverns) for 360 Magazine

The Caverns Outdoor Events

The Caverns Adds More Outdoor and Socially Distanced Events with Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, Robert Earl Keen, and Last Podcast On The Left

2-person, 4-person and 6-person pods for all 3 shows go on sale Friday, February 26 at 10a CT on their website.

Live entertainment returns to Grundy County, Tennessee at The Caverns Above Ground Amphitheater with beloved Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen (April 9), Americana stalwarts Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors (May 2), and a unique night of dark comedy with Last Podcast on The Left (May 15). The events will take place outdoors and in pods on a hillside above The Caverns cave music venue, overlooking the beautiful Payne’s Cove.

Friday, April 9 : Robert Earl Keen – A bonafide hero of the Americana music scene, Keen is ready to get back to the stage, “I’m excited to be bringing the STARLIGHT TOUR to The Caverns Above Ground Amphitheater and to return to live music safely for our fans. It’s going to be a lively night under the stars!”

Sunday, May 2: Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors – With his new album, Dragons, Drew’s songwriting exhibits a careful sense of craft with his ability to take the joys, struggles, and specific moments of his own life to create vivid portraits stretched across a wide sonic canvas

Saturday, May 15: Last Podcast On The Left – This show will be The Caverns first ever live podcast event. This epic evening is a live show of the popular Last Podcast On The Left heard nationwide on Spotify. Hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski cover dark subjects like cults, killers, or cryptid encounters while inviting you to laugh into the abyss that is the dark side of humanity.

For all shows, guests will arrive at staggered times, be asked COVID-19 screening questions, receive a temperature check, and enjoy the show from 2-person, 4-person and 6-person socially-distanced pods. Pods are spaced with a minimum of 6’ distance between each other to maintain social distancing. The events are “bring your own chair.”

Masks will be mandatory, except when guests are in their pods. All concessions and merchandise will be ordered through an app and delivered contactless to pods eliminating lines and limiting the need for guests to leave pods and miss the show.

While the entertainment is above ground, restrooms will be used inside The Caverns to give guests an opportunity to duck below the surface to see the world-famous, subterranean music venue.

The highest priority of The Caverns is the safety of guests, crew and artists. As such, the venue is following guidance provided by the CDC and the State of Tennessee’s Tennessee Pledge for reopening.

Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 26 at 10a CT. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

About The Caverns

Located in Grundy County, Tennessee, The Caverns is a world-renowned destination for live music in beautiful natural settings, home of the Emmy-winning PBS television series Bluegrass Underground, and a magical cave system for different skill levels of exploration. Inside The Caverns subterranean venue, guests to “The Greatest Show Under Earth” revel in the prehistoric venue’s natural acoustics and otherworldly beauty. The outdoor amphitheater sits at the foot of the Cumberland Plateau with the rolling Tennessee hills as a backdrop. Whether underground or above ground, live music at The Caverns is a bucket list experience that keeps fans coming back time and again. Daily guided walking tours and adventure cave tours of The Caverns cave system are offered 7 days a week.

The Cavern Pods by Jeff Meltesen (The Caverns) for 360

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors by Jeff Meltesen (The Caverns) for 360

RobertEarlKeen-REKbyNickDoll, uploaded by Jeff Meltesen (The Caverns) for 360

Healthcare Equity article illustrated by Rita Azar for 360 MAGAZINE

The Importance of Education for Advancing Healthcare Equity

By: Maria Hernandez, Ph.D.

If you’ve been tracking the nation’s progress in the fight against Covid-19, physicians and public health officials of color have been highlighting the need for health equity in the national dialogue. As the data on mortality rates becomes clearer, there is no mistake that the pandemic is impacting African American and Latino communities to a much greater extent. Current mortality rates for Blacks and Latinos is almost 2.8 times that of whites suggesting significant health inequities exist. The discussion about why these inequities are taking place has been less clear and even less clear is how to address this reality.

The key may be in educating healthcare providers about the root cause of these inequities and empowering patients that access healthcare systems.

Health inequities are the differences in health outcomes due to unfair conditions or factors that different populations may face. These factors can include access to quality care, inadequate housing, lack of access to quality food, poverty and systemic racism. Public health researchers and healthcare providers have known about health inequities in the US for over 40 years and the research about what to do point to a confluence of factors that center on economic, educational and social change. Even before the pandemic, Native American and Black women are 2.5 times more likely to die in childbirth than Whites. Women are under diagnosed for heart disease.

Research points to the presence of unconscious and systemic bias as well as a lack of culturally competent care.

https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/tracking-the-covid-19-recessions-effects-on-food-housing-andThe pandemic exacerbated the impact of these factors in profound ways. If we look at the fact that essential front line workers–cashiers, bus drivers, food service providers, healthcare workers, postal carriers, warehouse workers, receptionists–have high concentrations of Black and Latino workers, it becomes much easier to understand why so many victims of Covid-19 are from these communities. And if we also explore the role poverty plays in the pandemic, we know that crowded housing conditions where social distancing is not possible has been a factor. The reality is that low income, hourly workers are not able to do their jobs remotely using telecommuting or video conferencing. Many of these workers also experience a harder time finding personal protective equipment that can be a burden for tight household budgets.

The pandemic has set the stage for profound changes in healthcare and its about time.

Two important responses that have emerged in the nation’s healthcare systems is an awareness that physicians, nurses and other caretakers must accept that–like all other human beings–they suffer from unconscious biases. It’s those snap judgements about a person’s race, ethnicity, age, ability, and socioeconomic status that enter into each encounter which can influence the recommended course of care. Those biases can be positive or negative but we all make those associations. The pandemic has accelerated the

extent to which hospitals are seeking training for front line staff and providers in order to reduce the likelihood of these biases and provide more culturally competent care.

These programs include an awareness of how bias impacts the experiences of patients and what may be important factors to consider in working with different populations. Culturally competent care encourages staff to look at how the patient may be experiencing their illness and what their own understanding of how to improve their health. It means taking into account the patients cultural of reference and listening to their unique needs.

Another response is the effort hospitals are making to partner with community clinics, faith based organizations and community organizations to win the trust of patients. This was present before the pandemic, but it has taken on a new sense of urgency as vaccine adoption rates have faltered in Black and Brown communities. Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, not for profit hospitals which are the majority of facilities in the US have been asked to report what community benefits they provide to address known community needs.

Despite all of these approaches for improved healthcare services for diverse patients, it will take years before all health systems are aligned on their approach to advance health equity.

The most vulnerable patients need quality care now.

A visit to the doctor—even on-line—may require some key steps to ensure the best care is made available. Three steps that can make a big difference for patient visits. First, bring an advocate with you–a family member or friend who will join you in your visit and support your being heard or to help you ask the right questions. You’ll have to give them permission to be with you given privacy rules in healthcare but it’s worth it. Having a trusted advocate can be a big relief if there’s a lot of options to explore or if there’s different treatment steps involved. There’s a growing field of professional Patient Advocates — sometimes called Patient Navigators that help individuals with navigating treatment options, getting insurance payments, and arranging for home health care if needed. Your health may rely on having someone who understands the complexity of healthcare systems to support you.

Next, review the information your physician provides about the condition or illness and the medicines you may be asked to take. Ask your doctor what information you most need to understand for your treatment or what to do to support your health. Most physicians will provide information on a condition or point you to a reputable website for more information like the Mayo Clinic Review what your physician provides to be informed about the options and treatments presented.

Last, communicate with your care team throughout the course of your treatment or care. If you are struggling with side effects in your treatment or symptoms worsen, call your doctor or the nurse practitioner assigned to your care. Take an active role–with your advocate–to look at options for continued treatment. Poor communication with your physician can put you at greater risk for poor health outcomes. During these challenging days, preparing for each time you visit your physician can set the stage for you to receive the very best care available

About the author -Maria Hernandez, Ph.D., President and COO of Impact4Health is a thought leader in health equity and pay for success initiatives designed to address the upstream social determinants of health among vulnerable populations.  Maria currently leads the Alameda County Pay for Success Asthma Initiative which is testing the feasibility of reducing asthma-related emergencies using health education and proven home-based environmental interventions for children.  

Frontliners by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

AHCA/NCAL Urges Guidance from CDC

In a letter addressed to Rochelle P. Walensky, the Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is requesting further guidance, data-sharing, and urgency into researching the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination, especially in regard to the elderly population. The AHCA/NCAL, represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year.


The AHCA/NCAL reports: “need for urgency on this matter is painfully evident. For nearly a year, long term care residents have been unable to visit with their loved ones in-person or participate in enriching social activities. Despite our staff’s heroic efforts to keep residents engaged and fill the void of family members, we are deeply concerned that the prolonged isolation of our residents is impacting their health and wellbeing. Prioritizing research on the vaccines’ effectiveness among our population would help ensure these facilities can swiftly and safely reopen, improving the lives of our vulnerable seniors.”

While earlier guidance from the CDC urged nursing homes to restrict group activities and visitors, the vaccination has now been administered millions of nursing home residents. As a result of this, the AHCA/NCAL hopes to see changes in the guidance previously administered by the CDC in order to improve the quality of life for their residents under these new conditions.

To achieve this goal, the NHCA/NCAL is asking for CDC’s support to rapidly evaluate the vaccines’ effectiveness among the long term care population in both preventing spread and in reducing morbidity and mortality. The NHCA reports that the organization understands that clinical trials only evaluated the effectiveness in preventing symptomatic disease and severe illness, and participants did not include long term care residents. Therefore, they are requesting further study regarding the vaccines’ impact on transmission and the elderly population before revising guidance to long term care settings. The NHCA/NCAL asks that the CDC expedite this evaluation of the vaccines in order to bring clarity to states, providers, residents and family members as soon as possible.

Fortunately, preliminary analysis by AHCA/NCAL reports that the vaccines may be as effective as hoped. Their research division, the Center for Health Policy Evaluation in Long Term Care (CHPE), found that COVID-19 cases decreased at a faster rate among nursing homes that had completed their first vaccine clinic, compared to nearby nursing homes that had not yet administered the vaccine. More specifically, the CHPE analysis reports:

  • Vaccinated nursing homes experienced a 48% decline in new resident cases three weeks after the first clinic, compared to a 21% decline among non-vaccinated nursing homes located in the same county.
  • Similarly, new staff cases declined by 33% in vaccinated nursing homes compared to 18% in non-vaccinated facilities.

While encouraging, further study is needed to determine if these trends will continue in subsequent clinics or after the second dose of the vaccine. The AHCA/NCAL requests that data and funding be made available to the research community to expedite this ongoing analysis. Both organizations are willing to assist the CDC in this effort through facilitating data sharing between providers and researchers, as well as connecting with experts from the public and private sector to assist with data waiting to be evaluated.

As the CDC has taken great effort to administer residents and staff their second dose of the vaccine, many states have started planning reopening strategies. The AHCA/NCAL reports on the reopenings: “State governments play a vital role in contributing to the protection of our residents and staff during this time. However, in this situation, we believe that cohesion is needed to ensure effective outcomes. Without guidance from the federal government, states may create confusing or inconsistent practices.”

In hope of creating consistent practices surrounding reopening, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living is requesting that the CDC reiterate their most up-to-date guidance on COVID-19 safety practices. Since the effectiveness of the vaccine isn’t fully determined, the AHCA/NCAL emphasizes the importance of clear communication with stakeholders to make sure that everyone understands the stressed importance and vigilance of vaccination efforts.

COVID 19 by Symara Wilson for 360 Magazine, Covid Travel restriction

Coronavirus Mutations × U.S. Travel Restrictions

By Emily Bunn

A breaking news article featured in The New York Times announced that the United States will be imposing a mandatory requirement for negative COVID-19 test results from all incoming, international travelers. The requirement for proof of a negative test in order to fly will begin Tuesday, January 25th.

The CDC has ordered for all travelers to provide proof of a negative test taken no more than 3 days before their travels. Without documentation of a negative test or documentation of recovery supplemented with a letter from a health care provider or public health official, passengers will be prohibited to fly.

The United States is not the only country to be putting in place tighter travel regulations. Due to new mutations of the virus, many countries are adopting stricter border protocol. The New York Times reports:

“Even as the United States moved to impose travel restrictions, citing the danger of the fast-moving variants, a case of the variant spreading in Brazil was identified in Minnesota.”

Variations of the virus in Brazil and South Africa, due to international travel, both pose the threat of COVID-19 mutating. If the virus does mutate, it is potential that the new strain of such will be unreactive to current vaccination efforts.

The New York Times reports that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an adviser to President Biden, has commented: “With the world travel that you have, and the degree of transmissibility efficiency, it’s not surprising.” Further, President Biden has broadcasted a ban on travel by all non-citizens into the United States from South Africa, the U.K., Ireland, and 26 other European countries.

An article published today on AP News reported that in attempts to increase vaccination efforts, President Biden announced that his administration is planning to purchase 100 million doses of each of the approved coronavirus vaccines–Pfizer and Moderna. Vaccination deliveries to states will be surged for the next three weeks. The Biden administration has announced that they plan to vaccinate 300 million citizens by the end of summer, as reported by The New York Times.

The President, in a White House briefing on January 26th, commented on importance of increasing vaccination supplies to help Americans:

“And to a nation waiting for action, let me be clearest on this point: Help is on the way.  We can do this if we come together, if we listen to the scientists.”

These efforts come at an especially critical time, as the global number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 100 million, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, that has been recent speculation regarding the accuracy of that number. In New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration has been accused of undercounting the amount of coronavirus deaths that occurred at nursing homes. A report released by Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York, shows that the coronavirus death count appears to have been cut by approximately 50 percent. The report compares the number of facility deaths publicized by the Department of Health–1,229 deaths, versus the number of facility deaths reported the Office of Attorney General–1,914 deaths. This staggering discrepancy between reported deaths has spurred suspicion against Cuomo, and the Office of Attorney General (OAG) is conducting an on-going investigation concerning the cause of these variances.

However, there is still hope. In Los Angeles, Governor Gavin Newsom rescinded the county’s stay-at-home order this past Monday, reports The Los Angeles Times. This new jurisdiction will allow for all counties in California to return to the four-tier, colored-coded system of assessing coronavirus risk. Lifting the imposed stay-at-home order could allow for the reopening of personal care services and outdoor dining. While LA has been particularly hard hit by coronavirus, the city actually has a higher vaccination rate than most other comparable cities in the U.S. The New York Times reports that “83 percent of the doses the city has received have been administered, compared with 74 percent in New York City; 52 percent in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio; and 58 percent of the doses ordered in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.”

While the coronavirus situation is still being closely tracked and monitored, hospitalizations and the number of patients in ICUs have been steadily declining. With hospitalizations at their national lowest since December 13th and an increase in vaccination efforts, there is progress to be recognized, despite current setbacks and uncertainties.

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, COVID-19

Covid Risk Increases During Holidays

By Hannah DiPilato

With the holiday season quickly approaching, Covid cases are skyrocketing all over the country and officials are advising people to social distance this holiday season.

According to CNN, more than 12 million people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and over 260,000 people have died. With those that are elderly or immune-compromised, the risk of complications due to COVID-19 is higher.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated the safety guidelines for traveling. “CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving Day period,” Dr. Henry Walke, Covid-19 incident manager for the CDC, said in a conference call.

“Right now, especially as we are seeing exponential growth in cases and the opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time,” Walke continued.

The CDC has also recommended people stay in their immediate households for the holiday season. Even without traveling across the country, seeing those you don’t usually see can lead to a breakout of coronavirus.

Walke said he does not plan to visit his own family for the holiday season. “I haven’t seen my parents since January. I’m staying home and that’s been difficult as I have older parents who would like to see me and who would like to see my children as well,” he said.

“It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now, and people are tired. And we understand that and people want to see their relatives and their friends in the way they’ve always done it,” he continued, “But this year, particularly, we’re asking people to be as safe as possible and limit their travel.”

If you plan to gather with those outside of your immediate household, there are important precautions to take to prevent the spread of coronavirus. First, keep gatherings as small as possible. Many states have restrictions in place which limit the number of people allowed to gather inside. Check your local and state regulations to ensure your gathering is following the laws.

The CDC’s Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz said, “The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household.”

If possible, move your Thanksgiving dinner outside. Coronavirus is less likely to spread outside where there is better ventilation than indoors. Although many places are getting cold, tell your guests to load up with blankets and winter gear. If it’s too cold for an outside gathering, keep the windows open to ventilate the area.

One of the most important and simplest things you can do to stop the spread of Covid is to wear a mask. In many states, masks are required in public places and Thanksgiving dinner should be no exception. Keep your mask on unless eating and remain six feet away from other guests.

It is also recommended that guests handle making their own food and bringing their own utensils to Thanksgiving dinner this year. This prevents the spread of germs as well as cross-contamination between households. Remember to frequently wash your hands when cooking, eating and generally to stop the spread of germs.

Covid cases are rising in communities as well as healthcare networks which is making the virus even harder to handle. Many more people are becoming hospitalized due to the virus and healthcare workings are at risk.

According to the Associated Press, 905 staff members at The Mayo Clinic Health System have been infected with coronavirus in the last two weeks. The Mayo Clinic Health System is a network of clinics and hospitals in the midwest that are run by Mayo Clinic.

Executive dean of Mayo Clinic Practice, Dr. Amy Williams, said that most cases came from exposure within the community and not from work. “It shows how widely spread this is in our communities and how easy it is to get COVID-19 in the communities here in the Midwest,” she said.

If a virtual gathering isn’t in your Thanksgiving plans this year and you will be seeing people outside of your family in person, consider isolating yourself beforehand. Since the incubation period of the virus is 14 days, a negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean a person does not carry the virus. Although a negative test result for coronavirus isn’t a sure sign of safety, it is an extra precaution everyone should add before mingling this holiday season.

Besides getting a coronavirus test, people should also consider a 14-day quarantine before seeing loved ones, or afterward. Isolating before seeing family will decrease the risk of spreading the disease within your holiday circle. If you plan on traveling for the holiday, consider isolating yourself after returning to prevent the spread of covid in your community.

The CDC has predicted this will be a dark winter and although a vaccine is in the works, it likely won’t be ready for mass distribution for a few more weeks. The holiday season will only lead to more cases with an increase in travel and group gatherings. As the weather in many places gets colder, inside gatherings are more likely to occur.

The CDC also recommends everyone get their flu shot for the upcoming flu season. By protecting yourself from the flu, you can help the healthcare system more easily manage the large influx of people going to the hospital.

In all states except Hawaii, Maine and Vermont, there is an active or imminent outbreak of coronavirus according to Covid Act Now. Even these three states are at risk for an outbreak. Currently, North Dakota has the highest number of new daily cases per 100,000 people with 159.6 cases. Wyoming and New Mexico follow closely behind.

Many states have separated their cities and counties into different zones depending on the number of Covid cases present. The restrictions in place for these areas are then determined by the number of cases.

New York City is starting to enforce tighter restrictions as cases start to rise. “In the next week or two we should see some substantial restrictions,” said Mayor, Bill de Blasio. “I think indoor dining will be closed, gyms will be closed.  I’m not happy about it. No one is happy about it but that’s what’s coming.” There is currently a 10 person gathering limit and a curfew for nonessential businesses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Similarly, in Boston, Governor Charlie Baker has released a stay-at-home advisory for the same time frame. People are urged to only go out between these hours for essentials. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people while outdoor gatherings should be capped at 25 people.

Things on the west coast seem just as bleak. According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries will be closed for dine-in services for at least three weeks. People in Los Angeles are being advised to stay home and have a similar curfew to Boston and New York City.

In some cities where cases are skyrocketing, restrictions are not being put in place as heavily as in California and New York. In Miami, restaurants are able to be open to 100% capacity and seat 10 people per table. Most things in Miami are reopened, but with restrictions such as requiring masks.

It is crucial for everyone to work together to bring covid cases back down over the coming weeks. As cases spike, it is important to remember that each state has precautions in place for a reason. Although many states won’t fully shut down, you can decide to continue social distancing and only going out for essentials.

Isabelle Fries makes a brief splash inside 360 MAGAZINE

ISABELLE FRIES

At 22 years old, Isabelle Fries has started to make a name for herself in the music industry. Not only is she gifted in her art, she has an extremely large heart.

Born in Sydney, but raised in Denver, Colorado, Fries found her inclination for singing at a young age. “I knew I wanted music to be a part of my life since I was about 7, but as I got older I was able to recognize that it is a labor of love for me,” she expressed. “I have never searched for fame through my music.” 

Not long after, she discovered her heart had room for another love, philanthropy. At just 15 years old, Fries became the first youth board member and youth leader for the Global Livingston Institute (GLI) an NGO in Uganda who’s mission is to educate students & community leaders on innovative approaches to international development and empower awareness, collaboration, conversations and personal growth. 

Through working with this organization, Isabelle travelled to Uganda to teach, perform and empower. In 2017, Fries performed in front of 20,000 people in Uganda at the annual iKnow HIV Awareness Concert Series along with other musicians from around the world, using music to breakdown barriers, bring people together and provide free medical testing and awareness for HIV for over 8,500 Ugandans.  

“I became a part of GLI when I was 15 and fully threw myself into their mission and their work. It is what opened my eyes to one of my passions I am now pursuing in international education. They really focus on young voices and drawing on perspectives from all types of individuals which is why I was asked to be on the board at such a young age. GLI is truly one of the most important things in my life so I could not be more thankful to be a part of it.” 

This wasn’t the only organization Fries carried out philanthropic work with. She volunteered in Haiti with The Road to Hope, an International Affairs Intern with Creative Visions in Malibu, California and a community worker with CEPIA in Costa Rica.

Isabelle still wanted to do more for Eastern African communities. She founded the “Bulamu Raise Your Voice Community Foundation (BCF)” and was able to draw on inspiration from one of her other life-long devotions: swimming. 

For twelve years, she swam competitively breaking records, winning State Championships and being a leader on her teams until complications from several autoimmune disorders forced her out of the water. This was never a part of her plan, but she was able to alter her life’s path and kept pushing through

“It is not something that I let control my life or hold me back from living. I take care of myself in every way I can and find strength in what I am able to do and learn new ways to improve my way of life,” she expressed. 

One of Fries’ missions with both GLI and BCF is to raise awareness for water safety on Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda by teaching swimming to prevent drownings. By working closely with GLI and the headmaster of the Kazi Primary School, Fries has been able to carry out this initiative, as well as implementing academic, music and sports curriculum.  

She said that the community of Lake Bunyonyi changed her life by seeing how they are such powerful and driven people. “I don’t go for my own benefit or to be a ‘white savior’ ,” she asserted. “When I work in Uganda, I give the individuals I work with support and resources and they truly do the rest.”

Isabelle was fortunate enough to meet one of her long time role models, Michael Phelps. Fostering a relationship with someone who has shaped her life in so many ways in and out of the water has been such a blessing, says Fries. This lead to her working with the Michael Phelps Foudation (MPF), where she took the opportunity to become certified in their “IM Water Safety Program” which is implemented in The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

When given the opportunity again to combine her music and philanthropy through the MPF, she couldn’t resist. Isabelle was asked to open for country singer, Eric Church, at a MPF benefit concert in Chicago at the iconic Arcada Theater. “Swimming is an incredibly big part of my life as I was a serious competitive swimmer from the ages of 5 to 18, therefor having the chance to combine my music with my love and passion for swimming and water safety was very special and meaningful.” 

Now a recent graduate of The University of Southern California, Fries splits her time living between Denver and Los Angeles, continuing to pursue her passions: music and philanthropy, while working in Denver at a non-profit dedicated to mentoring students. Isabelle holds a degree in International Relations with minors in Spanish as well as  Non-Profits, Philanthropy and Volunteerism. 

While studying at USC, Isabelle was fortunate enough to catch the eye of Grammy-winning, multi-platinum producer/mixer Rob Chiarelli, who she’s fostered an incredibly close relationship with. 

She began releasing music signed with Chiarelli’s label Streetlamp records this year, already finding a widespread and loyal audience across all music platforms using her rich, soulful vocal that could be compared to the sound of Lauren Daigle or Adele. She recently released her 6th single, a raw piano ballad called “All We Had. When people listen to her music, Fries always wants to make them truly feel – whatever that feeling may be. Through channeling lyrics with her songwriters from her own life experiences, the emotions she is able to elicit are special to her. 

While the music may be interpreted differently for each unique individual, her raw style is something she hopes help guide those listeners on whatever journey they want to take. “I’ve always said, I love music because it lets you feel something you didn’t think you could.”

This is definitely something she mirrors artistically with one of her musical inspirations, Amy Winehouse. Growing up performing jazz music, Fries describes this genre as a big part of her musical identity, so she was instantly drawn to Winehouse’s style which she catalogs as “authentic, raw and groundbreaking. Amy created music unapologetically.”

But Fries’ number one music icon is Sir Elton John. “His music was always around me when I was growing up. My parents loved all music from that time and exposed me to it at a very young age which is one of the reasons it is the type of music I love the most. 

However, Elton John’s music was different for me, it felt like poetry and real emotion. His sound and songs are like stories that you never want to end. When I began to listen to him more I realized this is the type of music I want to sing and be a part of.” 

Feeling very blessed to have found such a supportive team, guiding her in finally being able to put her own original songs out there into the world, she is excited to evolve using her music to help create change, perform live again, and continue to build upon her body of work. While she’s away in the studio recording, we’ll be out here patiently waiting for more music, while she continues to use her voice to make the world a better place.