Posts tagged with "CDC"

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Fitness

Understanding Physical Limitations

Five Things Non-Disabled People Should Understand About Those With Physical Limitations

By: Julie Morin, Co-Founder, Envol

Chronic illness has continued to grow in the past decades with six in ten Americans living with at least one chronic disease today, according to the CDC.

Having at least one chronic symptom is considered normal in the modern world of today – and let me tell you, that’s a scary realization. Such symptoms can look and feel different for everyone, ranging from mild occasional discomfort to being physically limited in our ability to participate to everyday activities.

Yet non-disabled people dominate the population and culture in the US, which means our understanding of normal is wholly based around the perimeters for non-disabled ideas and activities.

This is something I know all too well. Two weeks after taking ciprofloxacin – a commonly prescribed antibiotic – for a UTI, I was practicing yoga and, out of nowhere, my leg muscles went into painful paralysis. I couldn’t walk or even move my legs anymore. I had to call for help – it was terrifying – and I was rushed to the hospital in the neurology department. All the tests came back negative, and no one knew what was wrong with me. After two weeks, they said it was probably all just in my head and sent me home.

I spent the next four years in a wheelchair, and after multiple misdiagnoses and unsuccessful medical treatments, I turned to holistic healing. I began working with a French naturopathic physician who informed me that my symptoms aligned with fluoroquinolone toxicity, which is currently not recognized as a diagnosis yet. Still, many cases of fluoroquinolone-associated disability are being reported, and doctors continue to prescribe them today despite the FDA advising against it.

Under the guidance of my naturopathic physician, I created a wellness routine that incorporated a healthy, plant-based diet, meditation, therapeutic movement, rest, and gratitude, and I am now 75% healed and can walk short distances again.

Going from a healthy, vibrant young lady to a handicapped 25 years old just by taking a few pills has not been easy. But what was even harder was how people treated me during this time.

And what I learned during this time is knowledge I feel is essential to share with others:

  • Illness isn’t always visible.

It’s always wise to be careful with assumptions and presuming someone is healthy just because they don’t look sick. There is a lot that can be invisible to the eye and coming from a place of empathy when we simply don’t know enough about a situation or a person, is always a good idea.

  • Dare to talk about it.

Avoiding complex topics because they might be awkward or uncomfortable can make a person living with a chronic illness feel even more lonely and unheard. Talk about what they’re going through, the struggles, the hardship, but also the joy and the little things that they feel grateful for.

  • Not having a diagnosis doesn’t mean nothing is wrong.

So many people go mis- or undiagnosed by the medical profession and many assume that it must mean that there is nothing wrong with them and that they should simply resume their life. Yet the daily struggles and limitations are still there, and they can be very real. Continuing to offer your support and trust even when a clear diagnosis isn’t identified is one of the best way you can support someone you love who is going through a difficult time with their health. This type of support can greatly contribute to our recovery.

  • Avoid suggesting that someone is lucky that they can’t work.

Being unable to work isn’t a privilege – it’s a consequence of chronic illness or physical limitations. Rather, helping that person find their mission and a passion in which they can contribute to the world can often shift their perspective and help them boost their self-esteem.

  • People with physical limitations of disabilities are reminded every day of how life is different for them.

Be the person who finds and enhances similarities and makes them feel like they belong to the same group as healthy and non-disabled people. Invite them to parties, include them in group conversations, activities, etc. In the end, our cells listen to every one of our thoughts and so why not see life as everybody else should: full of possibilities, feeling confident, strong, and powerful beings.

And let’s not forget the power of love and positivity and the positive effects they can have on our health & well-being.

Being in a state of love and gratitude is in fact so important that it is a nourishment in the healing app Envol that my partner and I have created after my recovery.

Envol app is a holistic healing tool with a unique health-score tracking concept + algorithm, backed by science and doctors, that combines all the necessary tools to improve health no matter where people start–whether they’re recovering from a chronic illness or need some extra guidance when dealing with stress or anxiety.

I hope that people never stop believing in the incredible powers of their body. We are more powerful than we think. There is pure magic in us, and if we create the right conditions in our life to let that magic express itself, miracles can happen. Our cells respond to each of our thoughts and beliefs – and it starts with changing ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can.’

About The Author

As someone who’s spent years battling chronic illness, Julie Morin, co-founder of Envol, knows how difficult and pricey it can be to get our health back. She started to wonder about what would happen to our bodies should we give them the opportunity to heal from within. Julie explored that question and when she started walking again after 4 years in a wheelchair, Envol was born: an easy-to-use mobile app to guide and empower people to take control of their health and start feeling better.

Art by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

Scientists Mapping Next Pandemic

An international team of scientists has created a powerful new resource to speed the development of vaccines and treatments to battle the next pandemic.

University of Virginia School of Medicine researcher Wladek Minor, PhD, and collaborators in China and Poland have developed an Internet information system, called virusMED, that lays out all we know about the atomic structure and potential vulnerabilities of more than 800 virus strains from 75 different virus families, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, Ebola and HIV‑1. Several of the collaborators, including the lead investigator, Heping Zheng, are former students and members of Minor’s lab at UVA. 

This new panorama of the proteins of potential threats will help scientists respond quickly and effectively against the next pathogen poised to wreak havoc on humanity. Minor and his collaborators compare the resource to Google Maps, in that it organizes and annotates major points of interest on a virus that scientists can use as a roadmap in drug and vaccine development.

“The battle with COVID-19 is not over yet, but we cannot wait to start preparing for the next pandemic. VirusMED is a step towards an advanced information system that brings together researchers with diverse expertise to tackle complex biomedical challenges,” said Minor, the Harrison Distinguished Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics at UVA. “The information contained in virusMED will help viral researchers from many disciplines, especially those working on drug design or anti-viral therapies. We provide novel structural analysis and integrate pertinent information from various resources to provide a comprehensive picture of the proteins’ most important and vulnerable regions.”

Virus Hotspots

By quickly unlocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus mechanism of action, scientists were able to develop safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19. Minor’s new database aims to put that type of critical information at scientists’ fingertips in one convenient location.

VirusMED contains extensive information on virus species and strains, hosts, viral proteins and antibodies, as well as drugs that have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, among other important scientific data. The researchers call the points of interest on a virus its “hotspots,” and these hotspots make for strong starting points for drug and vaccine development.

“One of the most promising strain-indifferent antibody therapies developed for the treatment of COVID-19 used this type of information to improve upon a unique antibody isolated from a survivor who was infected by the SARS virus back in 2003,” said David Cooper, PhD, research faculty in Minor’s lab. “People who are surprised by rapid drug and vaccine design don’t realize that researchers today are building upon decades of previous research.”

One of virusMED’s major advantages is that it brings together the extant knowledge about viruses in one location, Minor said. Previously, that data was spread across multiple resources and often “siloed” so that it was not easily accessible. With virusMED, researchers can browse the information by virus or by their hotspot of interest.

The free and accessible database can be found HERE.

“One of the goals of my lab is to make tools that other scientists can use. We look at the forest and find ways to help others focus on the trees,” Minor said. “Resource generation is not glamorous, but the ultimate goal of science is to make life better. One of the anonymous peer-reviewers of the paper claimed they instantly became an enthusiastic user of the system. We expect virusMED to really make a difference.”

Findings Published

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific IUCr Journal. The work will be featured on the journal’s cover. The research team consisted of HuiHui Zhang, Pei Chen, Haojie Ma, Magdalena Woinska, Dejian Liu, Cooper, Guo Peng, Yousong Peng, Lei Deng, Minor and Zheng. .

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog.

Disneyland illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Rockefeller Productions – Winnie The Pooh

Rockefeller Productions Announces Safety Protocol For their Record-Breaking Disney Winnie The Pooh The New Musical Stage Adaptation 

Performances begin at Theatre Row on October 21, 2021 

A leader in family entertainment, Rockefeller Productions announces one of the country’s most thorough and considerate safety protocols for their highly anticipated new musical, Disney Winnie The Pooh, beginning performances on October 21, 2021, at Theatre Row. The new protocols will ensure the safety of every audience member and performer.

Keeping in line with current CDC and industry safety standards, all patrons will be required to wear a mask inside the theatre, and every person 12+ will be required to show proof of vaccine before entering the theatre.  Those under 12 years old will be required to show evidence of a negative PCR COVID test within 3 days of the performance or a negative COVID rapid antigen test from a doctor or testing site within 6 hours of performance.

To make it easier for families to return to the theatre, Rockefeller Productions has partnered with Dr. Karen Thornton to provide free rapid on-site testing, good within six hours of the test. The testing van will be located directly outside of Theatre Row (410 W 42nd Street) up to 1.5 hours before curtain time. It will be equipped with trained nurses to administer the non-invasive swab rapid test with results in 15 minutes. Parents should arrive at least thirty minutes before curtain time to ensure a negative test before entering the theatre. Rockefeller Productions will also provide activities for young people to assist families while they wait for the results.

Additionally, Rockefeller Productions will be introducing Seating Bubbles during certain performances distancing family units throughout the theatre. Finally, in its most comprehensive and definitive safety measure, they are also offering the Ultimate Winnie the Pooh VIP Experience with the privacy and comfort of a complete theatre buy-out accommodating up to 190 guests, as a way to enjoying the magic of Winnie the Pooh with the confidence and comfort of personally knowing every other patron attending the performance.

These safety measures are the most complete and thoughtful plan to bring audiences back to the theatre with confidence.

“We are excited to welcome audiences back to the theatre, but we also understand the difficulties that parents face in trying to adhere to current guidelines. Rockefeller Productions is happy to partner with Dr. Thornton and her team of professionals to make testing easy and convenient.  These efforts are well worth it to ensure the safety of our patrons while making sure they have complete confidence returning to live theatre once again.”  Rockefeller Productions’ Jonathan Rockefeller

Breaking box office records, Rockefeller Productions will debut its newest and most anticipated production Disney Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation, featuring songs by the Sherman Brothers and A.A. Milne, on October 21, 2021. This beautifully crafted musical stage adaptation is set deep in the Hundred Acre Wood and told with stunning life-size puppetry through the eyes of the Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their best friends Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, and Owl (and Tigger too).

Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Adaptation is developed and presented by renowned family entertainment creator Jonathan Rockefeller (whose spectacular puppetry is omnipresent in the acclaimed productions of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Paddington Gets in a Jam).  Performances will take place at Times Square’s Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street) beginning October 21, 2021.

Tickets are now available here.

ABOUT THE SHOW

Winnie the Pooh has been enjoyed by millions of readers and viewers ever since English author A.A. Milne first chronicled the adventures of Christopher Robin’s friends in the Hundred Acre Wood in 1926. The books, featuring illustrations by English illustrator E.H. Shephard has sold over 50 million copies worldwide. The theatrical rights to the Pooh stories were acquired by Disney in 1961, with an original intent to produce a feature film, but after production began, Walt Disney decided to make short featurettes instead. The three featurettes were subsequently incorporated into the feature The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  This was the last film in the Disney canon in which Walt Disney had personal involvement. The first featurette, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree was released during his lifetime, while Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day was still in development.  Disney’s Winnie the Pooh has since become one of the best-loved and most successful franchises in history.

The Sherman Brothers are the multi-talented Oscar® and Grammy® Award-winning American songwriting duo of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B.   Sherman. The Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical scores than any other songwriting team in film history.  Among these are the Disney classics Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and The Aristocats. The Sherman Brothers worked directly with Walt Disney on the first two Winnie the Pooh featurettes:  Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (which garnered a Grammy Award nomination) and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. The brothers won a Grammy Award for the third featurette:  Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.  All three featurettes were incorporated into the 1977 musical film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The duo also wrote songs for Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore and The Tigger Movie, with their music also featured in the movie Christopher Robin.

Jonathan Rockefeller and Rockefeller Productions embraced the challenge of re-imaging Disney’s Winnie the Pooh for a new audience by bringing it to life on stage in puppet form. The company has garnered global accolades, from critics and audiences alike, for their production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, with 14 productions playing on four continents. An extended run of the show in New York City culminated in Drama Desk and Off-Broadway Alliance nominations, as did their production of Paddington Gets in a Jam, which tours China and the US later this year. Other projects include Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, which plays on three continents, Mr. Men and Little Miss Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the award-winning short film, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, written by preeminent author/illustrator Eric Carle.

Produced in association with Disney Theatrical Productions.

illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

HRC Launches In-Home HIV Testing Kit

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, in partnership with Us Helping Us, launched the United States’ first national in-home HIV testing program centered around reaching communities disproportionately impacted by HIV—Black and Latinx gay, bisexual men and transgender women of color. Also, for the first time in its history, HRC will be providing a direct-to-door service to the LGBTQ+ community by pledging to administer a minimum of 5,000 free in-home testing kits for HIV over one year. 

In the lead up to Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on August 20, the in-home testing kits aim to empower people to learn their status and take control of their sexual health without having to visit a medical provider. Usually, HIV testing is done with a doctor, in a hospital, or at a community health clinic but due to lack of access to healthcare and HIV stigma, marginalized populations often do not receive testing.

“The continued prevalence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic requires innovative solutions—these in-home self-testing kits allow people to find out their result in the privacy of their own home, thereby reducing HIV stigma and fear,” said J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall, Human Rights Campaign Director of HIV & Health Equity. “This expanded partnership with community-based organizations presents a unique opportunity for The Human Rights Campaign to leverage its extensive reach to propel access to life-saving HIV testing for multiply marginalized communities.”

Supported by Gilead Sciences, the home-service fits under the umbrella of My Body, My Health, a comprehensive public education campaign that works toward building a generation free of HIV/AIDS. In addition to disseminating the 5,000 testing kits, the program will provide a referral to PrEP providers in the person’s area, and link HIV positive individuals to care via navigation services. The kits will include an OraQuick oral swab, condoms, lubricants, and a test information card. HRC has also created educational resources to complement the test kits, such as an instructional test video and an online service page that shows local HIV prevention and treatment services.

Along with the HIV in-home test kits, HRC Foundation has launched a community campaign that targets regions across the country that are the most affected by HIV/AIDS—those communities are New Orleans, LA, Miami, FL, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Indianapolis, IN and Greenville, MS. This is a digital advocacy, public awareness campaign that seeks to educate and activate Black and Latinx communities through discussing the intersections of sexual health, race and queerness in order to break down long-lasting HIV stigma and fear.

“Us Helping Us, one of the oldest and largest HIV prevention, treatment and care agencies in the nation, is pleased to partner with HRC Foundation on this high-impact and critically important initiative to achieve the EHE targets,” said Dr. DeMarc Hickson, Us Helping Us Executive Director. “It is of equal importance to increase HIV testing in areas such as the Southeastern U.S., which has a long-standing history of oppression, white supremacy and HIV stigma. In addition, we envision a world free of stigma and where HIV testing is part of routine health care.”

Current data confirms that the availability of HIV self-tests in the United States would not only increase HIV awareness, but would also expand access to testing among communities who would not otherwise get an HIV test in traditional healthcare settings. Furthermore, it is recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare and once every three months for gay and bisexual men.

Marginalized populations, including LGBTQ people, face both societal and economic barriers that prevent them from accessing healthcare and communities of color have been hit the hardest—1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual cisgender men and 1 in 4 Latinx gay and bisexual cisgender men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. According to a recent CDC study in seven United States cities, 42 percent of transgender women interviewed had HIV, with 62 percent of Black transgender women and 35 percent of Latinx transgender women already living with HIV.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 600,000 clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

image from Stuart Shinske by Deborah Grossmark for use by 360 Magazine

NEW YORK RENAISSANCE FAIRE RETURNS

Fun and Fantasy for All for Seven Weekends, Plus Labor Day, Starting Aug. 21

The enchantment of the New York Renaissance Faire returns! For seven weekends (plus Labor Day), from Aug. 21 thru Oct. 3, fantasy and escapism will reign throughout a bustling 16th-century English village and surrounding shire at Sterling Forest in Tuxedo, N.Y.

“Welcome back to the wonder, adventure and fun for all ages that is the New York Renaissance Faire!” said Orange County Tourism Director Amanda Dana. “Not only does the fair take visitors to a long-ago realm where fantasy rules, but the seven magical weekends contribute significantly to the visitor economy of both Orange County and the Hudson Valley. This is a highlight of the year that draws visitors to our beautiful county from near and far for enjoyment on an epic scale. It’s enough to make us all shout, ‘Huzzah!’”

Mingle with knights, fairies, minstrels and merchants. Thrill to a jousting tournament, acrobatics, swordplay, music and more. Feast on savory treats and sweets, laugh or gasp in awe (or both!) at breathtaking performances. Shop at the marketplace featuring over 100 artisans, with demonstrations including glassblowing and candle making.

In 2018, the fair was named the best Renaissance Faire in the region for the third year in a row. Last year it was voluntarily cancelled because of COVID-19. This year it returns with measures to keep guests, performers and staff safe by following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. As of now, guests who are vaccinated need not wear face masks, but social distancing is encouraged for all. Some experiences may be modified to reduce physical contact. (Please check HERE before visiting for any updates on COVID-19-related guidelines and requirements.)

“Our team is working hard to literally set the stages for world-class, immersive entertainment that will put a smile on your face as we recognize that what we do best is needed now more than ever,” said Linda McFeters, Owner and Producer of the New York Renaissance Faire. “We are working closely with the local health department and the most current CDC recommendations to ensure the safety of our guests, vendors, volunteers and staff.”

Here’s what you’ll find at the fair:

Food: Feast on a roasted turkey leg, a boar platter or a worldwide variety of treats – pho, mac and cheese, burritos and more – including many vegetarian and gluten-free options. Sample craft brews, cider and mead – a honey-based wine – along with soft drinks.

Entertainment: Acrobats, actors, musicians and more will dazzle you with performances to make you laugh one moment, gasp in awe the next. Enjoy music, magic, comedy and excitement including an action-packed live chess match and a climactic jousting competition in the Shire’s tiltyard. (Most, but not all, entertainers perform every weekend. Check the entertainment schedule HERE.)

Shopping: Wander the streets of an Elizabethan English village and peruse more than 100 artisan shops offering handmade wares of metalsmiths, clothes makers, leather goods, jewelry and more. Marvel at demonstrations in glassblowing, leatherworking, blacksmithing, candle making and pottery throwing.

Especially for Kids: “Kids’ Quest” invites the Shire’s younger visitors to join an interactive adventure helping the Fairy Folk in the Enchanted Forest rediscover their magic. The “Boffer Wars” teaches swordplay skills (with all-foam swords) to young heroes-in-training.

For a twist on the festivities, visit on one of the themed weekends:

  • Time Travelers’ Weekend, Sept. 11 and 12. Come dressed from your favorite time period (even a future era of your imagining.)
  • Pirate Weekend, Sept. 18 and 19. A celebration for all ye scallywags to meeting buccaneers and sailors of all sorts, sing sea shanties and practice your pirate talk. Yar!

Whichever day you visit, you will find a realm of merriment, revelry, food and adventure for all.

For more information, click HERE.

For a full list of attractions, lodging and dining options in Orange County, New York, please click HERE. Additionally, a fun, free, 56-page travel guide is available for digital download HERE.

illustration by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

DELTA VARIANT PUTS NORMAL BACK-TO-SCHOOL SEASON AT RISK

By: Clara Guthrie

There was a period in the late spring and early summer of this past year in which it seemed America’s COVID-19 struggles were nearing some long-awaited conclusion: the last few moments of breathlessness before a collective sigh of relief. At that time, students and their parents looked forward to a seemingly normal back-to-school season. Yet, the recent rise in the Delta variant has introduced a new wave of doubt.

On August 8 alone, The New York Times reported 36,068 new Covid-19 cases and a seven-day average of 110,360 total cases in the United States. Covid-related deaths are also on the rise, with a seven-day average of 516 deaths. This figure has risen from a weekly average of 188 deaths only one month prior, on July 6. Experts attribute these rising numbers to the highly contagious Delta variant overlaid with low vaccination rates in certain areas across the country. When asked about these trends in mid-July, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

Unfortunately, as the Delta variant continues to run rampant throughout unvaccinated communities, people who are fully vaccinated are also being infected. Although, it is far rarer. These “break-through” cases speak mainly to the wild infectiousness of the Delta variant, coupled with the facts that no vaccine is 100% effective and that our knowledge of how long immunity lasts after vaccination is still quite murky. According to CNBC, however, “break-through” cases still represent fewer than 0.08% of those who have been fully vaccinated in the United States since the start of the year.

With that being said, the Delta variant is impacting the hopes of a normal back-to-school season in two distinct ways. The first, perhaps more obvious way, is that parents and teachers are fearing for students’ health. This fear suggests a potential return to online learning and more strict social distancing and mask mandates enforced within schools.

It is important to note that COVID-19 poses a far lesser threat to young children than to adults; the risk of becoming severely ill from the virus increases for those over the age of 50 and only grows with age. According to the CDC, the risk of serious illness or complications from COVID-19 for children is actually lower than that from the flu. However, children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for any form of vaccination. This restriction is raising concerns about how susceptible younger age groups are to becoming sick, even if that sickness does not lead to any serious complications.

Thus, many parents and school districts are pursuing a range COVID-19 precautions to ensure the safety of students. Time Magazine shared a story last week of a school board in Des Moines, Iowa that has already decided to offer a virtual learning option for elementary school students. The ability to transition to in-person learning is available whenever the family feels comfortable enough to do so. This move was, in part, forced by the recent ruling of eight states, including Iowa, to ban schools from being able to require masks – despite the CDC’s recommendation that all students should wear masks inside schools, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated. “Had we been able to follow the CDC recommendations that everyone in school is masked, regardless of their vaccine status—if we were able to mandate that, then I think we’d be having a different conversation here,” Phil Roeder, a spokesperson for Des Moines’ Polk County public schools, said.

Other counties are having similar struggles, even without the imposition from state governments to ban mask mandates within schools. For example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in May that all online learning would be eliminated come fall, a decision that he has not yet reversed. But many parents are now petitioning for online options for their children as safety concerns continue to rise. One parent, Farah Despeignes, who is the president of the Bronx Parent Leaders Advocacy Group and has two middle-school-aged sons, said, “When you think about the conditions of the schools with old buildings, with not enough ventilation, that are co-located, that are overcrowded—for us, in the Bronx, in underserved communities, it’s not as simple as, ‘Well, let’s just get back to school.’”

In California, options for students are equally limited. According to The Los Angeles Times, the state has done away with “hybrid learning, ”a combination of in-person and online learning. As a result of such, Los Angeles County parents had until August 6 to choose between either solely in-person or online learning for their children. The latter option is expected to take the form of an independent study, rather than the supportive online learning of last school year. On August 6th, L.A. Unified School District reported that only 10,280 of their almost 665,000 students opted for the online option.

The second prominent way in which the Delta variant is affecting back-to-school season is through the shopping behavior of students and their families. Back when the hopes of a normal school year were still high, The National Retail Federation predicted that consumers with children K-12 would spend a record-breaking 37.1 billion dollars this year. Furthermore, it was predicted that back-to-college spending would reach 71 billion dollars. These predictions were due to the excitement associated with a long-awaited return to the classroom after over a year away, when items like lunchboxes and backpacks seemed superfluous.

However, according to a recent poll by First Insight, many consumers are feeling anxious about returning to stores, trying on clothing in dressing rooms and making big purchases due to the risk of the Delta variant. In fact, 56% of respondents said they are actively cutting back their spending at retailers. The CEO of Bath Bed & Beyond, Mark Tritton, told CNBC that their stores have observed people delaying their back-to-school investments, and that peak spending may extend further into September than usual.

As many students return to their classrooms and the Food and Drug Administration continues to work on improving vaccines for individuals under the age of 12, it will become more and more clear how great of a mark Covid-19 has left on the American schooling system and the children within it.

illustration bv Samantha Miduri for use by 360 Magazine

White Villas Reopens in Turks & Caicos

The Turks and Caicos Islands have always been synonymous with luxury, relaxation, and adventure. And now they are also one of the few places in the Caribbean that have received a designation of Alert Level 1 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lowest possible Covid-19 risk level. The wish list vacation destination is eager to welcome guests back to experience their trademark white-sand beaches and azure blue waters, free from pandemic anxieties.

With 65 percent of the destination’s population having received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 55 percent of the adult population being fully vaccinated, Turks and Caicos can proudly say that it is one of the most inoculated countries in the world. This is welcome news for the team behind White Villas, the collection of private villas with an all-inclusive style experience. 

“The desire for decompression, family connection, and new experiences is stronger than ever. Travel is on everyone’s mind,” says Simon Hénault, owner of White Villas. “We’re thrilled that Turks and Caicos islands are considered a CDC Level 1 destination, one of the very few in the Caribbean.”

White Villas is the ideal option for travelers who want to ease their way back into simple, safe, and stress-free travel. In addition to full kitchens and private pools, guests have direct access to car rentals and boat excursions, private chef services, spa treatments, an outdoor movie theater and gym, and a long list of outdoor adventure activities. Visitors get the comfort, privacy, and warmth of staying with close friends and family, with all-inclusive simplicity and high-end amenities.

 The White Villas team ensures that friends, couples, and families all have a safe, unique, and nurtured return to travel experience.

For more information on the CDC’s Travel Health Notices, please visit cdc.gov

For more information on White Villas, please visit whitevillas.net.

Images can be found here.

Unvaccinated Americans at Risk of New Variant for use by 360 Magazine

UNVACCINATED AMERICANS AT RISK OF NEW VARIANT

By: Clara Guthrie

In December of 2020, the beginning of the end of the pandemic was set into motion as the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States to frontline workers. Sandra Lindsay, an ICU nurse from the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the very first individual to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The momentous occasion was filmed and live streamed on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Twitter feed. At the time, Lindsay proudly stated, “I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part.”

Yet, in the six months following Lindsay’s statement of comfort and inspiration, it can be argued that the totality of the American people has not, in fact, done their part. According to data collected by the CDC, 45.1% of the total US population have been fully vaccinated, a number that only increases across age demographics: 77.2% of the population that is 65 years and older have been vaccinated. Additionally, 53.3% of the total population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, the rate of vaccination wildly varies when broken down state by state. According to CNN, states like Vermont and Connecticut have vaccination rates that exceed 80%. Meanwhile, other states—a majority of which are in the South—have vaccination rates below 35%.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Mississippi currently has the lowest vaccination rate in the country with only 28.86% of their population being fully vaccinated. The CDC reports that fewer than one million residents have received both doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, making them fully vaccinated. For reference, their total population is approximately three million people, based on data from the United States Census Bureau in 2019. Following Mississippi for the lowest vaccination rates are Alabama and Arkansas, with 31.86% and 33.3% of their respective populations being fully vaccinated. (As an interesting side note, these three states were also among the first to lift their mask mandates; Mississippi on March 2, Alabama on April 9 and Arkansas on March 30.)

These stark discrepancies in vaccination rates pose legitimate and pressing problems for states and counties that are struggling to vaccinate their citizens. Most concerning in these areas is the increased spread of more contagious strains of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant. As the World Health Organization explains, the more a virus spreads, “the more opportunities it has to undergo changes.” These changes can directly alter both spreadability and severity of the virus. Earlier this year, the UK variant (or the Alpha variant) gained international attention because it was more transmissible than earlier COVID-19 strains. The Delta variant—which experts are now predicting will become the dominant strain in the United States—is even easier to spread between individuals. Moreover, the Delta variant is more unpredictable in how it affects individuals, in comparison to other strains. Steve Edwards, the CEO of CoxHealth, spoke on the variant and said, “We can’t tell why one patient is doing poorly and one is doing well. There’s just something different about how this variant is affecting the immune system of our patients.”

Due to this new Delta strain, doctors are doubling down on their insistence that citizens must get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said, “After two doses—reminding you, get your second dose—after two doses, you are protected from that Delta variant.” Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician who specializes in infectious diseases and vaccines, added, “Unless we vaccinate a significant percentage of the population before winter hits, you’re going to see more spread and the creation of more variants, which will only make this task [of ending the pandemic] more difficult.” These claims are backed by a recent study conducted by Public Health England that found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalization caused by the Delta variant after two doses.

Therefore, in states like Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, there have been significant upsurges in cases of this new Delta variant, according to the aforementioned CNN article. Like what the country experienced when COVID-19 cases swelled during the winter months of late 2020 and early 2021, hospitals are again filling up in these lesser vaccinated states. According to the CDC, as of June 17, 2021, Mississippi was averaging 119 new cases of COVID-19 every seven days. Similarly, Alabama was averaging 190 new cases, and Arkansas was averaging 247 new cases every seven days. Meanwhile, Vermont was averaging only six new cases each week. It is important to note that, although slow and incomplete, some progress has been made in these southern states; Mississippi’s average weekly cases peaked in early January at around 2,324 new cases. But this progress is far from over and not yet something to celebrate.

Doctors and legislators now need to turn their attention towards pushing the vaccine into communities that are currently resistant to its presence or that are being faced with systemic barriers blocking them from receiving it. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the FDA, said, “Now we need to think about trying to push out the vaccine into community sites where people could get it delivered to them through a trusted intermediary, that’s going to mean doctors’ offices, schools, places of employment.”

This continued effort to vaccinate American citizens becomes increasingly important when one considers that the pandemic is disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minorities. America has continually fallen short of health equity, the concept that all citizens have equal opportunity for fair treatment and being healthy, and it has been brought to the forefront during the pandemic. Factors including discrimination, access to healthcare, employment as essential workers and housing conditions all pose challenges to achieving health equity. Thus, American Indian citizens and Alaska Natives represented 1,216.1 COVID-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people in America from March 1, 2020 to June 5, 2021. Black citizens represented 997.8 COVID-related hospitalizations, and Hispanic and Latinx citizens represented 993.5 hospitalizations. White Americans represented only 354.7 COVID-related hospitalizations across that same timespan.

Moreover, vaccination rates sorted by race also point towards immense health inequity. Only 1.0% of the American Indian and Alaska Native population, 9.1% of the Black population, and 15.1% of the Hispanic and Latinx population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In stark contrast, 60.2% of the white population have received their first dose.

To stop the spread of the Delta variant, reduce the further mutation of the COVID-19 virus and protect the American population, vaccinations remain of the utmost importance, per the repeated recommendations of the CDC and other medical professionals.

Covid by Mina Tocalini

5 Covid Safe Travel Tips

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced an update to their guidelines, sharing that those who are fully vaccinated are at a “low risk” of infection when traveling abroad or domestically. However, the CDC warns that states and territories may continue to enforce their own COVID-19 travel restrictions.

According to a recent Airbnb report, 54% of people have already booked their next trip, are planning to travel, or expect to travel in 2021, signaling the importance of staying healthy & safe flying.

Dr. Elizabeth Mullans shares 5 tips to travel safely:

  • Wear a face mask. The CDC’s Emergency Order mandates face masks be worn on all public conveyances. While breathable, comfortable, reusable masks are important for virus protection, wearing them for long periods of time may cause skin irritation and acne. This may trigger skin sensitivities, so make sure to wash face masks with a hypoallergenic and fragrance-free laundry detergent like, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin, Free & Clear.
  • Keep the Immune System Strong. Make sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get adequate sleep (even if it means snoozing on the plane). Airlines have stepped up cleaning and social distancing measures on planes to maximize air flow volume for all passengers through HEPA filtration systems, however, the low humidity levels inside of an airplane cabin can oftentimes cause onset of a cold. Keep a cold shortening product that contains Zinc on-hand, like Zicam, and take an immune supplement to proactively support overall health while traveling. A great option is vitafusion Triple Immune Power because of its great-tasting gummy form.
  • Organize important documents. Whether traveling internationally or domestically, always keep vaccination cards, COVID-19 test results, driver’s licenses, hotel confirmation print outs, and passports in a secure place like in a DocSafe Document Bag. For those vaccinated, laminate the vaccination card to avoid water damage.
  • Use an alcohol-free, long lasting hand sanitizer. Disinfect & Shield Hand Sanitizer is available as a moisture-infused foam or spray that leaves an invisible, “breathable” barrier on the skin. It not only destroys 99.99% of bacteria but is also eco-friendly, making it ultra-safe for use around pets and plants while protecting the treated surface for up to a full eight hours. Unlike most hand sanitizers, Disinfect & Shield is alcohol-free and eliminates the harsh fumes and cracked, dry skin that accompanies alcohol-based sanitizers. Plus, it’s safe for use on PPE and masks.
  • Adhere to CDC guidelines. Although many are not required to stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7-days after traveling, it is important to follow all state and local recommendations as they can vary state to state.

Remember to be mindful, plan out a trip well in advance, and be aware of the COVID-19 policies and guidelines set by the destination you’re visiting. Remember, a negative COVID-19 test before your trip does not necessarily mean you are in the clear. Symptoms might not show for up to two weeks, so remain cautious.

Breaking News by Nicole Salazar

Weekly News Roundup: Week of May 3

President Biden Raises Refugee Admission Cap to 62,500 People

In a move to reverse former President Donald Trump’s stricter admission cap on refugees, President Biden has raised the admission cap to 62,500 people in the next six months. Originally, Trump had administered a cap on 15,000 refugees. At first, Biden said he would stick to this figure, but changed his stance after receiving condemnation from Democrats on Capitol Hill. In a statement issued by the White House addressing this political reversal, Biden commented “This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” The New York Times says that Biden’s statement acknowledged how Trump’s budget and staffing cuts during his presidency makes it more unlikely to handle resettling 62,500 refugees within the coming year. In his statement, Biden admitted “the sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year,” he said. “We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway.”

Pfizer Vaccine to be Administered to Adolescents

The availability of the Pfizer vaccine is soon to more accessible to millions more Americans. The FDA is said to authorize the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 by early next week. Pfizer has recently released trial results in which show their vaccine to be at least as effective for adolescents as it is for the adult population. If granted access, the CDC will likely meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and announce public health recommendations for adolescent vaccinations.  Over 100 million adults have already been vaccinated, and with the Pfizer vaccine becoming available to millions more, the level of public immunity is forecasted to rise, and the number of deaths and hospitalizations are to drop.

In order to target vaccinations to younger Americans, Biden announced on Tuesday that mass vaccinations sites would shift to more local settings. He also stated his goal of vaccination 70% of Americans by July’s Independence Day. To those who are unvaccinated, Biden plead: “This is your choice. Its life and death.” On Tuesday, the Biden Administration announced that tens of millions more Americans need to get vaccinated before the rate of the coronavirus will be low enough to return to normalcy.

Subway Overpass Collapse Results in the Death of 23 People

Late Monday night in Mexico City, the collapse of a subway overpass–and subsequent fall of an active train car– resulted in the deaths of 23 people. Dozens of more victims are suffering injuries. The accident occurred on Line 12, one of the newer tracks in Mexico’s subway system. The subway system has been plagued by safety concerns from the public after a severe earthquake in 2017. Over 70 people were transported to the nearby hospitals, most of them delivered to Belisario Dominguez Hospital. Mexico’s fire fighters, military, and forensics department all arrived on scene to aid in the rescuing and recovery of the accident’s victims. Currently, Line 12 will remain closed as authorities investigate the harrowing accident. The Mayor of Mexico City, Claudio Steinbaum, spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning: ” At this moment, we can’t speculate about what happened. There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”

Derek Chauvin Files for New Trial Regarding Murder of George Floyd

The trial of the police officer involved in the killing of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder, and one count of second-degree manslaughter by Judge Peter Cahill. However, Chauvin’ lawyer, Eric Nelson, is now claiming that Chauvin’s rights were violated during the trial since Judge Cahill refused a change of venue regarding where the trial was help. As a result of such, Nelson claims that the pre-trial publicity deprived Chauvin of a fair trial. NPR reports that Nelson also has cited “prosecutorial and jury misconduct; errors of law at trial; and a verdict that is contrary to law.” In Nelson’s file motion that requests another trial, he argues that the court “abused its discretion” because of the nationwide publicity of the high-profile trial. Due to the mass publicity of the trial, Nelson says that the defense’s expert witnesses and jury felt “threatened of intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings.”

NPR reports that according to Nelson’s file motion, the court abused its discretion by:

  • When it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media
  • When it permitted the State to present cumulative evidence with respect to use of force
  • When it failed to order that a record be made of the numerous sidebars that occurred during the trial
  • When it submitted instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law with respect to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and authorized use of force

NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports on how infrequently officers are called to conduct while in uniform, “Some studies show only seven police officers since 2005 have been convicted of murder for their actions on the job. That’s even though about 1,000 or 1,100 people a year die at the hands of police.” The way in which Derek Chauvin’s initial trial ended was a long-awaited plea for justice that many Americans felt finally acknowledged and held accountable the perpetrators of police violence and systemic racism in the nation. Ultimately, it is up to Judge Peter Cahill to decide whether to open trial again for Chauvin.

Facebook’s Suspension of Donald Trump Continues

Since the Capitol insurrection on January 1, Facebook has suspended Trump’s usage of the platform. The length and permanence of the suspension has been hotly debated lately, especially since Facebook doesn’t have a standard policy or punishment regarding indefinite suspensions. On Wednesday, a team of journalists, activists, and lawyers upheld the social media company’s ban of Trump. Their discussion ended any immediate return of Trump to the platform, and sparked debate concerning freedom of speech online. Facebook’s Oversight Board cited their reasoning for banning Trump in January, stating that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible. At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions.” After Facebook reviews its action, Trump may be able to return to the platform later down the line. Other social media giants, including Twitter and YouTube, also locked Trump’s accounts after the Capitol chaos. Trump has responded to the rulings with agitation, stating that “free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth.” The New York Times reports that Facebook responded to their ruling in a statement, stating that the company is “‘pleased’ that the board recognized that its barring of Mr. Trump in January was justified. It said it would consider the ruling and ‘determine an action that is clear and proportionate.’”

Liz Cheney May Be Sequestered from G.O.P.

Rep. Liz Cheyney has received backlash from Republican lawmakers in the GOP party due to her public criticisms of former President Donald Trump. After Trump’s insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, she voted to impeach him from office. This vote to impeach Trump increased tensions between Cheyney and the members of the GOP leadership and other Republican lawmakers. Notably, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy questioned Cheyney’s ability to carry out her position in office, stating “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message. We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority.” At the Conservative Political Action Committee, Cheyney was asked if Trump should speak at the conference. She replied, “I’ve been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which following Jan. 6 I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.” While her party oppositions have landed Cheyney in controversy, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted on Tuesday, recognizing her honesty and dedication to her stance: “Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie.”

Olympians And Officials to Be Offered Pfizer Vaccine

The International Olympic Committee announced on Thursday that, in an effort to quell public safety concerns, athletes and official will be offered the Pfizer vaccine before arriving in Japan. Through utilization of domestic inoculation programs, vaccines are to be administered to patients in their home countries. However, there is no requirement for athletes, coaches, officials, or others attending the game to be vaccinated. So far, approximately only 1% of Japan’s residents have been fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times’ database. In a statement put out by the International Olympic Committee, it was notes that “any additional doses delivered by Pfizer and BioNTech will not be taken out of existing programs, but will be in addition to existing quotas and planned deliveries around the world.” Hopefully, the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer will bring celebration, instead of crisis.