Posts tagged with "CDC"

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. 

Pfizer coronavirus vaccination article illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Pfizer × BioNTech near historic vaccine

By Althea Champion

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Monday that their COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective. If approved, it could potentially be available to the public by early December, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The results came out of Pfizer’s Phase 3 trial, which involved 40,000 individuals. Of those participating, 94 contracted COVID-19. These results, like much of 2020, are historic. Vaccines have never been developed on such a fast-moving timeline. The last vaccine that was developed in such considerable haste was for mumps, and it took four years.

Pfizer says that they plan to ask the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use by the end of the month. The vaccine will require two doses administered three weeks apart. The company hopes to have enough doses for 25 million people by the end of the year, and 650 million people in 2021.

In the case that the vaccine supply is limited, the C.D.C. will first vaccinate healthcare personnel, essential workers, people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, as well as those 65 years and older.

An expedited timeline does not mean drug companies are cutting corners. Fauci, like many of his colleagues in Washington, assures that manufacturers will stick to a process of vaccine development that ensures the safety of patients. The FDA will still make the final call.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, in Pfizer’s press release. “The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.”

However, a few questions remain unanswered.

“Historically, important scientific announcements about vaccines are made through peer-reviewed medical research papers that have undergone extensive scrutiny about study design, results and assumptions,” writes Arthur Allen in the Opinion section of the NYT. “Not through company press releases.”

According to Allen, it is unclear from the press release how long Pfizer’s vaccine will keep patients protected, if it is safe for high-risk populations like the elderly, or if rare side effects can arise in patients who are vaccinated. He notes that the Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur vaccines may be safer for older patients.

Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur are subunit vaccines, like the hepatitis B vaccine. They deliver only the essential antigens of the virus to the immune system, so it learns how to attack it. Because it is only a part, or a subunit, of the virus, fewer side effects are likely.

Pfizer’s is a nucleic acid vaccine that uses RNA. According to the Washington Post, “this type of vaccine contains a strip of genetic material within a fat bubble” that enters the cell. Once inside, “the RNA generates a protein found on the surface of the virus.” It can then familiarize itself with the virus and learn how to fight it.

Moderna’s vaccine is also an RNA vaccine in Phase 3 trials. Pfizer’s success bodes very well for Moderna, according to a statement Fauci made to CNN.

Furthermore, because the vaccine must be stored in extremely low temperatures—on dry ice at negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit according to the Washington Post—its roll-out becomes complicated. If left out in the sun, or just at room temperature, or even at just below freezing, the mRNA self-destructs and the vaccine becomes useless.

Shortly after Pfizer’s announcement, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation, warned of the “dark winter” ahead, and urged Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to wear a mask until the vaccine is available.

The head of the C.D.C. warned this fall, that “for the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus,” he said from the podium. “Today’s news does not change that urgent reality.”

Advice for the Holiday Season

This holiday season is going to be one of the more unusual ones. Between a pandemic and a polarizing political year, the family get-together is going to look a little different. What do you need to know to make it go as smoothly as possible? Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, cross-cultural trainer, author and founder of Access to Culture, has offered her advice. 

Plan and Prepare in Advance but Be Flexible

A good host prepares their holiday gathering well in advance, but keep in mind you may have to practice being flexible. If COVID numbers rise, as they appear to be, you might have to postpone or cancel the festivities this year. Invited guests to a holiday celebration should respect the host’s decision to make changes, even if it comes at the last minute.  

Follow CDC Guidelines and Local Regulations

To keep everyone safe, follow the latest recommended CDC guidelines such as maintaining six feet of distance from others, providing proper ventilation, frequent hand washing, mask-wearing, smaller gatherings, and spending more time outdoors if the weather permits. Make sure and let your guests know in advance the protocols you will be following and that they are expected to follow as well. 

When in Doubt, Stay Home

In years past, maybe you would still attend Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner if you had a little cold or were slightly under the weather. This year, however, it’s just not worth the risk. Keep in mind in this pandemic-driven world that it’s not only about your health and well-being but also about being respectful of the people around you. 

Remember Your Manners

This holiday season is going to be especially challenging for all of us as we continue to manage the pandemic. The best thing we can do is be on our best behavior by practicing patience, acting with civility and respect, and being kind to each other. Don’t be a rogue guest. Avoid discussion about sex, politics, and religion. Don’t ask prying questions. Focus on gratitude and treat others how you want to be treated.

BYOM (Bring Your Own Meal & Mask)

BYOM serves double duty this year, with the ‘M’ meaning meal and mask. In the past, it was customary for guests to bring at least one dish to the holiday gathering. This year, for safety, asking each family attending to bring their own meal is not out of the question. It should also go without saying that each guest should arrive wearing a mask. Hosts need to let their guests know the BYOM rules ahead of time so there is no confusion and awkwardness. 

Drive Instead of Fly When Possible

Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel period of the year for air travel. Although air travel has been deemed rather safe despite COVID concerns, nonetheless it still increases your risk. When possible, turn holiday travel this year into a fun road trip. Consider traveling at off-peak times to avoid contact with the crowd of other holiday travelers.  

Be Aware of “Naive Realism”

Psychologists identify this as our tendency to believe that the way we see the world is the way the world really exists. Your view of COVID, politics or anything else is only one of a range of numerous perspectives. When in conversation with others, remember that your view isn’t everyone’s reality.

Los Angeles Halloween Town

Story X Illustration by Kaelen Felix 

Not the year we hoped for – COVID-19 virus; stay-at-home mandate order to working remotely. Some did not have the option to work from home, and as a result, millions have lost their jobs. Many months have flown by since everyone had to shelter in place by the policy that was enacted. Fast forward from March to October, and while we are nine months into this, it feels as if there is no end in sight. Summer is behind us, and with Fall here, Halloween is so different from any year we have experienced to date. Everything in 2020 has been turned upside down, and the world is at a stand-still.

The Walt Disney Company announced the layoffs of 28,000 total with 10,000 affecting the Disneyland resorts, parks, hotels, and stores in Anaheim, CA. The coronavirus and the pandemic have hit L.A. hard, and these layoffs are effective this coming Sunday. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has provided guidance on gatherings suggesting no more than ten people per group.

The virus continues to wreak havoc with our favorite holiday, Halloween! Why does this continue to happen? The CDC suggests that younger age group are not obeying the CDC suggestions to prevent further spreading. Halloween should be a free-spirited holiday for children and adults to play dress-up and to trick-or-treat. By restricting live entertainment and gatherings this Halloween, those feeling down or depressed may be further affected. So, how does this impact Halloween and what are the measures taken to make this year a success? And also, help with our health and well-being? The spirit of Halloween is all about expressing oneself through a costume, and of course who doesn’t want a bunch of candy by night’s end? Many places across the United States are working on solutions to abide to the social-distancing instructions.

In the Midwest where cases continually rise though some have found a different outlet to make Halloween extra creative. Minnesota, a friendly neighborhood family from the Woodbury area used a plastic piping to slide candy down safely to with physical contact. That way the children are not in close contact with the family members, and it is a safer method for the children. According to the 5 ABC Eye Witness News, the Humphries in the Woodbury family explain their thought process on this as, “Halloween is about being outside, dressing up and doing something different.” The Humphries also mentioned, “It’s important children still have those opportunities.”

In Chicago, many are taking the social-distancing measures very seriously, because they want to see children come out and enjoy a safe Halloween. A source from Block Club Chicago says, “One Chicago neighborhood will hold a contest on the best decorated house on Kenmore Avenue.” While that’s one example of how social distance will be handled, because people can ride around in their cars and vote accordingly. Meanwhile, another part of this adds, “The city is hosting a series of event giveaways for an entire week leading up to the holiday, which they’ve dubbed “Halloweek.”  Such a fun way to put on a show in the city suburb of Chicago. Another area in Albuquerque, New Mexico have routed together a bus with ten zombies on what they call an “Art” bus to keep social-distancing measures in order and to scare passengers as they board the bus. From a local news KRQE, “The city of Albuquerque announced this Friday that two art buses would feature 10 “zombies” in the seats usually taped off social distancing purposes.” Another creative method taken into action to keep the Halloween tradition and spirit alive.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suggests that people comply with the personal protection measures, such as wearing a cloth-faced masks, keeping the six feet social distancing measures and most importantly, continually to wash hands often and use hand sanitizer if need be. Some of the best options to celebrate Halloween include doing virtual costume contests, car parades or trick-or-treating in a safe manner. Set up a table outside with candy in separate plastic bags and provide hand sanitizer as well. Forbes suggests if you have children there are some options for children’s interest in Halloween movies. Some of these examples include, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, Coco, Monster House, Beetle Juice and Corpse Bride and more.

While we are still in this pandemic; we should applaud our essential front line responders for their diligent efforts. They work tirelessly to save many lives and they should be honored as our true heroes. Let us do our part to ensure we all have a fun and a safe Halloween this year even though this was not the year we wanted, at least we are close to 2021.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Opioid Crisis Takes a Turn with Death of Founder

By: Elle Grant

The opioid epidemic is one of the great public health crises facing the United States today. Over the past two decades, the crisis has ebbed and flowed in different moments, but overall deaths, especially amongst younger people, have increased at an alarming rate. One of the most distinct drugs at the root of the problem is OxyContin from the company Purdue Pharma, a substance now known to be distinctly addictive and dangerous.

OxyContin, also known on the street as killers, OC, Oxy, poor man’s heroin or Oxycotton, is dangerous particularly due to its most active ingredient; “a 12-hour, time-released form of oxycodone, a synthetic form of morphine that is found in common painkillers like Percodan and Percocet.” Alarmingly, OxyContin can have as much as ten times the amount of oxycodone as an average Percodan or Percocet. Approved by the FDA in 1995, the National Institute on Drug Abuse asserts the “chronic use of drugs such as OxyContin can lead to physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped, including insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements. Large doses can cause severe, potentially fatal, respiratory depression.” Intended to be taken orally, many patients and addicts chose to inject or snort the pills (after being modified) to quicken and heighten the effects. Oxycodone is intensely addictive, requiring more frequent and stronger doses as the body becomes dependent.

Efforts were being made to hold OxyContin owners and Purdue Pharma executives accountable for their actions. Thousands of lawsuits had been filed against the Sackler family, one of America’s wealthiest with an estimated combined net worth of about $13 billion. One of the main pillars of the family was Jonathan Sackler, son of one of the three Sackler brothers that transformed the small drug company Purdue Frederick into a hugely profitable pharmaceutical firm. Sackler passed away on the June 30 due to cancer, complicating many of the lawsuits as he was often named a defendant. Other members of his family have been named other defendants, depending on the case.

The famed OxyContin pill launched in the mid-1990s and was continually and thoroughly promoted by the Connecticut based family. The members of the family are charged with the accusation that “eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the US opioid epidemic” due to an unethical, irresponsible, and often illegal scheme. Furthermore, “the actions of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma included sharing studies that they knew were misleading, claiming that this was an effective, long-term treatment that didn’t give rise to risks of addiction,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser told reporters at a news conference last year. “Those claims were verifiably false and ignored expert warnings. And they even undermined studies suggesting that there were addictive effects.”

Purdue as a company as well as the Sackler family deny any wrongdoing. Currently, Purdue seeks bankruptcy protection in order to counteract nearly 3,000 lawsuits that attribute blame to Purdue for beginning the opioid crisis. A Department of Justice criminal investigation is ongoing, relating to this process.

The opioid crisis, an epidemic that has spanned from 1999 to the present, has killed almost 500,000 individuals, potentially more. This count includes those that have died from an overdose involving an opioid, including both prescription and illicit opioids. Said epidemic can be characterized in three waves. The first beginning with the rise of prescribed opioids in the 1990s, including “natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone.” The second wave is marked by an increase of overdose deaths specifically related to heroin. The third commenced in 2013, with alarmingly stark increases in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, especially those “involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl” Unfortunately, “the market for illicitly manufactured fentanyl continues to change and it can be found in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.”

Many Americans are unaware of the impact of the opioid crisis, or the fact that it is becoming increasingly, not decreasingly relevant to society. Yet, there are signs of positive change. Overall opioid-involved death rates decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018, with sharper drops in prescription and heroin-involved deaths. Yet the increase in synthetic opioid-involved death rates increased by 10%, proving more work must be done to protect Americans. Currently, the Center for Disease Control combats this epidemic by monitoring trends, advancing research, equipping states with resources, supporting providers, partnering with public safety officials, and increasing public awareness.

Apart from crooked doctors, big pharmaceuticals, especially Jonathan Sackler, the Sackler family, and Purdue Pharma have received a majority of the blame for the epidemic. Jonathan Sackler’s death marks the death of who many see as a villain, but before justice was served in the American court system.

The opioid crisis, two decades in, has captivated the American imagination through film and media, as many crises often due. Netflix in particular has made efforts to document the crisis, including with the true crime series The Pharmacist and the limited series The Business of Drugs. Coming to Netflix next month is the long-awaited Hillbilly Elegy, starring Glenn Close and Amy Adams, both nominated for six Academy Awards each. The film lends a careful eye towards Appalachia, an area ravaged by the opioid epidemic, and features Adams in the role of a struggling addict. The film has already generated major Oscar buzz and will certainly bring further attention to a crucial issue.

Addiction is an incredibly difficult disease to combat. If you or a love one is struggling, please consider contacting the national hotline.

Teen Pregnancy

By Cassandra Yany

Teen Pregnancy in the United States

In 2018, the birth rate among women aged 15 to 19 years in the United States was less than half of what it was in 2008, which was 41.5 births per 1,000 girls, as stated by the Pew Research Center.

In 2017, 194,377 babies were born to women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 19 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate dropped seven percent from 2016, with 18.8 babies born per 1,000 women in this age group. This was a record low for the nation.

The teen birth rate has been declining since the early 1990s, and this decline accelerated after the Great Recession. A 2011 Pew Research Center study connected the decrease in teen births to the economic downturn of the recession. The rate has continued to fall even after the economy’s recovery.

Evidence suggests that the declining birth rate is also partly due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more who are sexually active using birth control than in previous years. Still, the CDC reports that U.S. teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher than other “western industrialized” nations.

DoSomething.org states that three out of 10 American girls will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20. About 25 percent of teen moms will have a second child within two years of their first baby.

Data shows that there are racial, ethnic and geographic disparities among teen pregnancies in the U.S. From 2016 to 2017, birth rates among 15 to 19-year-olds decreased 15 percent for non-Hispanic Asian teens, nine percent for Hispanic teens, eight percent for non-Hispanic white teens, six percent for non-Hispanic Black teens, and six percent for Native American teens. In 2017, the birth rate of Hispanic teens was 28.9 percent and of non-Hispanic black teens was 27.5 percent for non-Hispanic Black teens. These were both two times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white teens, which was 13.2 percent. Among the different racial and ehtnic groups, Native American teens had the highest rate of 32.9 percent.

From 2007 to 2015, the teen birth rate was lowest in urban communities with 18.9 percent, and highest in rural communities with 30.9 percent— as reported by the CDC. During the same years, the rate among teens in rural communities had only declined 37 percent in rural counties, while large urban counties saw a 50 percent decrease and medium and small counties saw a 44 percent decrease. State-specific birth rates from 2017 were lowest in Massachusetts (8.1 percent) and highest in Arkansas (32.8 percent).

Socioeconomic disparities also exist among teen pregnancy rates. Teens in child welfare systems are at higher risk of teen pregnancy and birth than other groups of teens. Those living in foster care are more than twice as likely to become pregnant than those not in foster care. This then leads to financial difficulties for these young families. More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager, and two-thirds of families started by a young mother are considered poor.  

Teen pregnancy and motherhood can have significant effects on a young woman’s education. According to DoSomething.org, parenthood is the leading reason for teen girls dropping out of school. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by the age of 22, while 90% of women who do not give birth during their teen years graduate from high school. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. 

Being a child of a teen mother can also have lasting effects on an individual. The children are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school. They are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives and face unemployment as a young adult. They could also have more health problems and are more likely to become a parent as a teenager themselves. 

According to the CDC, teen fatherhood occurred at a rate of 10.4 births per 1,000 ranging from 15 to 19-years-old in 2015. Data indicates that these young men attend fewer years of school and are less likely to earn their high school diploma. 

A decline in teen pregnancy means an increase in U.S. public savings. According to the CDC, between 1991 and 2015, the teen birth rate dropped 64%, which led to $4.4 billion dollars in public savings for 2015 alone.

Global Teen Pregnancy

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 12 million girls 15 to 19-years-old and 777,000 girls under 15 give birth in “developing” regions each year. About 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 in these areas become pregnant.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls age 15 to 19 years globally. An estimated 5.6 million abortions occur each year among 15 to 19-year-old girls, with 3.9 million of them being unsafe. This can lead to death or lasting health problems.

Additionally, teen moms face higher risk of eclampsia, puerperal endometriosis and systemic infections than 20 to 24-year-old women. Babies of these mothers face higher risk of lower birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions.

Across the globe, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to take place in marginalized communities that are driven by poverty, and lack of education and employment opportunities. In many societies and cultures, girls get married and have children while they are teenagers. In some locations, girls choose to become pregnant due to limited educational and employment prospects. These societies either value motherhood and marriage, or union and childbearing may be the best option available to these young women. 

Teenage girls in some areas may not be able to avoid pregnancy because they do not have the knowledge of how to obtain contraceptive methods or how to use them. There are restrictive laws and policies regarding provision of contraception based on age or marital status that prevent these women from access to forms of pregnancy prevention. 

Health worker bias also exists in these areas, as well as an unwillingness to acknowledge adolescents’ sexual health needs. These individuals also may not be able to access contraception due to transportation and financial constraints. 

Another cause for unintended pregnancy around the work is sexual violence, with more than one-third of girls in some countries reporting that their first sexual experience was forced. After pregnancy, young women who became mothers before the age of 18 are more likely to experience violence in their marriage or partnership.

The University of Queensland in Australia conducted a study that found children who experience some type of neglect are seven times more likely than other victims of abuse to experience teen pregnancy. They drew these conclusions by looking at data from 8,000 women and children beginning in pregnancy and moving into early adulthood.

According to News Medical, researchers found that neglect was one of the most severe types of maltreatment when compared to emotional, sexual and physical abuse. The study defined child neglect as “not providing the child with necessary physical requirements (food, clothing or a safe place to sleep) and emotional requirements (comfort and emotional support) a child should receive, as determined by the Queensland Govt. Department of Child Safety.”

CBS reported that an increase in calls to Japan’s pregnancy hotline since March indicates that COVID-19 has caused an uptick in teenage pregnancies there. Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, Japan said that calls from junior and senior high school students hit a 10-year high back in April. Pilcon, a Tokyo-based non-profit that runs school sex-ed programs, said that it was flooded with calls from concerned teens after they used home pregnancy tests or they missed periods.

Global Citizen stated that 152,000 Kenyan teen girls became pregnant during the country’s three-month lockdown, which was a 40 percent increase in their monthly average. Data from the International Rescue Committee shows that girls living in refugee camps were particularly affected, with 62 pregnancies reported at Kakuma Refugee Camp this past June compared to only eight in June 2019.

In an online press conference, Dr. Manisha Kumar, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières task force on safe abortion care, said, “During the pandemic, a lot of resurces got pulled away from a lot of routine services and care, and those services were redirected to coronavirus response.” The growing economic, hunger and health crises worldwide due to the pandemic makes this an especially challenging time for pregnant teens. 

Both Marie Stopes International and the United Nations Fund warned that the new focus on the coronavirus in the medical field would negatively affect reproductive health. This included disruptions to family planning services and restricted access to contraception, leading to more unintended pregnancies.

Preventing Teen Pregnancy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Evidence Review has identified a variety of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. These include sexuality education programs, youth development programs, abstinence education programs, clinic-based programs and programs specifically designed for diverse populations and locations. 

Resources that focus on social health determinants in teen pregnancy prevention, specifically at the community level, play a crucial role in addressing the racial, ethnic and geographical disparities that exist in teen births. The CDC also supports several projects that educate, engage and involve young men in reproductive health. 

According to the CDC, research shows that teens who have conversations with their parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy tend to begin to have sex at a later age. When or if they do have sex, these teenagers are more likely to do so less often, use contraception, and have better communication with romantic partners.

A 2014 report by the Brooking Insitution’s Senior Fellow Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College found that the MTV reality programs like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” led to a 5.7 percent in teen births in the 18 months after the shows first aired. This number accounts for approximately one-third of the overall decline in teen births during that time period.

In locations where more teenagers watched MTV, they saw a larger decline in teen pregnancy after the introduction of the show. The show also led young adults to educate themselves more on birth control. Research showed that when an episode aired, there were large spikes the following day in the rate that people were conducting online searches for how to obtain contraceptives.

Contraception and Reproductive Rights

According to Power to Decide, contraception is a key factor in recent declines in teen pregnancy. Yet, over 19 million women eligible for publicly funded contraception don’t have access to the full range of birth control methods where they live.

Between 2011 and 2015, 81 percent of females and 84 percent of males between the ages of 15 and 19 who had sex reported using a contraceptive the first time. This number increased for females since 2002, when 74.5 percent used contraception. 

A sexually active teen who doesn’t use contraceptives has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year. 

NPR reported that a challenge to the Affordable Care Act could reach the Supreme Court in the near future, which would significantly affect reproductive healthcare. This could make contraceptives unaffordable and unobtainable for some Americans, which would in turn affect the number of teenagers having unprotected sex.

Some also fear that the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg will jeopardize women’s reproductive rights. If her replacement is opposed to abortion, it will most likely turn the court in favor of increasing restrictions on abortion, and could even go as far as to overturn Roe v. Wade. This would have the potential to increase the number of unsafe abortions among pregnant teens, or increase the number of teen births.

According to Kaiser Health News, there is a case waiting in the lower court that involves federal funding of Planned Parenthood in both the Medicaid and federal family programs. Ginsburg always sided with women on issues such as these, so her absence could mean a lack of access to education, family planning and contraceptives for teens.

Mosquito illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Preventing Mosquito Bites Around Your Home

By Dr. Craig Stoops

For many people, mosquitoes are a part of life in the summer. Their presence is annoying and can even threaten the health of people and pets.  

Fortunately, there are ways people can protect themselves against mosquito bites. Three effective ways to control mosquitoes around a house and limit exposure to their bites are: 1) Source reduction, 2) EPA-approved repellents, and 3) Hiring a professional.

Source reduction

Many mosquito species like to use water found in unattended bird baths or discarded items such as buckets, tarps, and children’s toys as locations to lay their eggs and continue the next generation. By emptying and cleaning bird baths and discarding items that can hold water (often called “tip and toss”) one can greatly diminish the mosquito population around their house and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

It is important to get your neighbors involved as well. What they do will impact you because mosquitoes will easily go from one property to the one next door seeking a blood meal.

EPA-approved repellents

There are numerous safe and effective insect repellents available on the market in a variety of formulations such as sprays, creams and wipes. The best and longest-lasting repellents contain the active ingredient DEET, but there are other active ingredients available such as picaridin, IR3535 and several botanical ingredients such as lemongrass oil and others. Visit the U.S. CDC website on mosquito bite prevention for additional information: https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about/prevent-bites.html

Researchers are always looking for additional “tools for the repellent toolkit” and new effective active ingredients have been recently found. One example is nootkatone. The EPA has recently provided approval for this active ingredient developed by scientists and the U.S. CDC from the Alaska yellow cedar tree. It has shown in the laboratory to be effective at repelling both mosquitoes and ticks and is available for development by a company into a commercially available product. 

Not everyone will be comfortable using a repellent that contains DEET. And repellents are only effective if people use them, so having ingredients like nootkatone available is important in protecting people from mosquito bites. Here is the U.S. CDC webpage on nootkatone: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0810-nootkatone-registered-epa.html

Hire a professional

While people can do a lot to control the mosquitoes around their house by discarding and emptying containers that breed mosquitoes, there may be times that getting advice from a professional is necessary to effectively control the problem. Pest control operators specifically trained in identifying the mosquitoes in your yard and recommending an integrated control program can be a great way to provide season-long relief from mosquito bites.  

When considering using a pest control company, be sure to do your homework and make certain you are hiring certified professionals who understand the methods and limitations of mosquito control. These professionals will be able to identify problem areas and use both non-chemical and EPA-approved insecticides to control the problem.

Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), LCDR (ret.) MSC USN, is a retired U.S. Navy medical entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. He has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has a B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from Clemson University. Dr. Stoops is board certified by the Entomological Society of America in medical and veterinary entomology.

Kaelen Felix illustrates eviction article for 360 Magazine.

EVICTIONS POSTPONED FOR NOW

By Althea Champion

The Trump Administration recently announced a new eviction moratorium, which took effect Sept. 4th and will last until the end of December. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention put forward the order, which is meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, rent will be due when the moratorium expires at the end of the year.

The order is expected to go much further than its predecessor, the eviction ban classified under the CARES act, which protected 12 million tenants in qualifying properties and expired July 24th. The new moratorium is expected to protect all tenants who do not expect to earn more than $99,000 this year or face other financial limitations, and prove they are eligible.

This protection is meant to prevent a devastating wave of homelessness, that of which will likely spread the virus, worsening an already dire situation in the U.S.

Tenants breathed a huge sigh of relief as the news broke. According to a survey conducted by the National Housing Law Project, 85% of respondents expected a dramatic surge in eviction cases once the moratoria expired. However, the bills of tenants are not evaporating. Rather, they are starting a tab kept by their landlords.

“This Order is a temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” the order reads. “This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract.”

Rather, it simply does not allow a landlord or owner of a property to evict tenants from their homes during the four month period it is active.

Tenants need to apply as soon as possible.

“To apply for the new moratorium, tenants will have to attest to a substantial loss of household income, the inability to pay full rent and best efforts to pay partial rent,” reports Matthew Goldstein of the New York Times. “Tenants must also stipulate that eviction would be likely to leave them homeless or force them to live with others at close quarters.”

This moratorium does not offer financial assistance. Instead, renters and landlords will take on the debt as they continue living in and renting their homes.

“The eviction moratorium the CDC enacted works from a health point of view, but it dodges the fundamental question, which is, how are we ultimately going to pay for this?” said Doug Quattrochi, a small landlord from Mass. on PBS NewsHour. “Just putting temporary band-aids on isn’t going to work when we knew, at the start of this, we were gonna need stitches.”

Maria Soloman illustration for Labor Day inside 360 magazine.

LABOR DAY: A TIME TO MOURN

By Althea Champion

While others spend the day with their families outside, grilling kabobs, taking advantage of the last inklings of warm weather, or swarming flash retail sales, others will spend it inside either on the clock on site, from home, or in isolation.

This Labor Day, 28 million Americans are out of work. Those who are, chiefly nurses, grocery store workers, custodial staff, and essential workers alike, are risking their health to stay employed. And, these are the people who, most likely, will not actually be permitted a day off to celebrate the federal holiday.

Created by the labor movement, Labor Day is meant to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of American workers. More than a century ago, when it was celebrated in New York City for the first time, a parade ran through the streets, made complete by waving workers wearing smiling faces and flying flags, proud to be members of the new and progressive labor party. 

But, its establishment as a federal holiday came at a steep price. It was only after a massive boycott and the bloodshed of 13 and injuries of 53 did President Grover Cleveland recognize the first Monday of each and every September, which was already being observed in 23 other states, as a federal holiday.

Today, a great proportion (43%) of the essential working men and women of this country are people of color. And the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting them the hardest.

“According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native people had an age-adjusted COVID-19 hospitalization rate about 5.3 times that of non-Hispanic white people,” reported William F. Marshall, III M.D. “COVID-19 hospitalization rates among non-Hispanic Black people and Hispanic or Latino people were both about 4.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white people.”

For the 1 in 5 people in the workforce receiving unemployment compensation, the day is similarly solemn. Benefits are in high demand. And, some of those who applied for it have either not received it because they were denied, or are still waiting.  The extension of their benefits, some of which have not even been delivered yet to applicants, are a hot spot of contention amongst congress, and job opportunities are few and far in between.

According to Aimee Pichee of CBS News, the unemployment rate fell below 10% for the first time since March. Despite this promising piece of news, she also reminds us that, “the hiring rate has slowed each month this summer, a signal that the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic may be losing steam.” 

Today, instead of going to a party or participating in a parade, we will acknowledge the impact of our workers, and mourn those who lost their lives fighting on the front lines against a pandemic that our country’s unit of government could not contain. Many are still fighting, punching a clock day-in and day-out, and will do so today despite the holiday.