Posts tagged with "COVID-19 pandemic"

COVID-19 Trial Tests if Common Drug Can Keep Patients Out of Hospital

At-risk people diagnosed with COVID-19 across the United States and Canada can participate in a clinical trial testing whether a common drug can keep them from getting sicker and keep them out of the hospital.­­

The trial, conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is based on a discovery by the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Alban Gaultier, PhD, and a former graduate student, Dorian A Rosen, PhD.

Gaultier and Rosen found last year that the antidepressant fluvoxamine may stop the deadly inflammation known as sepsis, in which the immune response spirals out of control. The drug’s apparent benefit for dampening dangerous inflammation prompted the Washington University researchers to begin investigating its potential benefit for COVID-19, which can also cause dangerous overreactions of the immune system.

“If this clinical trial is proven successful, fluvoxamine could become a standard treatment for patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19, especially patients at risk,” Gaultier said. “Even the best vaccines do not protect 100% of the population, and discovery of safe and affordable treatments to prevent COVID-19-associated complications is critical.”

Fluvoxamine and COVID-19

Earlier this year, the Washington University researchers launched their first clinical trial of the drug in patients with COVID-19. That trial compared fluvoxamine with a harmless placebo in 152 adult outpatients. None of the 80 participants who received fluvoxamine became seriously ill after 15 days, while six patients who received placebo did. Of those six, four were hospitalized, for periods ranging from four to 21 days. One was on a ventilator for 10 days.

Based on those initial results, Washington University is now launching a much larger trial open to residents across the United States and Canada. The trial is seeking approximately 880 at-risk participants, age 18 and older, who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild symptoms.

Participants will be provided with either fluvoxamine or a placebo for approximately 15 days. No face-to-face contact is required; everything necessary will be sent to the participants’ doorsteps.

Contactless Check-Ins

The researchers will track the patients by videochat, email or telephone to determine if fluvoxamine provides a benefit and helps keep participants out of the hospital. During brief daily check-ins, trial participants will report their oxygen levels, blood pressure and temperature, along with whether they are feeling shortness of breath or have had any other problems.

The study team will continue to follow the participants for approximately 90 days after they have finished taking fluvoxamine or the placebo.

The trial is open to people who have at least one risk factor for severe COVID-19, such as being 40 or older, being part of a high-risk racial/ethnic group (such as African-American, Hispanic, Native American or biracial), or having one or more medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, a lung disease or an immune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis.

For more information about the trial, visit this website.

360 Magazine, Business

Working From Home For The Holidays: Tips To Stay Productive And Employed

The holiday season brings families together, but it also means added distractions for the many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How can remote workers keep their focus sharp and their productivity high while noise and interruptions surround them? And what can businesses do to ensure their employees aren’t slacking and projects are on track?

“Working from home creates a different psychological vibe from the all-business environment of a brick-and-mortar office setting, and that feeling is magnified during the holidays,” says Cynthia Spraggs (www.virtira.com), a veteran of working remotely, author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done, and CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that helps other businesses work virtually.

“The holidays bring new challenges to getting work done efficiently at home, and at the same time, employers have concerns about how the holidays can affect workers’ productivity in a home setting. It can cause tension between managers and employees.” 

Spraggs offers tips to employees and employers about working from home productively during the holidays:

How WFH employees can overcome holiday distractions

  • Create a mental commute and brain warm-up. A morning routine can help clear the mind and prepare for the working mindset. “The drive to the office used to create a mental separation between home life and work life and give the worker space and time to prepare for the day,” Spraggs says. “A similar separation time is vital at home, especially in a holiday atmosphere, in order to focus on the work tasks ahead. Develop a routine, such as reading or exercise, that warms up your brain.”
  • Create must-do lists. The holidays are filled with gift lists, parties, family obligations, baking plans, and other tasks that aren’t usually on the everyday agenda. “When these distractions make it difficult to focus,” Spraggs says, “it helps to start the day with a list of work tasks that must be completed that day. Prioritizing them makes it more likely they’ll get done, even if your mind does veer off into visions of sugar plums.”
  • Keep your office space a quiet place, and show everyone the door.

“Establishing a clear boundary is a must,” Spraggs says. “I strongly advise you to put a door between you and the rest of the household, and keep it shut. Otherwise, the home holiday cheer will break your concentration as people and pets stream in.”

How Employers Can Keep WFH Workers From Slacking During Holidays

  • Trust, don’t micromanage. Some businesses go so far as screen- or mouse-tracking software on company-provided devices to check in on their workforce. But Spraggs says that type of micromanaging can be counterproductive as employees feel distrusted and overly pressured. “Such a management practice during the holidays comes across worse,” she says. “Managers can find less intrusive ways to help employees stay on track. Set targets and measure results, preferably using online dashboards with status reports. This makes it easy for employees to earn your trust. The more you trust those who have earned it, and don’t hound them, the more they will produce.”
  • Have daily check-ins. Remote managers should establish either a daily one-on-one call or team call with their employees. In the holiday season, Spraggs says, extra efforts should be made in communication to compensate for people taking time off and getting projects completed. “A regular routine of calls provides a forum for the employees to consult with the manager and each other,” Spraggs says, “and the manager can track performance in real time.”
  • Set holiday goals and rewards. “Your quarterly goals can be augmented by special holiday goals and rewards for meeting them,” Spraggs says. “These dangled carrots incentivize working diligently at home during the holidays and give them a bonus. Making it fun and competitive, the productivity goes up.” 

“It’s all about discipline and knowing how to protect the work side of your home from the fun side during the holidays,” Spraggs says.

About Cynthia Spraggs

Cynthia Spraggs (www.virtira.com) is the author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done: 50 Tips for Leaders and Professionals to Work Remotely and Outperform the Office. She is CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that focuses on remote team performance. Before taking leadership of the company in 2011, Spraggs worked with large consulting and tech companies while completing her MBA and research into telecommuting.

Thunderbird School of Global Management Celebrates Grads with Robots & Holograms 

Delivering an innovative and inclusive experience fit for this historic year, Thunderbird safely recognized the academic accomplishments of its class of 2020 in a technology-enhanced graduation celebration today to close an unprecedented fall semester.

The online event took place within an immersive virtual reality rendering of Thunderbird’s new global headquarters, opening August 2021. The ceremony was held in a digital version of the global forum, which will be a centerpiece of the state-of-the-art facility. The commencement speaker appeared as a holographic projection within the virtual building, which mirrors the real headquarters under construction now. Outstanding graduates also had a special aerial delivery of their award certificates, courtesy of the Dean’s drone.

“The Coronavirus Pandemic has accelerated the adoption of transformative new technologies like the ones we’re pioneering at Thunderbird that help us stay healthy while connecting us so we can still learn and celebrate together,” said Director General and Dean, Dr. Sanjeev Khagram.

“In keeping with our commitment to impactful and inclusive innovation when others retreat, we’re harnessing these powerful tools not only to adapt to the challenging circumstances of this historic health crisis, but also to be a vanguard in business, leadership, and management education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution going forward. As the most global and digital leadership, management and business academy in the world, we’re proud to celebrate our 2020 graduates and their families in a way that transcends limitations and highlights the future-ready skills and experience they gained at Thunderbird. Next, we look forward to welcoming our fall 2021 class to the most cutting-edge educational facility anywhere,” Khagram said.

About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird School of Global Management is a unit of the Arizona State University Enterprise. For 75 years, Thunderbird has been the vanguard of global management and leadership education, creating inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide by educating future-ready global leaders capable of tackling the world’s greatest challenges. Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management was ranked #1 in the world for 2019 by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. ASU is ranked No. 1 “Most Innovative School” in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for six years in succession.

About ASU

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence, and, impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social, and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Ellen DeGeneres illustrated by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Ellen Tests Positive for COVID

By Hannah DiPilato

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has shut down her talk show until January after testing positive for Covid-19. 

“Hi Everyone,” DeGeneres wrote. “I want to let you all know that I tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, I’m feeling fine right now. Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines. I’ll see you all again after the holidays. Please stay healthy and safe,” wrote Ellen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s official Twitter account

The announcement to cancel the show came from a spokesperson from Telepictures studio. “Following Ellen’s announcement this morning, we have paused production on the Ellen DeGeneres Show until January,” said the statement. 

The show had returned to the air in Septmeber after a summer of employees reporting the show as a “toxic work environment.” Ellen made an apology about these allegations during the September premire. 

“As you may have heard this summer, there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show,” DeGeneres said during the first episode back on the air. “And then there was an investigation. I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously. And I want to say, I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power. I realized that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there. My name is there. My name is on underwear. We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes. And today we are starting a new chapter.”

DeGeneres has apologized to her staff for the environment of the show. Employees reported accounts of sexual misconduct, racism and “culture of fear.”  This has resulted in many celebrities turning down the oppurtunity to be featured on the show. Although the show has featured big celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Jimmy Kimmel in the past, celebrities don’t want to be featured on a show with such negative backlash. 

Ever since the show’s return to air, the once popular talk show is now struggling to stay on top. According to Buzzfeed, the show hasn’t been able to book A-List celebrities for appearances. The show has also lost advertisers as well as seeing a large dip in viewer ratings. Usually Decemeber is a busy time for The Ellen Show because of the “12 Days of Giveaways” segment that runs through the holiday season. 

This year The Ellen Show planned to give the gifts to those impacted by coronavirus such as frontline workers and affected families. However, an employee has said this year’s gifts that will be given to the audience are much less extravagant than usual. 

“In a typical year, ‘12 Days of Giveaways’ is huge. We’ve basically claimed Christmas on daytime TV. When you think of Christmas on TV, you think of The Ellen Show,” said the employee. “Everyone wants to be in the audience. Everyone wants the gifts. And so we line up all these crazy sponsors, and people love it. But this year, our ‘12 Days’ is more condensed. We don’t have as many sponsors.”

Although the show is postponed until January, DeGeneres has signed a contract that continues the talk show through 2022. While the show is struggling more than usual, executives have said the show isn’t going anywhere.

Cash and wallet illustration for 360 Magazine

4 Tips For Ambitious Young Women’s Careers

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a double whammy for young women eager to launch their careers.

Young people in general have had their job searches stymied by the recession. Meanwhile, women of all ages have seen their careers impacted negatively more than men by the events of 2020.

But despite the challenges, there is hope for ambitious young women just starting out who want to make a mark, even in male-centric industries, says Deborah Fairchild, president of Nashville-based VEVA Sound (www.vevasound.com), which verifies and archives projects for clients in the music industry.

“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy,” she says. “But if you can avoid becoming discouraged, and can face the world with firm determination, the opportunities will be there.”

Fairchild, who started her career with VEVA Sound as an archival engineer in 2004 and rose to lead the company in all facets of the business, has succeeded in an industry in which women are still underrepresented.

Just as an example, a study released in 2019 by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative looked at 700 popular songs and found that women accounted for only 21.7% of artists, 12.5% of songwriters, and 2.7% of producers.

Fairchild understands the challenges today’s young women face, and she offers a few tips for those who are just now launching their careers and hope to move up in their organizations:

  • Be prepared to clean toilets. This could be viewed metaphorically, but in Fairchild’s case it was also literal. “When I started as an intern at a studio, I did everything they asked – even clean toilets,” she says. “To pursue a professional career in the music industry, you have to be prepared to pay your dues, starting at the bottom and working your way up. I imagine that’s true for a lot of other industries as well.”
  • Learn from everyone. Formal education is great, and it’s wonderful to have a college degree, but once you’re on the job you will discover how much more there is to learn from watching and listening to other people, Fairchild says. Just about anyone in an organization – from the lowest-paid employee to the CEO – has skills or knowledge they can share with you that will prove useful in your career journey. “Whenever you meet someone,” she says, “always assume they have something to teach you until they prove they don’t.”
  • Networking is a key, but not the key. Who you know is important. So is what you know. “A strong network will give you opportunities,” Fairchild says, “but your knowledge and capabilities will be what give you a long-lasting career.”
  • Know when to pivot. At every stage of your career, stay sensitive to when it’s time to pivot, Fairchild says. “The interesting thing about the music industry is that some things take generations to change, while others change on a dime,” she says. “The ability to discern when to move on or when to double down will set you apart.”

“The pandemic has made things tough for those just trying to launch a career, which means it’s more important than ever to stay positive and persevere,” Fairchild says. “Grab the opportunities that are there, and then make the most of them.”

About Deborah Fairchild

Deborah Fairchild, president of VEVA Sound (www.vevasound.com), started her career with the company as an archival engineer in 2004. In the past 16 years she has risen to lead the company in all facets of the business. She has grown VEVA into a global entity servicing major labels in North America and Europe, establishing offices in New York, Los Angeles, and London in addition to the company’s headquarters in Nashville.

Fairchild has kept VEVA at the forefront of technology and continues to evolve and adapt VEVA’s services and technology to assist the needs of their extensive client base. She advises many label executives, producers, engineers and artists seeking archival and asset management solutions.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a COVID-19 Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Uptick in Nursing Home Covid Cases

New Nursing Home Cases In Midwest States Increase By More Than 400% Since September

AHCA/NCAL Calls On CDC To Give Long-Term Care Facilities The Highest Priority For Vaccine Distribution And On Congress To Replenish Emergency Funding 

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year. Today, they released an updated report showing nursing homes in the U.S. have now experienced the worst outbreak of weekly new cases since last spring due to the community spread among the general population, surpassing previous peaks since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) started tracking cases in nursing homes.

Recent data released by Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that with the recent spike in new COVID cases in the general U.S. population, weekly nursing home cases are also on the rise. According to Johns Hopkins University, weekly new COVID cases in the general U.S. population rose by 330 percent to 1,043,040 new cases the week of November 15. A correlating uptick in new cases in nursing homes occurred when cases in the surrounding community started rising back in mid-September.

As experts have repeatedly noted, COVID-19 cases in a surrounding community is a top factor in outbreaks in nursing homes. University of Chicago’s Tamara Konetzka, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care, recently said, “Trying to protect nursing home residents without controlling community spread is a losing battle.” Dr. David Grabowski, Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School recently stated, “The strongest predictor of whether or not we’ll see cases in [a particular setting] is community spread.”

“Our worst fears have come true as COVID runs rampant among the general population, and long term care facilities are powerless to fully prevent it from entering due to its asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread,” stated Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of AHCA/NCAL.

“Our health care heroes are doing everything they can to prevent it from spreading further, but this level of COVID nationwide puts a serious strain on our workforce, supplies, and testing capacity,” said Parkinson. “Given the fact that our elderly population is the most vulnerable and the rising level of COVID across the U.S. shows no signs of stopping, it is paramount that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the highest priority for the vaccine distribution to long term care residents and staff.”

During the week of November 15, nearly half (49 percent) of new COVID cases in nursing homes were from Midwest states with major spikes in the community spread in the upper parts of the region. As a result, the Midwest region saw more than a 400 percent increase in weekly COVID cases in nursing homes since mid-September.

After seven weeks of declining cases in nursing homes through mid-September, nursing home cases began to increase as nearly all 50 states started to see significant rising levels of COVID cases. New weekly cases in nursing homes grew by more than 177 percent nationwide between mid-September and the week of November 15.

The report also showed COVID-related deaths in nursing homes are starting to rise, crossing more than 2,000 residents lost the week of November 15—the first time since early-June. Nursing home residents are typically older adults with multiple chronic conditions, making them most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Residents of long term care facilities account for only seven percent of the nation’s cases, yet 40 percent of its deaths. While mortality rates decreased compared to the spring due to a better understanding of the virus, better treatments, and government resources to help reduce spread, as industry leaders predicted, the rising number of new COVID cases in facilities are resulting an increasing number of deaths.

“With millions of Americans failing to heed advice from public health experts and traveling during Thanksgiving, we are extremely concerned that this situation will only get much worse,” continued Parkinson. “At this point, long term care facilities desperately need public health officials at every level to take emergency steps to get control of the community spread and ensure our facilities have the resources they need, as well as for the CDC to make our residents and caregivers the top priority in distributing the vaccine in order to save thousands of lives.”

With record new COVID cases across the country, Parkinson said Congress must also prioritize frontline health care workers and long term care residents during the lame-duck session. Last week AHCA/NCAL released a list of actions that Congress should urgently take to help nursing homes and assisted living communities respond to the uptick in new cases.

Most of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund provided by the CARES Act back in April has already been distributed and Parkinson said health care providers, including long-term care facilities, will need additional funds to continue the response to the COVID pandemic. The financial aid is crucial in helping long-term care facilities acquire personal protective equipment, conduct regular testing, and hire additional staff or reward current caregivers for their heroic efforts.

“Congress must fulfill its duty,” stated Parkinson. “Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. is repeating the same mistakes made during the initial outbreak last spring and the major spike over the summer. We need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in long term care facilities, by passing another COVID relief package during the lame duck session on Congress.”

For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus

ABOUT AHCA/NCAL

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long-term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org or www.ncal.org.

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.

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!

Covid-19 Reaches Dangerous Levels in the U.S.

By Hannah DiPilato 

As summer turns to fall, many cases of Coronavirus in The United States are beginning to spike. Fourteen states have set hospitalization records due to the virus and officials are concerned about how the virus will progress. 

According to the Covid Tracking Project, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, all reported their highest number of hospitalizations this past week. 

The director for the National Institutes for Health, Dr. Francis Collins, told National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” on Tuesday that his family would not be gathering for Thanksgiving. 

“It is just not safe to take that kind of chance with people coming from different parts of the country of uncertain status,” said Collins. “The problem with this disease is it is so easy for people to be infected and not know it, and then spread it to the ones next to them without realizing it.”

“All of this, I’m afraid, happens because we have not succeeded in this country in introducing really effective public health measures,” he continued.

Deaths in the U.S. have now reached over 220,000 and experts are concerned this number will continue to escalate. The average of new daily cases was over 58,300, the highest the average has been since August.

It seems the most spikes are happening in the “Midwest, Great Plains and parts of the West,” according to CNN. Pennsylvania is on its 15th consecutive day of reporting over 1,000 coronavirus cases. Although, New York City, which got hit harder at the beginning of the pandemic, has not seen a marked increase in deaths. 

“We are not seeing an increase in overall deaths and that’s been true over the last several weeks to several months,” said Dave Chokshi commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Human Services. “The total number of deaths per day is averaging in the single digits.” 

New York City’s rate of positive tests is 2.52% and in open schools, the rate is only 0.17%. In other states, the positive rates are not so promising. According to the Florida Department of Health, Florida has reported 3,662 new cases of the virus and 86 additional deaths on Tuesday. 

Experts are warning that things regarding coronavirus are only going to get worse, predicting a bleak fall and winter. Vaccine scientist, Peter Hotez, reported that the next few months will be the worst of the pandemic. 

“The key is now hanging on now for the next four or five months, where we’re going to enter what may be the worst period during this epidemic,” said Hotez. “As bad as it’s been, it’s about to get worse.”