Posts tagged with "US Center for Disease Control"

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.

United States Suicide Crisis

The United States is a nation currently plagued by many crises. We are facing a public health, economic, and civil rights crisis all at the same time. The coronavirus pandemic alone is changing almost every facet of life for hundreds of millions of Americans. Cases of COVID19 are rising again with fear and anxiety close behind.

Dr. Carlin Barnes and Dr. Marketa Wills – two Harvard-trained psychiatrists and co-founders of Healthy Mind MDs, LLC – a wellness enterprise whose sole mission is to improve the emotional and mental well-being of all Americans. They believe this increased rate of clinical anxiety and depression can lead to another major crisis – suicide. Mental health professionals are concerned that suicide rates will greatly increase over the next few months related to Americans deal with what is happening around them. 

Suicide is not a new national problem. Research has established a strong link between economic upheaval and suicide and substance us In fact, it is a public health crisis that has plagued America for quite some time. Suicide rates among adults in the U.S. were on the rise before this pandemic. In 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide deaths among those age 1 to 64 had increased to 35% in less than two decades. It is evident by our nation’s response, COVID-19 caught us off guard. A study of the Great Recession that began in late 2007 found that every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, there was about a 1.6 percent increase in the suicide rate.

Drs. Barnes and Wills believe it is important that we, individually and collectively, ring the alarm regarding the possibilities of COVID-19 related suicide. They are available to talk about the signs of a loved one who may be contemplating suicide and how to combat it. Signs include:

• Extreme withdrawal from all family and friends from someone who had previously been outgoing and friendly

• Increased use of alcohol and drugs

• Stating that life is not worth living

• Starting to get possessions and final paperwork in order

• Erratic behaviors,  mood swings, increased agitation/aggression/irritability

• Severe changes in sleep (increased sleep or decreased sleep) and appetite (increased appetite or decreased appetite

Given this confluence of stressors, the mental health of many Americans is becoming a major concern as we adapt to absorb the psychologic impact of all these major events. Data shows that one third of U.S  adults have reported symptoms of clinical anxiety and depression related to this public health crisis.

Barnes, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist and behavioral health medical director at a Fortune 500 managed care company. For the past eighteen years, she has practiced child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry—she has a thriving, diverse, boutique private practice with patient clientele ranging from working adults to urban children and  adolescents. She trained in the specialty of psychiatry at programs  affiliated with both Harvard University and Emory University Schools Medicine and attended Texas A&M University College of Medicine, where she received a Doctor of Medicine degree. Dr. Barnes is a member of several professional organizations including the National Medical Association, the Black Psychiatrists of America, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She is originally from Hillside, New Jersey, and currently resides in Houston, Texas, where she lives with her son.

Marketa Wills, MD, is a board-certified psychiatrist with a master’s in business administration from the Wharton School of Business and serves as a physician executive at a Fortune 500 health insurance company. She has cared for severely mentally ill patients in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room clinical settings. As treatment team leader and medical director, she effectively collaborated with other mental professionals to ensure that patients with a variety of ailments—ranging from schizophrenia to postpartum depression to substance abuse—were able to live as productively as possible. Dr.Wills earned her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed a residency in adult psychiatry at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital program. In her last year of the program, she served as chief resident. She has received numerous accolades and awards highlighting her clinical and community achievements. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, she currently resides in sunny Tampa, Florida.

The doctors have shared their expertise on numerous news outlets as well as CBS News, NBC Syndication and CBS Radio.
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Drs. Barnes and Wills would be ideal experts to talk about mental health and suicide issues.