How to Get Groceries Safely During a Pandemic | A Guide to Safe Shopping

With the onset of the second strain which is more contagious than the first, we must be even more vigilant when going outside, but one of the basic necessities is making sure our families have enough food each day. So if you are staying home to avoid exposure, there is always that run to the supermarket that we can’t live without.

So how do we cope. Let’s discuss the safest ways to stay healthy and safe when outside.

Knowing the Danger 

The danger resides in people, not the food. You may be worried about picking up the virus from things like the conveyor belt or carton of eggs, but the biggest risk is being indoors with people who are infected. While getting the virus from contaminated surfaces is entirely possible, the bigger risk is inhaling respiratory droplets. You should focus on staying at least six feet away from people and getting in and out of the store as fast as you possibly can. Make sure you make a list and go through the store as efficiently as possible. 

Face Covering 

It is vital to cover your face, especially the nose and mouth and is mandatory in many states. This can reduce the risk of contracting the virus by 75% if you, as well as others around you, are wearing it. If you are infected and don’t know it, it can save other people from contracting the virus too. 

Go Alone 

You should always try to go to the store alone. Bringing another person will just crowd the aisle and increase the risk of your household getting the infection too. If there are three people in your family quarantining together and all three head to the store, you have essentially tripled the risk by three. 

Sanitize Your Hands and Carts 

When you are in the store, the first thing you should do is to sanitize the handles of the basket or cart since they are high-touch zones. While many stores are doing it for customers already, it definitely will not hurt to bring your own disinfecting wipe or sanitizer. Make sure to avoid touching your face until your hands are sanitized again. 

Make sure to not use your phone while you are there either. 

Gloves Aren’t as Effective as You Think 

Gloves are not magic shields that make you invincible. A lot of people wear gloves all day long but go around doing normal activities. If you have touched a contaminated service with gloves, it is contaminated too. If you handle your phone, food or anything else with the same gloves, it will become contaminated too. Frequent washing and sanitizing your hands is a better strategy. 

Giving the Cashier Space

Grocery shopping may be stressing you out, but the workers in the store are under greater stress since they are interacting with customers indoors all day long. Make sure you stand as far away as you can, at least six feet during checkout. 

Go for No-Touch Payments 

Using no-touch options like Google Pay or Apple Pay is better. If not that, you can also use a credit card with a chip reader. You should try and avoid cash as much as you can since it can harbor plenty of microorganisms that could be harmful. If you do use your credit card or cash, you should make sure to sanitize everything after the transaction. 

Disinfecting Groceries Shouldn’t Drive You Crazy 

You may have heard of extensive routines to disinfect your groceries in many viral videos. But most experts agree that hand-washing and disinfecting each item is not really that necessary. The probability of getting infected through a contaminated surface is fairly low. The respiratory droplets have to land on the exact spot that you are touching, you need to get enough residue to start the infection and then transfer the virus to your face. 

The bottom line is that all you need to do is to follow hygiene practices such as washing your hands while unpacking, before cooking and after you are done eating. Time is also on your side. After 24 hours, depending on the surface, most virus strains are not infectious and after 72 hours it is in extremely trace amounts. So you can leave your groceries on the shelf for a couple of days and it should be fine. However, you should wipe down your countertop after you are done unpacking your items. 

If you do want to wash the groceries, you should not use disinfectant wipes or sprays. It’s better to use soap and water. Fresh produce should also be rinsed in water before consuming, but not soap! Ingesting soap is definitely a bad idea. 

Your Clothes 

If you have people who are at greater risk (such as seniors, immune-compromised or children), you should definitely shower when you come back home and change out of your clothes. Otherwise, washing your hands and changing your clothes is enough of a precaution to protect you. 

Order Online 

If you are still anxious after ensuring all of the tips above, you should consider ordering online. You can pay ahead and maintain social distancing. Just make sure to tip the delivery man generously since these workers are putting themselves at risk for you. 

Conclusion 

These are simple precautions you can take that will reduce your chances of getting infected. It certainly won’t hurt to become a germaphobe while we continue to endure and adapt to this current environment.

Going to the Hospital for Non-COVID Care and Emergencies? Keep These Things in Mind

Emergency Room
Pixaby

Are you suffering from a non-COVID medical issue and you feel you should go to the emergency room or you are planning on getting a medical procedure either in the hospital or via a doctor’s office? If yes, then you are
probably concerned about getting COVID. This is, indeed, a legitimate concern because no one wants to hold their life hostage by contracting coronavirus. And as we are all aware, hospitals are wildly exposed to the deadly coronavirus, but they are also one of the cleanest and disinfected institutions in the country – Just for that reason! (And normally, hospitals are pretty clean to begin with).

In this article, we’ll cover as to whether or not you should go to the doctor or hospital for an issue that is not coronavirus; and if yes, then what pointers you should keep in mind to stay safe and secure during your medical visit.  

ShoEmergency Room Visiting the Doctor or Hospital Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic? 

Today, hospitals and health clinics are busy testing and treating people who may have the novel coronavirus. So, what should you do if you or your loved ones are suffering from illnesses other than coronavirus? Should you take the doctor’s appointment or self-medicate?

The first thing you should do is be patient. No need to panic because it will only make things worse, and that’s probably the last thing you would want in these challenging times. You should contact your doctor first and ask them what will be most suitable in your current state. If it’s simply a general checkup or a non-emergency treatment, you shouldn’t think twice and postpone/cancel your appointments. Amid the pandemic, it’s highly recommended to avoid health care clinics and hospitals as much as possible. 

A better alternative is to check with your health practitioner if they provide telemedicine. Now what is telemedicine, you may wonder? In simpler terms, telemedicine is a form of practice that allows doctors to consult their patients via video-conferencing tools. Telemedicine is the best example for carrying out remote healthcare. With this modern healthcare service, so you can avoid non-urgent visits to the hospital and doctor’s clinics. All your checkups and non-emergency care can be performed from your home with the help of technology. However, in case you are suffering from a severe medical concern that can wait nor be taken via telemedicine, you should see if the doctor in your area is handling non-coronavirus patients.

Tips for Visiting the Doctor During Coronavirus 

 As the lockdown has eased in many countries, many medical practitioners are re-opening for non-COVID patients. If you have taken a doctor’s appointment, make sure you follow all the necessary safety precautions. Here are some essential tips on how to stay well during your doctor’s visit: 

Wear a Mask

Keep in mind that many healthcare institutions do not allow people inside if they are not wearing a mask. On the other hand, several medical clinics and hospitals provide patients with a mask at the entrance door if they are not wearing one. To be on the safe side, wear a cloth mask at the clinic. Sneeze or cough in your mask. Or, cover it with tissue paper. 

Sanitize or Wash Your Hands

While you are in the clinic/hospital, sanitize or wash your hands as many times as possible, especially if you touch any equipment or furniture there. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and use an antibacterial sanitizer. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, or lips, as these body parts can be a primary source for the infection to get into your body.  While healthcare centers accommodate hand sanitizers for the public use, it’s always best to carry your own when you visit the doctor. 

Practice Social Distancing

 When you visit a doctor’s clinic or hospital, keep your distance from other people. Many medical care places have markers on the floor to know how far apart you should stand. Ideally, you should keep a distance of about 6 feet, i.e., 2 meters away from others when waiting in a line or sitting in a visitors’ room. Avoid crowded spots at all costs. If you visit a small clinic or hospital with limited space and it’s already crowded over there, you should either wait outside unless the crowd thins out or visit another medical care center near you. 

Consider Touchless Payment Methods

When it is time to check out, choose a touchless payment option if possible. This can include a mobile payment method. Use your credit or debit card for a non-contact payment option. As soon as you are done with the payment, sanitize your hands using a sanitizer with at least 60% of alcohol. It will be wise if you consider wearing gloves, too. Once you’re out of the clinic or hospital, throw away the gloves to the nearest bin. Remember not to touch your face with gloves on! 

Conclusion

Practicing proper hygiene and safety control is the safest way to visit your doctor. But before you head out to visit your healthcare professional, call them first and see if they are considering in-person visits. If not, consider rescheduling at a more appropriate time or see if they can provide virtual healthcare assistance to you. 

 

 

8 Positive Impacts of COVID-19

Wherever there materializes a dark world, there can always be a white lining, no matter how dim the darkness is and how small the white lining may be, it will be there. The darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Despite the dreaded current state, some outcomes could have a positive influence on the planet and humanity. 

In this post, let’s explore some of the positive impacts the coronavirus has had on human lives and our environment. 

#1. New Meaning to “Genuine Relationships” 

We have all been accustomed to living a busy life. But what exactly is the definition of being busy? It was about rushing through the days and running around to meet the ends. Unfortunately, there was no end in sight. If you were one of those lucky few who would go for a vacation once or twice a year, even then, you knew pending emails were waiting for your return. 

With COVID-19, life has slowed down and the decrease in life’s pace is a positive one. While you are all still working and meeting ends, there is a new meaning to genuine relationships. Now you get time to spend with your family and your loved ones. 

Work-from-home arrangements may seem like a nuisance when you have kids and endless chores waiting for you at home, but on the flip side, you are getting all the time with your family and loved ones that you have always wished for. The proximity has given a new meaning to some precious relationships in life. 

Moreover, you have identified ways to stay connected with your loved ones. You may not fly around the world or have get-togethers over the weekends to meet your friends and family, but with more virtual options (some extra time), you can reconnect with them at the click of a button. 

#2. New Levels of Gratitude 

A positive impact of COVID-19 that is seldom highlighted is people experiencing new levels of gratitude. Gratitude is one of the core values that today’s generation seriously lacks. It is only natural to take everything for granted in a digitalized world where you have everything at your fingertips. From connections, relations, work, leisure, friends and family, we never got a chance to question all of these essentials because they were never taken away from us. 

But with the pandemic surging in most parts of the world, there was a crisis that was completely new to humans. The coronavirus pandemic has challenged human’s need as a social animal. And while it is a severe crisis involving a huge cost, it has undoubtedly played a positive role in teaching gratitude among people and raising it to a new level. 

#3. Improved Hygiene and Lifestyle

Gone are the days when practicing hygiene was a good habit. Now, it is a basic necessity for survival. From frequent hand washing and sanitizing to covering your mouth as you cough or sneeze and disinfecting surfaces, we have come a long way in maintaining a clean and hygienic lifestyle. 

Humans alive on the planet today will likely continue to practice good hygiene throughout their lives and pass it on to future generations as well; indeed, this planet may be the cleanest it has ever been! 

#4. Global Connectedness 

The entire world is devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. The rich European nations, along with the world’s developing countries are facing this crisis together. And governments globally are supporting each other in saving lives and creating opportunities for a better world. The United Nations, too, appealed for an immediate ceasefire across the globe to have the resources to fight the pandemic more effectively.

#5. Remote Working – The New Normal 

As the entire world executed COVID-19 closures, many companies switched to an entirely new working environment of remote working that gradually became the new normal. Many businesses now are fully functional, with 100% of employees working remotely. From a financial perspective, it means zero costs of physical locations, resulting in higher profits. When companies save cost, they can pass it on to the employees and other stakeholders, including their customers. 

Moreover, with remote work arrangements becoming the new normal, there is a diminishing geographical boundary. People today can get a job based on their skill and not on their physical location. If the current remote working arrangement continues post-COVID, which it is most likely to do, we can expect the trend to take globalization of labor to a whole new level. 

#6. Endless Innovation 

Quarantining may be the most depressing time of the century, but it is also the period of many technological innovations in order to compensate for the employee quarantining. Today, individuals and organizations are coming up with ideas, tips and subsequently getting creative by devising previously unknown techniques to communicate and keep sales going. Whether it is about promoting your business product or service or about connecting with your teams and loved ones, the boredom during lockdown does have its positive points.  

#7. Digitized Education 

Regarding education, the pandemic is indeed one of the bleakest events for us today. But on the brighter side, technology has played an essential role in keeping everyone connected via remote training and other post-COVID health methods to learn but stay distant. 

Physical school and university closures were a saddening event, especially for children, whose physician social interactions have come to a virtual close. How well they have adapted to remote learning is an ambivalent process. Some catch on fast while others have not grasped it well. For those that have gained from remote learning, we salute you and we can say that some positive aspects of COVID-19 education is working. 

For those that are having a difficult time not being able to socialize with their friends, as well as not being able to adapt to remote learning, we say hang in there. The vaccines are coming and this is not a permanent solution! The sheer resilience shown by students and their parents around the world is a clear sign that nothing can stop the learning process!

#8. Enhanced Environment 

COVID-19 induced lockdowns and closures have a positive impact on the environment. The global carbon emissions have decreased substantially, which has resulted in a significant improvement in air quality. The air is now cleaner and healthier than years before.

Other aspects of nature have also benefited from curtailed human activity. Reduced mining activities around the world have contributed to reduced seismic noise. With this improvement, we can now expect the seismologists to better detect the waves at a weaker frequency to improve human ability to predict earthquakes. 

Moreover, with less than optimal industrial activity, we can expect a reduction in industrial waste dumped in the water. Furthermore, limited leisure activities in and around water are also likely to contribute to an enhanced environment.  

There is also less driving and airlines have reduced their flights. All adds up to a cleaner environment.

Bottom Line 

The amazing connection that the coronavirus pandemic has created is indeed one of the most desirable aspects of the disease. And while these positive impacts come at the cost of human lives and global economic and physical depression, it is now up to us on how we want to take it forward. If we stand united, regardless of our nationalities and personal interests, there is no way humanity cannot win over this disease. And once we survive through it, a new and improved world will be waiting for us with open arms. 

 

 

The New COVID-19 Strain – What We Know So Far?

Woman with mask looking scared
Photo by a href=httpsunsplash.com@caderenfroeutm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyTextCade Renfroea on a href=httpsunsplash.comsphotosc

The U.K. has imposed fresh and more severe lockdown policies across London in response to the new strain of COVID-19 and several countries worldwide are placing a travel ban on the U.K. to curtail the new variant’s spread. Tier-four restrictions were put in place for Christmas in Scotland, Wales and England. 

What is this new COVID variant all about? 

How did it go from being extinct to becoming the most common form of the virus in the U.K.? Is it more contagious? Is it more dangerous? Will the vaccine work against this new strain? Let’s explore the answers. But before we get started, let’s first look into why the new COVID-19 strain is a cause of concern for people worldwide.  

The New COVID-19 Strain and the Concerns 

Genetic changes are a natural phenomenon that often occurs every time a genetic material is copied. When any virus replicates inside the infected cells, the new copies are genetically different from the parent virus. The same is the case with the COVID-19 virus. But why is the new variant a cause of concern for people in the U.K. and around the world?

As the virus continued to modify genetically, a particularly interesting mutation was the one that altered the spike protein. It affects how the virus penetrates inside the cells and causes infections. The new variant, known as the VUI-202012/01 (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020), has 17 mutations, which are a lot of changes for any specific microorganism. 

These changes have increased the transmission of the virus manifold and the new COVID-19 strain is around 70% more transmissible than the previous variant. The increased hospitalization in an already overworked healthcare sector is a concern not only in the U.K. but throughout the world. 

Is the New Variant Causing More Severe Infections?

Stack of drug viles
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

As of now, no evidence suggests the increased severity of infections. However, the effects are still under consideration. While there is still no evidence that the new variant can cause more severe illnesses, the high transmissibility is still a concern. Since it can infect anyone quickly, a high-risk person with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes is more likely to end up in the hospital. So the new COVID strain is a concern for the old and vulnerable high-risk category for COVID-19, as it could lead to an increasing number of people needing hospital treatment. 

Will the Vaccine Still be Effective Against the New COVID-19 Strain?

As of now, there is no evidence that the current vaccine used in the U.K. against the virus will not be effective against the new strain. So, it is reasonable to assume that, at least for now, the vaccine will still be an effective agent against the new strain. 

All three leading vaccine manufacturers have worked on an mRNA vaccine that trains the immune system to attack several different parts of the virus. Even if the spike has mutated, the vaccine can still be useful. 

However, if the virus’s genetic code continues to change at the same speed and we see a lot more mutations, then might potentially be a concern. In this case, vaccine manufacturers and governments will have to work together to tweak the drug, just like the flu vaccine, to make them more effective against the ever-mutating virus. Fortunately, modifying an existing vaccine is a lot easier than creating a new one.  

How Far Has the New COVID-19 Strain Spread?

The U.K. has taken timely and strict measures to control the spread of the new COVID-19 strain. It is believed that this new strain either emerged in the U.K. or has been imported from another country with a lower ability to observe and track coronavirus mutations. It is also thought that the highly mutated form of the virus bred somewhere inside the body of an infected patient with a compromised immune system. The patient’s immune system couldn’t fight the infection; instead served as a breeding ground for endless mutations.  

This new variant in the U.K. is heavily concentrated in London, the Southeast, and eastern England. The number of infections elsewhere in the country is still relatively stable. Data from Nextstrain suggests that some cases in Denmark and Australia have been reported as well, which came from the U.K. A few cases were also reported in the Netherlands. 

Is it Normal for Viruses to Mutate?  

As mentioned earlier, virus mutations are completely natural, similar to the mutations of the flu vaccine that needs to be modified every year. 

If you look at the coronavirus, it changed its forms several times and is no longer the same virus that was initially detected in Wuhan, China. The initial virus mutated and the D614G mutation emerged in Europe, eventually spreading across the world. Moreover, another mutation called the A222V also spread in Europe. And today, we have the new COVID-19 strain that was first detected in England. 

Scientists and researchers around the world work tirelessly to try to predict how many more mutations the world will experience for COVID-19. 

New COVID-19 Strain Protocols 

We know that the new strain is far more contagious than the original one and is the driving force behind the rapid upheaval in infections across London and other parts of the U.K. However, there is still limited evidence that the new strain can cause more severe infections and stronger symptoms. Timely efforts by the concerned authorities may only prove effective if people stick to the rules to prevent infections. 

Even with the new variant and all the concern it is causing, the best way to prevent infections is to stay with the status quo of cleanliness by frequently washing your hands, wearing a face mask and maintaining a distance of six feet from others, as well as limiting your number of physical contacts.  

What Was this Experimental Antibody Cocktail that Donald Trump Got?

Illustration of Donald Trump with a maskOn October 2nd, 2020, the White House announced that President Trump will be receiving an experimental treatment for the COVID virus after he tested positive.

Although his symptoms are relatively mild, he started a course of Remdesivir, which is an antiviral drug. In addition to Remdesivir, he was treated with an experimental drug cocktail as a precautionary measure, which ultimately resulted in the president being cured within 48 hours.

What Are Antibodies and How Do They Work?

Man getting injectionAntibodies are molecules produced by our body’s immune system to fight against infection. They are being studied to help with the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.

The vaccines essentially induce our body to produce more antibodies, which then assist in preventing the virus from infecting more cells because a high level of antibodies can neutralize the virus. However, these antibodies also differ in their type and therefore, function. Different types of antibodies bind to different parts of the human red blood cells. 

It is through these antibodies that we build immunity to viral infections. For example, the vaccine known as the flu shot was invented to build our immunity against influenza. An antibody test checks for these antibodies in your blood to see if your body has responded to this newly introduced infection. 

Different from the test for coronavirus, which looks for indications of the active virus, an antibody test shows that you may have had the virus in the past and may still be contagious. This is because your antibodies stay in your body for some time even after the infection has been taken care of.

Trump and Regeneron

The antibody cocktail that Trump has received has been made by the biotech company Regeneron, whose CEO knows Mr. Trump personally. He has received this cocktail in addition to several other drugs, including vitamin D, zinc, melatonin, daily aspirin and famotidine, the heartburn medicine, also known as “Pepcid.”

This drug remains unapproved for emergency use by the FDA. However, in cases where there is a danger that the patient might die, this drug can be administered to them, provided that other options have remained unfruitful as per the Right to Try Act.

It was Mr. Trump’s own medical staff that requested the company’s permission to use their drug and Regeneron was more than happy to oblige. Since this is not the first time this drug has been used for compassionate use cases and the decision about whether or not to give out the drug is made on a case-to-case basis, Regeneron was willing to let the President use it. 

The drug that was taken by the President initially, called Remdesivir, is also an unapproved antiviral drug that showed positive results in clinical trials concerning hospitalized patients who were at a later and therefore, more dangerous stage of the disease. However, it is not yet proven to be a safe enough drug to use for this purpose, let alone effective.

Some of the drugs from the antibody cocktail that Trump is using right now have been studied with regards to the coronavirus, but for now, none of them have been proven to be effective. But since Mr. Trump signed the “Right to Try” law in 2018, he can, as a patient, request his doctors to give him an experimental treatment from a company whose products haven’t yet been approved by the FDA. Given that this drug passed the safety trials, it was well within the patient’s rights to request the drug, especially since a law allowing such a request was available. 

Regeneron is one of two companies that have covered the most ground in trying to find a cure for the coronavirus by developing “monoclonal antibodies”. These are basically powerful antibodies that serve to fight infections and produce more antibodies in large amounts. Simply put, they make the body’s own immune system stronger so that it can fight against the viral infection and eradicate it by itself.

Regeneron said that this cocktail of two antibodies has shown results in the form of reduced recovery times and reduced signs of viral infections in the nasal region. Regeneron also reported that the patients they used the drug on were initially not producing antibodies of their own, and their symptoms would improve greatly within a week.

The dose Trump was given, however, was higher than the dose normally given to patients, twice as much to be exact.

The final result and which has been approved by the FDA is Pzifer’s vaccine that is currently being given to first responders and the elderly. This vaccine does not contain Remdesivir but does contain an assortment of other ingredients needed to fight off the disease.

 

 

 

 

Decluttering During the Pandemic

Cluttered Room
Photo by Humairah L. on Unsplash

Aside from the disruptions the coronavirus has caused, it has given people a lot of free time since many of us are finding ourselves quarantining or just working from home.

Whether that’s a good thing or not is debatable because for many, idle time means an onslaught of unpleasant things, such as anxiety about the future.

Additionally, some are finding that being ‘cooped up’ in the house is causing unexpected issues with relationships, not just husbands and wives, but whole families. Simply put, having so much free time may not be the best thing for a lot of people.

Sadly, there isn’t anything anyone can do about the many available hours the pandemic has granted our planet and the results that this pandemic has perpetuated upon our social lifestyles is something that is going to be researched for many years to come. 

So, what can we do about it? Staying positive is the number one priority and by utilizing a positive attitude, we can find ways to take advantage of this free time to our benefit. This situation can be analogous to our “Thinking Out of the Box” techniques which would definitely apply here whether you are in a state of depression or not. But there are other methods of keeping busy and can even be added to your short-term bucket list of accomplishments.

If this year has taught us anything, it’s how unpredictable life can be and how meaningless material things are. If you believe that, consider getting rid of all nonessential items in your home and Marie-Kondo-ing your way out of materialism.

Not sure where to start? Don’t fret because we have got you; here are all the essential tips on decluttering your home during the pandemic.

Don’t Think of it as “Getting Rid of Stuff”

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking process that reduces you into a sweating mess for fear of losing items you love. If you step into it thinking that you have to extricate things you once loved from your life, you will be anxious throughout the process and not enjoy the outcome.

You are supposed to feel light and free after going on a decluttering rampage, and if that’s not how you think, then perhaps you don’t have your mind in the right place. To truly benefit from eliminating all the unnecessary items in your house, you should focus on making the right choices instead of the part where you get rid of things. 

For instance, pick up an item and ask yourself, “Will it make me happy?” “Will its absence affect me?”

Another way to go about making the right decision could be asking yourself if you love the item in question. For example, you look at a present you got a few years ago and you can’t decide whether you want to keep it or toss it. To arrive at a conclusion, ask yourself, do I like it? The first answer you hear your mind say will tell you what you need to do.

Give Away Items You Have Many of

There is an endless list of material things that we excessively buy even though we don’t need them, such as shoes or bags or watches, etc. Some people can be passionate watch collectors, while others can be obsessed with buying Air Jordans. In other words, everyone has one particular good that they are guilty of over-buying.

All those products that you have a bunch of, you should give away some of the models. Tossing out prototypes of the same item might be hard for you, but it will be a relatively easier decision because you’ll instantly know which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to throw out.

To get over the initial nerves of getting rid of something you so lovingly bought, think of the process as freeing yourself from unnecessary possessions. This way, you will have a different direction to think in and who knows, it just might work?

Have an Ordered Disorder

Decluttering doesn’t always have to mean you should throw away stuff. You can categorize items and stow them out in an organized way without much hassle.

  • To do that, all you need to do is label the things you wish to sort. Make two piles; keep it and toss it.
  • After you have the two piles ready, begin organizing the items you have categorized as ‘keep it.’
  • Put them in separate boxes based on their urgency of use. Keep the things you will not be needing anytime soon in one container and put it in the garage or any other storage place. For all the remaining items, use organizers to keep them sorted and in reach at all times. 

Focus on Rooms That are the Most Crammed Up 

Storage rooms, garages and attics are often the most stuffed rooms in a home because most homeowners dump all the ‘not-in-use’ items without any system in place.

Use your available time to sort out the messiest rooms. Don’t just cram things from all over the house in your garage or attic; instead, work out a system. Label all the boxes, keep them in neat piles and categorize them in whichever way you like. You can use colors or the utilization of things to organize the stacks of storage containers.

Decide What You Want to Do

Just because you don’t want to use something doesn’t mean no one else can. Many times, things we find useless serve others for many years. So, instead of throwing away items you don’t want to use any longer, donate them or sell them to make a profit.

The internet is bursting with buyers looking for stuff at reasonable prices. Avail the opportunity and put up your belongings for sale on social media or websites to earn a little. And if you are feeling generous, consider donating the thing you have decided to get rid of.

To donate stuff, try the local goodwill center or Salvation Army donation center. If those are closed, then look up online sites to give away your things. Online portals such as Facebook Marketplace and the Nextdoor app allow sellers to list items they wish to put up on the market for interested parties to see and contact. 

And thanks to the e-payment system, you don’t even have to worry about receiving payment. Set up a PayPal account or register with Venmo to receive or make payments without fear of fraud.

Take a Breather and Declutter Your Life

Your overthinking or constant worrying isn’t going to change the fact that the world is in the middle of a pandemic. So why exhaust yourself emotionally and mentally over something that’s so completely beyond your control? Instead of getting worked up about the unprecedented circumstances, do something productive. Getting rid of unnecessary possessions is one way of doing it.

 

Battling Eating Disorders During the COVID Pandemic

Man eating a sandwichHaving an eating disorder is like carrying the devil on your shoulder, who forces you to think about food around-the-clock and then guilt-trips you into feeling awful when you grab a bite to eat. People living with eating disorders develop an unhealthy relationship with food; they get obsessed and consequently feel rattled whenever there is food readily available. 

So, for most people in this category, the best escape becomes avoidance. They start avoiding food and discussions about food, but ironically they can only think about only one thing – food. This ultimately leads to a vicious cycle of starvation and binge eating.

In order to regain control over their thought process, people with an ED distract themselves and try to stay away from stressful situations that can trigger their disordered eating behavior. Doing that is not easy as it sounds, but during a pandemic, staying on track in your fight against ED becomes exceptionally challenging. And that’s precisely what these patients have been experiencing ever since COVID-19 took over our lives.

The Pandemic, the Resulting Stress and Disordered Eating

The coronavirus outbreak has been exceedingly stressful and continues to be even more distressing due to the overriding uncertainty regarding the future. Nobody knows when the pandemic will end, if at all, and how long till a cure is concocted (see latest vaccine news here), and this suspense has almost everyone agitated.

But for people with mental health disorders, all this suspenseful stress has led to much graver consequences, such as aggravated symptoms since there are food scarcity scares, panic buying and the quarantine 15. Let’s go over some of the factors that are contributing to exacerbated ED symptoms.  

Contributors of Worsened ED Symptoms in the Pandemic 

The Corona-Anxiety

For some, corona-anxiety is the restlessness that comes from not knowing what the future holds coupled with the fear of getting the virus; for others, it’s a combination of general anxiety and individual struggles, such as increased disordered eating behavior.

Food Scarcity Scares and Panic Buying

Woman purchasing food during the COVID pandemic
Photo: CC-Pexels

Ever since the pandemic started, there have been speculations about a possible food shortage and subsequently prompted people to panic-buy and stockpiling groceries. The ever-running cycle of hoarding has been nothing but tough for people with Eating Disorders.

They are forced to think about a time without eatables, so they panic by purchasing food but then when they are in the supermarket, it triggers unhealthy binge-eating patterns.  

The Pandemic Fifteen

Staying home most of the time means increased exposure to social media and its triggering content, making life for people with eating disorders a living hell. And the concept of pandemic fifteen is a result of the harmful, stereotypical body-shaming ideas that the media puts out.

Essentially, it’s a rather bleak take on “freshman fifteen,” which refers to the weight (15 lbs.) a freshman in college puts on during their first year. People are now using that term with regard to the pandemic by calling it the pandemic fifteen or quarantine 15, referring to the most likely chance of weight gain during this global crisis.  

Social Distancing and Restrictions

For many ED patients, social restrictions have added fuel to the fire as they cannot have regular sessions with their therapist or meet with friends and family for support. The lack of social interaction means people with eating disorders are left alone with their thoughts that can overwhelm them and an abundance of food in the pantry, setting the perfect storm for eating disorders to go rampant. 

If you struggle with disordered eating, you should consider the following tips to take control back from your illness.

How to Cope with Eating Disorders during the Pandemic?

Sandwich with measuring tape around it
Losing weight with the Paleo diet. Photo: CC Pixaby

Recovery can be different for different people. For some, not eating another piece of chocolate during a binge-eating session may be a step towards recovery, while for others, it could be not working out when all they want to do is over exercise.

 So while everyone has their individual battles to fight, some universal measures can help people with EDs stay in control of their illness during the pandemic.

Seek Help

Seeking professional help may seem like a tall order due to all the restrictions in place, but you can do that virtually. Go online, and look up counselors and experts who can help you stay on the path to recovery.

Couple talking to a medical professional
Photo: Unsplash-080620-tim-gouw-bwki71ap-y8

You can (and should) ask your present therapist (if you have one) if they can connect with you through a video calling software so that you can keep up with your sessions. You should also inquire if there’s an expert close to your area who would give in-person private sessions.

Regardless of which route you choose to get help for your eating disorder, you must look for resources to guide you through this difficult time.

Chalk Out an Eating Routine

To avoid binge eating and then compensating for that, you should consider setting up a daily eating routine. But that doesn’t mean you start practicing restrictive dieting; that’s not what we meant.

When we say an eating routine, we mean to set a time to have your meals every day so that you don’t go without eating for long durations and end up overstuffing. But don’t get too strict with the regime. If some days you eat out of your scheduler, don’t beat yourself up or resort to compensatory measures such as starving the next day or over-exercising.

Join an Online Support Group

Living in the era of technology has its perks, and the biggest of them is being able to connect with people online. Use the internet to get in touch with other ED patients so that you have people to share your struggles with.

Joining a digital ED community will also help you stay on track with your recovery and reduce the chance of relapse.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has an extensive array of online forumsvirtual support groupsonline peer communities, recovery mentors, and live meal support to help ED patients for free or at a low cost. Engage with any of the NEDA platforms to keep your disordered eating patterns in check.

Ending Note

We understand that it’s easier said than done, but try to love yourself and look at food as fuel for the body and not a reward or punishment. What you see on social media is not necessarily true, so stop comparing yourself with others.

Remember that you are living through a pandemic. Focus on being alive and happy instead of how you should look because that’s the societal standard of beauty.

Woman jumping with happieness
Photo: CC Pxhere

 

COVID-19 Vaccine and the Concerns vs New Optimistic Results

Overview

Image of doctor holding globe with injection needlePharmaceutical companies around the world are working towards the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. 

So far, there are more than 150 vaccines in development worldwide, and some are expected to give groundbreaking results in a few weeks with several efforts nearing their final stages. 

The World Health Organization is collaborating on an international level to ensure the delivery of around two billion doses by the end of 2021. However, there are speculations at several levels that need to be addressed. 

Why is There Concern Over COVID-19 Vaccine Development?

Woman being injected with COVID vaccine

While the COVID-19 vaccine development is a significant milestone we all are looking forward to, there is a concern among some communities regarding the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine. 

According to the poll results on August 7, 2020, around 30% of Americans are not likely to take up the vaccine even if it is available without a charge. Moreover, almost 50% of the participants would not take up a vaccine developed outside the U.S; however, among medical professionals, in a recent study, over 80% of physicians polled said they would take the vaccine when it is available.

Here are some genuine reasons why an average American is concerned about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccine Development is a Time-Taking Process

Typically, vaccine development is a long process. On average, it takes around 10-15 years to come up with one to protect against a specific viral disease. If you look at the history, the fastest-ever vaccine developed was the vaccine for mumps and the process took four years. 

When you talk about the vaccine development process, it includes several trials (typically three), which can take up a long time. Initially, the vaccine is tested on a small group to ensure whether it triggers the immune system response. In the next stage, people infected by the disease are added to the pool and the vaccine is administered to see how their bodies react to the dosage. 

Vaccine Research lab
Photo by Trnava University on Unsplash

Finally, there is mass-testing among people of different ethnicities, ages and varying underlying health conditions. And even once the vaccine is approved, there are significant roadblocks that delay the vaccine’s production, distribution, and administration.

With all this information, the general population is concerned about how the vaccine for COVID-19 has already surpassed the initial few stages, given that the outbreak of pandemic is just a few months old.

With that said however, President Trump has initiated Operation Warp Speed which is aimed at cutting through the red tape and testing of the vaccine process without diluting the integrity of the vaccine formula. And great hope is on the way with Pfizer, Mondera and AstraZeneca showing strong promise of a viable antidote. Moreover, they say that their vaccines show a 95% – 100% effective.

Vaccine Preparations

In the first week of September, all hospitals around the country have been notified by the CDC to prepare for the potential delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine in the next two months. 

Given the length of the vaccine development process and how quickly it will be accessible to the general public is another reason why there is a safety concern among the general population.

Lack of Transparency 

Some pharmaceutical companies are not releasing information as quickly as they could. For example, the Oxford vaccine trials in the U.K. have been paused due to an adverse reaction in one of the participants. However, the U.K. authorities allowed the trials to resume. With limited information on why the trials were first halted and then resumed, it has raised speculation in people worldwide. 

The general public needs information. While information about the development process of all the potential vaccines can be overwhelming, people at least deserve to know about the progress details of some of the potentially high-impact vaccines, but the pharmaceutical companies previously mentioned are doing just that.

Final Words 

The COVID-19 vaccine is underway and you can soon expect an announcement from the CDC and FDA regarding its launch. While health officials claim that the vaccine will be critical in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and will soon allow life to return back to normal, its effectiveness is still a concern for some. Moreover, the general population’s reluctance is a more pressing issue that needs to be addressed before the launch of the vaccine. Only when an ordinary citizen is willing to get immunized, the vaccine’s effectiveness can be proved, and we can hope that life would return to normal.

It is our opinion that if 80% of physicians say that they will take the vaccine, that is a worthwhile consideration for non-medical individuals to take into account.

Dining Out: A Major Contributor in COVID-19 Transmission

Man with mask eatingOh how we all love to eat! And going out to our favorite restaurants makes it all the more fun, but now we have COVID and this is one situation that we cannot turn our heads and pretend that it is not there.

This omnipresent virus has turned the world upside down and by the looks of it, things are not going to change anytime soon. The rapid spread of the coronavirus continues to steadily infect people in nations worldwide. But between the intractable virus and healthcare professionals struggling to concoct an antidote, the public is desperately looking for some solace.

And what better way to gain some well-deserved comfort than gorging on delicious food? Owing to the widespread uncertainty and suffocating restrictions due to the pandemic, people are running out of patience and doing things they shouldn’t be, such as dining out any chance they get.

Eating at Bars and Restaurants: A Big No-No

Who knew that the seemingly unimportant saliva would become such a threat to the simple pleasure of eating out? But sadly, that’s what the world has come to because now the dribble that is ever ready to drizzle down at first sight of appetizing food can take lives.

And whether you like it or not, restaurants and bars are its main attacking arenas, which is why dining out is extremely dangerous these days.

A study conducted in September revealed that people who tested positive for the coronavirus are twice more likely to have eaten at a restaurant than those who tested negative. This means that no matter how quickly you devour a chocolate pie at a swanky café or gobble down the ever-popular succulent hamburger at your favorite fast food joint, you are equally at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

Mask or No Mask: The Threat Remains

Illustration of people wearing masks for the United NationsThe unfortunate circumstance about eating is that it requires you to open your mouth, which means you will be exposed to respiratory drops one way or another.

So even if you are one of those honorable people who always abide by COVID policy, you will have to compromise on your principles and go against the mandated restrictions when having a meal. Unless you find a way to consume food without removing your facemask, you will increase the odds of acquiring the virus, as well as endangering others by eating outside of your home.

According to the Center for Disease Control, eating at restaurants is a chief risk factor in spreading the SARS-Cov-2. Just thirty minutes of exposure to someone carrying the virus can leave you infected. Moreover, sharing dips and dishes is also a veritable source of COVID-19 transmission. You never know if a sauce you are sharing with someone carries droplets from an infected person’s mouth, which can, in turn, give you the infection.

And since not all COVID patients exhibit symptoms, someone can transmit the virus without ever knowing that they had the disease in the first place (asymptomatic). Simply put, there is no way you can dodge the coronavirus bullet at an indoor eating place.

Can You Wheedle Your Way Into the Dining Out Fun?

The coronavirus pandemic has been going on for quite a while now, prompting restaurant and bar owners to shut down business every few weeks during the past year to control the disease’s transmission. But without an end in sight, bistro owners are forced to look into ways to keep the business up and running despite the health threat. And that is why many restaurateurs are employing creative techniques to stay afloat.

Long story short, you might be able to enjoy dining out after all, but not without a slew of restrictions.

Taking Inspiration from the Italians

Just as Italy was beginning to recover from the coronavirus’s first wave, a second tide washed over the country. Businesses were only starting to open up again, but as the biting winter winds rolled around, people began falling sick again.

A second wave of the pandemic meant lockdowns in cities and restrictions on social gatherings. In the wake of which, restaurant owners had to find a way to keep their diners in business without taking any drastic measures such as doubling their prices. And that is what the owners of VagInUfezzi Bologna did.

To survive the resurgence of the coronavirus, Antonella De Sanctis and her husband, MircoCarati decided to follow the post-war Bolognese osterie, a tempo’s lead to save VagInUfezzi Bologna from a loss. Now, the diners are coming to satiate their hunger by paying by the hour instead of the dishes being served. So the less time someone spends inside the restaurant, the less they pay.

A table at VagInUfezzi Bologna costs $21.00 per person for one hour and $31.44 for two hours, excluding wine, liqueurs and coffee. And adhering to the social distancing rules, the restaurant has gone from catering to 25-30 people at a time to just 10-15.

Antonella and Micro didn’t want to suddenly shoot up the prices of their dishes because they thought that would be unfair on the eaters. Hence, they chose to charge people by the hour; this way, visitors get to enjoy the experience of dining out while minimizing the risk of COVID transmission.

In order to pay as little as possible, diners eat quickly and vacate the tables, which in turn reduces the duration of exposure. In short, the less time spent at the bistro equals less cost and minimal chances of contracting the coronavirus.

However, putting a time constraint on diners eating out doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of catching the virus, but that seems to be the only viable option to save eatery businesses. 

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel?

According to the guidelines published by the CDC, it’s safer to stick to pick-ups, drive-throughs and delivery services to satisfy your taste buds during the pandemic. And if you still choose to go to a restaurant to eat, be sure you wear a mask at all times, maintain a six-foot distance from fellow diners and not touch anything unnecessarily. You should also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on you and avoid sharing dips, sauces, or any food.

Additionally, the vaccine is coming and will be here hopefully by the end of the year, but until then, follow all COVID policies and work out a plan for eating out so you can minimize getting infected while also helping to keep restaurants financially alive.  

 

Role of Nurses in the Healthcare Environment

Navy nurses attending class circa 1940
Navy nurses attending class circa 1940

The profession of nursing is often looked down upon on the pretext that it has no major role to play in medical healthcare other than checking blood pressure and pulse, administering the medicine prescribed by the doctors and other tasks of the sort.  Looking at the hefty degrees and expansive experiences of the doctors, quite a few people assume that doctors are all that the medical arena comprises of. This notion cannot be further from the truth and during this time of the COVID epidemic, it is indeed unfortunate for people to have this false notion. It plays right into the idea that in order to be important, you have to be ‘out there’ and ‘in-your-face’.

The sight of a doctor clad in his or her radiant white coat or surgery scrub might be impressively daunting to see, but what most ignore are the nurses not only following the doctors but their swift train of commands as well. And it’s anything but easy to do. The medical science and healthcare advancements as we see them today, owe a lot to the role that nurses have been playing all along.

Let’s look at the training a person has to go through before becoming a nurse.

Nurse Training

Generally, to become a nurse, you must have at the very least achieved a two-year degree in nursing, which includes medical classes same as a freshman and sophomore doctor would take, but a four-year college degree would be preferred due to the competition a person might be subjected to when applying for the position.

A two-year degree would give you the title of an LPN – Licensed Practical Nurse. A four-year graduate would make you an NPN – Licensed Registered Nurse.

If you want to pursue a higher level of nursing, you can become nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists or nurse midwives, which requires a master’s degree. Additionally, nurse anesthetists are also required to complete 800 hours of clinical work after they have graduated with their MS.

After all that, you need to take the NCLEX exam, AKA National Council Licensure Examination, which is a required test that every prospective nurse needs to take which will determine if you are ready to become licensed as a nurse.

Now, let’s look into a few of the important roles that nurses play in facilitating effective health care:

Handling Crucial First Aid

Admit it or not, first aid is the most crucial part of the treatment, more so in emergency cases. Nurses are almost always responsible for looking into cases requiring immediate help. Whether or not a patient is able to survive until the doctor takes over the case is entirely dependent on the efficacy of the first aid and the usage of just the right life-saving techniques. Having been trained in such preliminary crucial procedures, nurses are at the heart of first aid administering and keeping the patient stable for further treatment.

Being the Source of Information to Patients

Doctors don’t always have the time to address each and every concern of the patients in detail by explaining to them about their disease/illness; which is quite understandable considering how such a large number of cases they have to tend to. As such, it is the nurses whose patients turn to when they have important questions to ask. Especially the patients who are admitted in the hospitals for days on end, this role of nurses becomes all the more important. From medicines to all sorts of strange discomforts or pains a patient might feel, it is the nurse who is a single bell away and who looks into what’s bothering the patient.

The Bridge Between Patient and Doctor

This is the most important role that a nurse plays. Doctors are mostly dependent on the report of the preliminary assessment done by the nurses for further treatment. The most trivial of things also matter when it comes to healthcare. As such, it is the nurses who facilitate this by collecting all that information and effectively passing it on to the doctor.

Also, any complaints that a patient might have are directly addressed to the nurses since doctors are not available all the time. Even if they are, the protocol calls for nurses to be at the interface between doctor and patient. In the simplest of terms, nurses facilitate effective healthcare by significantly sharing the burden with the doctors so they can better do their job.

If this is not enough to convince one of the importance of nursing, think about what would happen if they didn’t exist?