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Tag Archives: Medical

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Will rapid COVID-19 tests help K-12 schools?

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Shortly before he was diagnosed with COVID-19, President Trump announced that the federal government would begin distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests. The goal is to use them to urge faster reopening of K-12 schools. As virus cases continue to pile up, some school districts have announced staggered and hybrid learning modules for fall 2020 and beyond.

About Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW tests

The tests are a part of the previously announced supply of 150 million ordered from Abbott Laboratories. A total of 100 million tests will be distributed to the states, according to their population. While ostensibly they are to be used as governors see fit, the Trump administration is emphasizing testing and prioritizing K-12 schools.

The reason, according to the administration, is simple. They feel regularizing learning is important to the physical, social and emotional development of students.

The Abbott tests, the size of a credit card, deliver results in about 15 minutes without the need for special computer equipment. They not only deliver rapid results but are also low-cost and come in an easy-to-use format. They cost about $5 to $6 apiece, compared to the traditional swab, which is $100 a piece.

Parents and schools will immediately know whether an asymptomatic child has COVID-19. Some states could opt for baseline surveillance and test a certain proportion of students per week or month.

Will the tests help?

Abbott’s tests will help meet the testing backlog for COVID-19, which has led to repeated delays in reporting results in the past months. High-grade medical laboratories are more accurate, but they take several days to process. Abbott reported positive cases may still have to be sent to higher-grade labs for confirmation, but the overall backlog could reduce.

There is one major cause of worry, though. State officials feel that many tests are going unreported because the tests are often performed outside the healthcare system. It could skew the government data needed to track the virus and lead to undercounts of new cases.

According to a report by the nonprofit Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. will need roughly 200 million tests per month to reopen schools safely. Right now, we are averaging fewer than 30 million tests per month.

How are states responding?

Oklahoma announced that it had received about 77,000 rapid point-of-care COVID-19 tests. The Oklahoma State Department of Health will prioritize the distribution of these Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW tests and equipment to K-12 schools. Next, they are deploying them to health care workers and vulnerable populations.

Arizona, which will get more than 2 million rapid COVID-19 tests from the federal government, announced that it, too, will prioritize K-12 schools. County health experts and local authorities will decide which schools and facilities will get the tests. Next, they will focus on vulnerable populations, including those with developmental disabilities and foster care.

Tennessee’s governor echoed the above statements and said that its first 133,000 of the projected 2 million tests would be deployed to reopen public K-12 schools across the state. The rapid point-of-care coronavirus test kits will also help the state in its continued approach to protect the elderly in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Washington state and Oregon are ready to deploy the rapid tests as well. The former expects to receive 2.3 million of the rapid tests by the end of the year. Oregon will receive 60,000 to 80,000 new rapid Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests per week through the end of the year. The increased testing capacity will help diagnose and treat more people quickly, isolate and quarantine people, helping contain the virus. The more it is contained, the easier it will be to reopen schools and help life get back to normal.

While there are concerns about the authenticity of reporting and meeting backlog effectively, state leaders and public health officials hope that the rapid tests will make them more agile in making public health decisions related to business operations and school reopening. The administration hopes that the tests will help schools to stay open, and parents return to work.

With the renewed panic of the second wave of COVID-19, the tests will help diagnose people fast. Some states are already reporting a spike, provoking fears in the populace.

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Algorithm could help keep consumers safe from illegal online pharmacies

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It might be tempting to purchase your medicines from an online pharmacy to save money, but beware. Some online pharmacies are selling ineffective and even dangerous products.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) reported this year that it identified dozens of illicit online pharmacies (IOPs) selling drugs marketed as treatments for COVID-19, drugs that would normally require a prescription.

“Rogue internet pharmacy networks are run by criminal opportunists, and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has provided the perfect opportunity for illegal online drug sellers to prey on fearful consumers,” the NABP says in its “Rogue Rx Activity Report.”

But now, researchers at Penn State University have developed an algorithm that may be able to identify which online pharmacies are legitimate and which ones are not. They wrote about their findings in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

IOPs are a serious problem, says Soundar Kumara, Ph.D., the Allen E. Pearce and Allen M. Pearce Professor of Industrial Engineering. Illegal pharmacies can, for example, sell unwitting customers drugs mixed with ineffective ingredients like corn starch.

“If they’re adulterated,” says Kumara, “you cannot get the right dosage. So the effectiveness of the drug could be wrong, and, people could die.”

“In addition, some expensive drugs can be counterfeited,” he says. “So, for example, if someone wants to buy a drug for an immune-compromised disease that costs $3,000, and they go online and the online pharmacy says, ‘We can give you the drug for $1,000,’ that person may feel that it’s great and get it, but it might not have the potency that is needed.”

Moreover, some IOPs sell highly addictive drugs such as oxycodone and other opioids without the required prescription from a physician, Kumara says.

“So, there are so many problems associated with having IOPs,” he says.

In a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September, the agency notified a number of rogue online pharmacies that they were in violation of the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by:

“Offering for sale unapproved prescription drugs of unknown origin, safety, and effectiveness; offering prescription drugs without a prescription; offering prescription drugs without adequate directions for safe use; and offering prescription drugs without FDA-required warnings to consumers about the serious health risks associated with the prescription drug.”

In its BeSafeRx campaign, the FDA says, “A safe, legal internet pharmacy always requires a doctor’s prescription, has a physical address and phone number in the United States, is licensed by the state where they are doing business and has a state-licensed pharmacist on staff to answer questions by the patient.”

But catching and stopping IOPs is difficult for several reasons, says Hui Zhao, Ph.D., a Penn State associate professor of supply chain and information systems and the Charles and Lilian Binder Faculty Fellow in the Smeal College of Business.

“Nobody really knows how many are out there,” she says. “But there are at least 30,000 to 35,000.”

“But we don’t really know because of the dynamic nature of online pharmacies,” she says. “Online markets come and go easily. They disappear here and pop us somewhere else with a different URL.”

So Kumara, Zhao and Sowmyasri Muthupandi, a former research assistant, developed an algorithm to distinguish IOPs from the legal online pharmacies.

Using a dataset of 763 online pharmacy websites, the researchers examined web traffic and engagement data to observe the different ways consumers find and engaged with the online pharmacies. In particular, they focused on referral links between websites.

If customers consistently come upon an online pharmacy through referral links that regularly link to illicit pharmacies, chances are the online pharmacy is also illicit, Zhao says.

“On the other hand,” says Zhao, “if I find that website X has been referenced by a site that mostly refers to the legal ones, then I would say there’s a higher likelihood that X is a legal one.”

“Think about your social network,” she says. “If a person hangs out with bad guys, then likely, if he hangs out with another person, that person likely belongs to this similar group.”

Their prediction models achieved an accuracy rate of more than 95%in identifying IOPs, she says. The prediction models could have many applications, Kumara and Zhao say.

In their journal article, they write that search engines, online retailers as well as credit card and other payment companies could someday use the models to either filter out IOPs or consider the status of an online pharmacy when ranking search results.

The tool could also be used to fashion a warning system that could notify consumers as to which pharmacies are legal and which ones are not, they say.

“Policy makers, government agencies, patient advocacy groups and drug manufacturers may also use such a system to identify, monitor, curb IOPs, and educate consumers.”

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Improving senior care by mimicking natural light cycles with LED technology

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Numerous studies have identified the need for better lighting conditions in senior care facilities. Residents often have too little exposure to natural light during the day and are subjected to leaks from artificial lighting during the night. This can lead to a range of health problems, from erratic sleep patterns to impaired cognition to listlessness and depression.

Recent developments in LED technology may provide a solution by creating interior lighting conditions that change throughout the day and night, mimicking the natural light cycle to which the body is attuned.

Results of studies on sleep quality and lighting examined as part of a comprehensive literature review of research on older adults’ visual and nonvisual performance conducted by a team from the University of Florida, Gainesville (including Nam-Kyu Park with the Department of Interior Design) indicate that “daylight exposure benefits older adults’ sleep quality, and nighttime/evening lighting exposure has a negative impact on older adults’ sleep quality.”

Other studies have shown that lighting levels affect the production of melatonin that helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, which, in turn, affect sleep patterns. As we age, changes occur which alter normal circadian rhythms, as can conditions such as Alzheimer’s, making this a critical issue in senior care.

The authors of a paper advocating for human-centric lighting design, recently published in the journal Lighting Research and Technology, point out that while lighting for visibility, visual comfort and visual amenity is important, equally important is recognizing how light and lighting influence non-visual responses in humans. “Circadian, neuroendocrine and neurobehavioural responses are important for human health and should be considered on-par with visual responses,” they state. “This awareness leads toward lighting design solutions with increased contrast between day and night.”

Previous attempts to simulate the quality and level of natural light in senior care have produced mixed results because the technology was not adequate or relied on manual controls. The introduction of LED technology has changed that. In 2013, faculty members from the College of Engineering at Drexel University presented a paper in which they announced that they were developing an “energy-conserving diurnal daylight-matching LED luminaire to improve health outcomes for the elderly at St. Francis Country House near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report of a project it funded under its GATEWAY program, Tuning the Light in Senior Care, which summarizes the results of a trial installation of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting systems in several spaces within the ACC Care Center in Sacramento, California. The study used solid-state LED technology to “tune” the lighting to different levels at different times of the day in order to mimic natural light cycles.

In some areas, the lighting was controlled manually by the staff. The corridor lighting was programmed to change automatically but could be overridden with a manual control. Among the health benefits observed by the staff that may have been attributable to the change in lighting were a 41% reduction in yelling, agitation and crying for three residents, improved sleep without interruption, and reduction in the use of sleep and psychotropic medications.

More recently, a team led by researchers from the Brown University School of Public Health’s Center for Long-Term Care Quality & Innovation (and including Eunice Noelle-Wagner, president, Center of Design for an Aging Society) conducted an additional research study at the ACC Care Center that expanded the scope and employed the use of automated tuned lighting to change color and intensity settings automatically during the course of the day and night.

At the end of the two-month intervention, they found that the residents in those areas with autotuned lighting experienced half as many nighttime sleep disturbances as did the control group that were exposed to static lighting conditions. Unlike the previous study, they did not observe significant differences in agitate behaviors.

While more research is needed, the results of these studies is promising. The authors of the literature review cited above caution that some studies to date point to “other related physical environment factors, such as noise, that may interact or coincide with lighting and affect sleep quality.” Even so, advances in lighting technology appear to open new avenues for addressing a major issue in the design of interior environments in senior care facilities.

As the authors of the paper on human-centric lighting design state in their conclusion, “The parties responsible for addressing non-visual responses to light and lighting are evolving. Architects, lighting professionals, lighting equipment manufacturers, medical professionals, building owners and individuals all have a stake.” That includes interior designers as well.

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Why post-COVID-19 U.S. education will be even less like it used to be than you think

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When COVID-19 first became a national conversation topic, sometime this past March, a flurry of articles in major U.S. publications followed proposing what, post-COVID-19, would remain the same and what would be different. Since then, fewer articles have appeared with each succeeding month.

There seems to be an assumption that these issues have largely been resolved, that while we may not like every change, we at least have a pretty good idea of what post-COVID U.S. education will look like. A previous experience with the interaction of a school system and a disaster this century, Hurricane Katrina, should warn us that we’re probably underestimating how extensive and profound those changes are likely to be.

The Neglected Lesson of Katrina

In a prescient article written back in April, Brookings fellow Douglas N. Harris reminds us that after Katrina education in New Orleans was profoundly different: “The state took over almost all the city’s public schools,” “teacher tenure and the union contract ended,” and students were no longer assigned to specific schools based on where they lived.

Consider that achieving a similar (and still imperfect) disconnect between where students live and where they go to school took about 12 years in Boston. After Katrina, this was achieved almost immediately and was only one of at least four major changes in how education worked in New Orleans. It seems unrealistic to think that U.S. education post-COVID — a disaster that exceeds Katrina by at least an order of magnitude — will look much like it did in 2019.

Yet, according to a late September Pew Research Center poll, nearly half of all Americans expect life will “basically go back to normal,” once the pandemic is over. So far as education is concerned, there’s at least one good reason why this is unlikely.

The End of the Classroom?

One of the most basic changes, post-COVID, could be an end to classroom teaching entirely. To some extent, this change was already coming before COVID emerged. The current model, one teacher in the same room with a finite number of students, often around 30, doesn’t fit digital technology particularly well.

Writing for Microsoft, Geoff Spencer has proposed that the push for major changes was already underway before the pandemic struck and that they will “go far beyond just online lessons at home.” He proposes a general shift away from a teaching culture to what he calls “a learning culture,” where, more often, the teacher will act remotely as a one-on-one facilitator helping students with particular learning needs as they progress through AI-enhanced learning processes where interaction is already built into the learning programs.

How Change May Come

Changing where education takes place implicates almost everything else: some costs will go down (physical classroom building and maintenance), others will rise (digital support and social outreach personnel).

Once the connection between residential location and school is broken, parents (and teachers, too!) may insist on greater economic equality in K-12 education generally. That the quality of public-school education a child receives depends upon how much housing costs in their neighborhood has always been implicitly undemocratic and, ultimately, negatively affects our productivity, leaving potentially productive citizens without the education they need to thrive and contribute.

If shifting from classroom to remote education becomes extensive and permanent, American family life will also change. At first the changes will be difficult, but as families adapt, there will be offsetting benefits. Daily commutes for workers and students alike may become “very 20th century,” and the home may regain the social centrality it enjoyed before the rise of public education and the dominance of large corporations that housed their employees in elaborate and expensive office spaces miles away from their neighborhoods.

As we progress through this pandemic — which may cycle in intensity several times over another year to a year and a half before it’s finally defeated — we may discover unforeseen difficulties and opportunities. But I think we’ll do well to accept that there’s little chance that education will return to the way it was before COVID-19 happened and that, regarding the reinstitution of classroom-based learning, skepticism is particularly appropriate.

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Studies: Hospitals, physicians more trusted for disseminating COVID-19 information than CDC, FDA

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When Americans want information about COVID-19 and a potential vaccine, they are more likely to believe news from their local hospitals than federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new study by The Harris Poll says. It recently asked more than 2,000 adults how trustworthy they believe different sources are when attempting to understand where they can get accurate information about developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the individuals most trusted are local doctors and nurses. The Harris Poll found that almost nine of 10 respondents said their caregiver was the most trustworthy source of information.

Local hospitals are trusted on the COVID-19 vaccine, with 82% of Americans saying they were very or somewhat trustworthy sources. Only 73% of Americans said the CDC is trustworthy, and 72% reported the FDA as trustworthy. These numbers are better than drug companies that work on vaccines (71%).

Local hospitals were joined at the top by health systems like Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic and scientists, with 84% of Americans indicating they saw both as trustworthy. Just 61% of Americans said their employers and health insurance companies were very trustworthy.

Most people (70%) surveyed said they also feel their friends or family as very or somewhat trustworthy when it came to vaccine information.

These numbers skyrocket over people’s perception of politicians, for example. According to a separate Pew Research Center study, public trust in the government remains near historic lows, with only 17% of Americans saying they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (14%).

Ironically, despite this trust in local caregivers and hospitals related to COVID-19 information dissemination, patients are still steering clear of the facilities. While patients find the most security in receiving COVID-19-related information from those they directly connect within their local communities, these facilities still are not back to the level of patients served as they were before the pandemic shuttered the economy.

These low patient volumes push some hospitals to rework their budgets, seeking new ways to generate revenue. While some areas of the economy are recovering, hospitals continue to face hurdles.

Inpatient volumes are still well below what they were last year, but outpatient volumes were only slightly below 2019 levels, he added.

“What we’ve seen since April is a slow recovery over time in particular with volumes and revenues,” Erik Swanson, vice president at consulting firm Kaufman Hall, told Fierce Healthcare. “We’re seeing a long slog in the recovery of volumes. Depending on the indicator we’re looking at, they’re 6% to 7% below where they were last year with [emergency room] visits down substantially more than that.”

A recent report from consulting firm Crowe found that volumes nationally for emergency departments were down 22.7% in June compared with average weekly volumes for the year before March 15. The report examined patient transactions for nearly 1,500 hospitals. Crowe also found that outpatient services were down 7.2% in June and surgery volume dipped 8.4% the same month.

Hospitals are projecting revenue declines of between 5% and 10%. To survive, hospitals must cut costs and find new revenue streams. Some of the cost-cutting measures are obvious — furloughs and layoffs. Even with these steps, other expenses have risen in response to the pandemic, including expenses in personal protective equipment and drug costs.

Ultimately, health systems will need to seek new and inventive ways to make money. One such, albeit expensive, way is to launch their own insurance plan, like Kaiser Permanente.

Another strategy may be to capitalize on the trust their local patient has in them. Perhaps creating a subscription news or health information service, launching telehealth options, or alternative care models might defray costs long term.

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How COVID-19 is changing the exercise industry

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COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital fitness solutions, pushing the exercise industry toward a hybrid model. People will still attend brick-and-mortar gyms when the pandemic is over, but digital fitness classes will have increased their foothold in the market.

Digital Fitness Trends

More people turned to digital fitness solutions when quarantine orders closed fitness centers in March. Companies that had previously made a stir in the digital fitness space experienced a surge of interest at the onset of COVID-19, and businesses that had offered passes to brick-and-mortar fitness studios before COVID-19 shifted to provide access to virtual, pre-recorded, and live studio classes.

For example, according to Evercore ISI analyst Lee Horowitz, Peloton app downloads were five times higher in March than February. Peloton also reported a 77% increase in quarterly revenue at the end of December.

Likewise, Mindbody, a tech platform that connects people to exercise, health, and wellness solutions, launched a proprietary solution to allow users streaming fitness classes to bypass Zoom. According to their research, 46% of survey participants plan to keep taking virtual classes after gyms reopen.

Just as COVID-19 accelerated and forced the adoption of telemedicine in healthcare; it seems that it will also accelerate the adoption of at-home digital fitness.

Of course, the adoption of digital fitness solutions is not surprising. Many experts believed that the future of fitness was headed this way anyway, with pioneering companies like Peloton, MIRROR, Mindbody, Tonal, and NordicTrack paving the way.

The Aftermath of COVID-19 for Brick-and-Mortar Gyms

Not all fitness centers weathered the pandemic well. Likely, anyone who has a YMCA membership received several emails asking them to donate their membership payments throughout the epidemic.

The YMCA lost $800 million in revenue between April and May. Several branches have shut down, with at least two closures planned for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and more likely to follow.

COVID-19’s impact on the YMCA is a major one, as many parents rely on the Y for child care. The YMCA is an essential provider of preschool and before-and-after school child care programs, and a program that offers child care during school breaks.

But, the Y wasn’t the only fitness center to take a hit during the quarantine.

Gold’s Gym and 24-Hour Fitness suffered severe blows. Both companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy between May and June and cited COVID-19 as the reason for their filings. Gold’s Gym is likely to close 50% of its nonfranchise locations, and 24-Hour Fitness plans to close about 30% of its studios permanently.

New York Sports Club and other companies also ushered financial concerns during the quarantine.

Post-COVID Predictions

COVID-19 led to an increase in digital fitness classes. It pushed much of the health and wellness space online, with health coaches, personal trainers, and doctors offering more virtual consultations than before. But, now that gyms have the green light to reopen, what’s in store for fitness?

The forced break for gym-goers prompted a variety of responses. Some claim they’ll never go back to the gym, and others are delighted to be back now that gyms are open again.

Chances are the future will remain a hybrid of digital and in-person fitness solutions.

Digital classes have made exercise more accessible for many. Yet, there are still certain aspects of in-person fitness that digital fitness has yet to replicate. For instance, despite many strategies to replicate community in online fitness classes, there’s still something special about meeting people in-person for a workout, and some things, such as swimming laps, will always be challenging for most people to do at home.

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How colleges are spreading COVID-19

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Most of the attention and controversy over school attendance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic these past couple of months has focused on K-12 classrooms. Less attention has been paid to college policies.

That’s too bad, because it’s now becoming clear those same policies are likely to spread COVID-19 back into many of those students’ home communities.

The CDC Steps Up to the Plate — and Strikes Out

In late May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued another of its less-than-optimal position papers related to COVID-19: “Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education,” which laid out the risks involved in college students returning to fall classrooms in the midst of a pandemic, along with “considerations” to lessen that risk. By early fall 2020, they are familiar:

  • frequent hand-washing
  • use of masks “as feasible”
  • ”signs and messages” describing recommended protective measures

A number of CDC recommendations for “healthy operations” follow. Dealing with them all is beyond the scope of this article and, I suspect, readers’ patience, but I’ll focus on two of particular relevance to the problem of COVID-19 transmission:

  • modified physical layouts to maintain a minimum of 6 feet between persons (the CDC again adds the not particularly helpful caution “when feasible.”
  • promotion of “social distancing” at group events, including “sporting events and…sports activities.”

When you’re 19, how are you likely to interpret “when feasible?” With these earnest suggestions, what could possibly go wrong?

Decision-Making and the Adolescent Brain

What can — and already is — going wrong is the CDC’s naive belief that putting out a position paper that relies on college students to maintain safe practices in the midst of a health crisis solves the problem.

Abundant 21st century research (which nearly every college teacher and this former college teacher would confirm) shows that adolescent brains work differently from adults “when they make decisions or solve problems.”

This isn’t a correctable issue because it’s a function of the frontal cortex. Brain development in this area completes by age 25, not before. This is the area where mature decision-making takes place.

What the research shows is that there are a number of ways this development can be slowed down (by drugs, sex, diet and lack of sleep), but that there’s no way of bringing adolescents to maturity any faster. Young adults are biologically determined to act impulsively. Any directive that counts on adolescents behaving otherwise is either cynical or uninformed.

This Is Your Brain (No Drugs Needed)

Keeping the adolescent brain in mind, what has happened as colleges have reopened for the fall was entirely predictable and should have been accounted for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t and so-called “adult” decisions have only made a bad situation worse.

College students all across the country, from Pennsylvania and Ohio to Florida, Georgia and UC Berkeley have celebrated the return to school by partying. At most parties, no social distancing was observed (how can you maintain social distance and hug at the same time — it’s unreasonable!) and masks were generally scarce and more often completely absent.

As noted, all the research strongly suggests that even the best handling of this problem would have been inadequate. But the handling by the CDC and by the majority of college officials has made the situation demonstrably worse.

If you’re 19 years old and told to socially distance, how seriously should you take that when your beloved football team is already getting ready for a full-contact fall season? When local police don’t enforce public health orders on masks and social distancing? When, as Greta Anderson put in in a recent Inside Higher Ed article, students are “Partying Like it’s 2019” with uneven or nonexistent enforcement of the rulings against it.

Now Let’s Spread This Around a Bit!

The worst decision however, and the one that prompted my writing this article, is what seems to me to be the completely nutty one many colleges have made when students contract COVID, namely, to send them back home again where they can spread the disease to one more community. At East Carolina University, for example, where, as of the end of August, there were already 125 COVID cases among students and staff, and where the school made the typically belated decision to send infected students back home again and, as of Sept. 30, to conduct all classes online.

Similar decisions after COVID-19 has begun to spread have been made widely among colleges across the country as administrators find themselves unable to keep college students from, well, behaving like adolescents. The wisdom and necessity of the decision to have begun the fall semester with remote learning seems obvious. But it would have been a decision that carried its own financial and intellectual downsides, although none in my opinion as acute as the decision to return infected students back to their home communities.

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Be kind to yourself — you’ll be healthier for it

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You forgot your mom’s birthday, you blew the presentation at work and you haven’t worked out in a month — so you beat yourself up. If your best friend called and told you they had done any of these things, you would spend an hour or more talking them through it and making them feel better.

Why is it so easy to be kind to your friends and even strangers, but so difficult to give yourself a break?

The voice inside your head can build you up or tear you down, stiffen your resolve or break you. Being kind to yourself, mentally and physically, can make you healthier and happier.

A study published by Clinical Psychological Science shows that people who talked to themselves in a positive tone had lower heart rates and lower sweat response, which switches off the body’s threat response and can lower the risk of disease.

People with recurrent depression especially can benefit from talking to themselves and treating themselves kindly, the researchers said.

What does being kind to yourself look like? The same as it looks when you are kind to others — showing patience, acceptance and caring. Talk to yourself the way that you talk to people you love. Think of the nicest person you know, a parent, grandparent, favorite teacher or mentor who was kind to you. How did they treat you? How did they talk to you?

Make time for yourself every day to do something that you enjoy. Whether it’s reading, gardening, playing music, sports or games, this should be something that is just for you.

Give yourself some credit when you do a good job, do something nice or accomplish a goal. You would congratulate a co-worker or your youngster, so why not treat yourself as kindly? Be kind to others. When you start to be kind to yourself, it’s easier to be kind to others. When you are kind to others, it’s easier to be kind to yourself. Being kind to others can make a huge difference in their lives and make you feel good about yourself.

When you’ve had a rough day (or week), recharge with some self-soothing like a hot bath, long walk or snuggling with your pet.

Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Nobody is perfect and dwelling on things you have done wrong doesn’t make them go away.

Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, get regular exercise, drink water to stay hydrated and look after your appearance. You will feel better physically, and you will feel better about yourself.

Make healthy friendships. Friends who support you and your dreams can add quality to your life.

Respect yourself. You have value, respect yourself. Keep your promises to yourself.

Don’t dwell on failure. So, you didn’t succeed the first time, but you tried. Give yourself a pep talk and try again. Think of all that you have learned from the experience.

Stand up for yourself. When your inner voice starts to put you down, defend yourself like you would a friend.

Acknowledge your flaws. We all have flaws. You can’t parallel park, you are not good at math and you always forget to make up your bed. If your best friend had these flaws, you would work around them. If they are serious issues, get help — just like you would for your best buddy.

Seek help if you need it. For really big issues, like depression, mental health, drug or alcohol problems, get professional therapy. If you had a broken leg, you would get help. Take care of yourself!

Stop trying for perfection. You won’t reach it and it will just frustrate you. Just try to be better every day. Besides, perfection is boring.

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Want to fly and stay safe? Here’s what you need to know

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, people have figured out ways to conduct business and family reunions without getting on an airplane. But sometimes you have to go. So how do you stay safe on a plane?

First, make sure you really want to go. Some states and countries require people who travel out of state to quarantine for two weeks after arriving or coming home. And some countries aren’t allowing Americans in at all. Check your state’s requirements and those of the destination you are headed. If you don’t have two weeks to be secluded, you probably should stay home.

The Centers for Disease Control says there isn’t much likelihood of getting COVID-19 on a plane because of the way air is filtered and circulates, but airplane seating makes social distancing difficult, so flying could increase the chance of catching the virus.

Still need to go? If you are clear for takeoff, make sure you pack correctly.

Get a mask, in fact, get more than one. You don’t want your mask to fall out of your bag or get left in an airline bathroom, because you are going to have a hard time getting on a plane without one. Your airline might be willing to give you one, or they might not. Put one mask in your carry-on, another in your bag and have one in your pocket or purse to put on when you get to the airport.

When you go through screening, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer is probably going to ask you to adjust your mask so they can see your face. But instead of handing them your boarding pass or cellphone, place it on the scanner yourself to eliminate extra contact. Put your keys, wallet and phone in your carry-on instead of dropping them into the bin when you go through screening, too. If they make you take your cellphone out, ask if you can hold it.

Washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is important in limiting the spread of COVID-19, according to the CDC. Wash your hands before and after going through TSA screening, and after touching kiosks, handrails, elevators or escalators (but try to avoid touching these if you can).

If you cannot wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol. The TSA now allows people to carry on a 12-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, unlike the limit of 3.4 ounces for all other liquids and gels. They are probably going to screen it separately, though, so be sure you have some extra time.

Many airports have spots 6 feet apart marked on the floor at airline and rental car counters and for the lines at the TSA checkpoints. Look for the spots on the floor, and keep your distance in restrooms, seating and food counters, too.

When you get on the plane, it’s probably going to get more difficult to stay 6 feet apart, especially once you take your seat. Keep your mask on when you are boarding and while in your seat, except for eating. Some airlines have done away with food service, so that might not be an issue. Passengers can bring on their own food (put in a plastic bag during screening) and buy drinks once they are through the TSA checkpoint.

You also need to do all the things during travel that you do at home – stay away from people who are sick, don’t touch your nose and mouth and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, preferably not with your hands, but with your elbow or a tissue.

And if you don’t feel good, stay home!

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How manufacturers are keeping their employees safe

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The disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused has been felt across the world of manufacturing. Manufacturers have been some of those companies on the front lines to lead the country through recovery and renewal. While the service industry has come to a halt in some cases, manufacturers have had to keep operations up and running.

Unlike many industries that quickly pivoted to remote work, factories cannot function with a fully remote workforce. At the same time, they must ensure the safety of the employees on the job. Manufacturers have put in place some of the stringent social distancing and safety rules for employees to follow.

Some, like the Big Three automakers, have decided to ignore relaxed CDC rules and have remained vigilant. They are not taking any chances when it comes to the health and safety of their employees. Most are strictly following the guidelines set by OSHA.

Ford has launched a massive health safety campaign, which includes a COVID-19 contract with employees. It states their commitment to safe practices that will protect all against the spread of COVID-19. Ford employees and their families must agree to a list of items to keep themselves safe at home or outside.

While automakers enforced strict coronavirus precautions as they resumed production, their showrooms’ rules were less stringent. Now they are offering dealerships guidance to exceed local orders and follow the same stringent protocols that they use in their manufacturing facilities.

Solutions from U.K.-based company Pathfindr are going a long way to help manufacturing companies maintain their safety norms. Its sensors use Bluetooth and GPS to track components during the manufacturing process.

The company started with a prototype of motion-sensitive jewelry to help employees maintain social distancing rules. The object would zap a wearer if they reached for their face. Pathfindr’s engineers then came up with the winning solution: the “Safe Distancing Assistant.” The gadget warns users when others come too close to their six-foot social distancing space.

It uses technologies like Bluetooth and ultra-wideband radio, which work to keep employees separated and safe in six-feet-apart enclosed spaces. The tool has received positive feedback from the big manufacturing firms looking to get back to 100% operational capacity. Experts say that this innovative technology can even be used in massive public places like theme parks to help ensure social distancing and keep families close together.

While a third of employees may work from home, companies still need in-person workers and have to make sure that they have adequate PPE, like face masks, ear coverings, face mask extenders, and shields. There is now an increased focus on digitization processes so that remote management is more efficient.

The manufacturing industry needs over 1.7 billion facial coverings per month, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). According to the White House Supply Chain Task Force, this demand for PPE may continue through 2023.

Thus, manufacturers need all the help they can get, and NAM is working with the federal government to give them that. They are acting as a go-between to help manufacturers get protective gear like the millions of masks and gloves for America’s workforce. Manufacturers are urged to add capacity by investing in new production lines or retooling existing ones.

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