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How Infectious Disease Experts Are Spending Thanksgiving During COVID-19



With Thanksgiving just weeks away, COVID-19 cases are surging in many parts of the country.

The United States reported more than 100,000 new infections for the seventh day in a row on Tuesday. Michael Osterholm — an infectious disease expert and member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task forcetold CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. surpasses 200,000 new cases a day within the next few weeks.

Pandemic fatigue, coupled with upcoming holiday travel and indoor gatherings, has infectious disease experts deeply concerned about the spread of the virus in the months ahead.

“While this pandemic has taken a toll on many — especially those who have practiced the necessary public health measures and done their part to curb transmission — it is more crucial than ever that we stay committed,” Erin Sorrell, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s department of microbiology and immunology, told HuffPost. “We have seen the largest daily case counts in the U.S. this week since the pandemic began. The U.S. has breached 10 million cases in nine months.”

“We are headed into a very challenging few months and need everyone to do their part to follow public health guidance from trusted public health officials,” she added.

Infectious disease experts are adjusting their holiday plans — like skipping air travel in favor of Zoom dinners — to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Infectious disease experts are adjusting their holiday plans — like skipping air travel in favor of Zoom dinners — to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued updated guidance for safer holiday celebrations, noting that small get-togethers “are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.” Celebrating virtually or with only members of your household is your safest bet.

But if you’re going to gather with family or friends you don’t live with, the CDC suggests limiting the number of guests so people can remain at least 6 feet apart, asking attendees to avoid contact with others in the 14 days leading up to the event, wearing masks when not eating or drinking, gathering outdoors when possible (or in well-ventilated indoor spaces) and practicing proper hand hygiene, among other precautions.

It’s also essential to take into account other factors, like levels of community spread in the places attendees live, the potential for exposure during travel, and guests’ ages or underlying medical conditions that may put them at higher risk for severe illness. (Head to the CDC website for other considerations.)

We asked Sorrell and other infectious disease experts across the country how they’re amending their usual holiday plans in light of the pandemic. Here’s what they said they’re doing.

Limiting in-person celebrations to just the household.

“I will be making adjustments to my Thanksgiving plans. They typically include air travel to visit family that are out of state. We have opted not to travel for a number of reasons, including the risk to family members who are over the age of 65. Their health comes first. We are limiting our in-person celebrations to our immediate household this year and not introducing family members into activities that we don’t see on a regular basis. While it is not my ideal plan, I do believe it is the best option for the health of my family, my extended family and my friends.” — Sorrell

Hosting a Zoom Thanksgiving with an agreed-upon menu.

“Our family — including extended — has decided to host a virtual Thanksgiving. We decided on this set-up because it has the lowest risk and all of us will be able to get together. We plan to decide on a menu beforehand so it feels like we cooked ‘together.’ We have family across the globe: in Singapore, India, Europe, Dubai and throughout the U.S., which makes timing pretty tricky. We are planning to have a pumpkin carving festival for all interested the day prior and then we will have our Thanksgiving dinner — which may be lunch or breakfast for some.

In some ways, we are really looking forward to it because all of us have never been able to get together on Thanksgiving. Now we can, thanks to Zoom! In fact, we have entertained the idea of doing a virtual and an in-person Thanksgiving in the the post-pandemic era. We are planning a dry run this weekend with Diwali, the festival of lights, which many of our family members also celebrate.” — Neha Nanda, medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship for Keck Medicine of USC

“While it is not my ideal plan, I do believe it is the best option for the health of my family, my extended family and my friends.”

– Erin Sorrell, assistant research professor in Georgetown University’s department of microbiology and immunology

Skipping the bar and getting together with a few close friends in their pandemic bubble.

“I typically don’t do much for Thanksgiving. I’m usually with a small group of friends and will probably do the same this year, as I’ve already mixed with them. I often like to go to a bar that night but there’s no bar seating in Pennsylvania where I live so that will not be part of my plans.” — Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security

Forgoing cross-country travel for a virtual celebration at home.

“We are still not sure how we will celebrate Thanksgiving this year — and the holiday is only two weeks away! This is our favorite holiday and usually we travel from Seattle to the East Coast to see our family. This year, because of the pandemic, that seems unlikely. We are still taking stock and considering our options, but I anticipate we will celebrate at home in Seattle and see our people online — a very disheartening idea, frankly, but this will be safest. Plus, I could use the rest that avoiding transcontinental travel would entail.” — Paul S. Pottinger, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington School of Medicine

Cooking dishes that remind them of home.

“I have a large extended family in the New York area and love the joy of seeing loved ones — including my elderly mother — but decided against making that trip this year. It would have been a logistical feat to pull off: visiting elderly relatives and potentially putting them at risk, the potentially crowded airports with lots of noses and mouths together, and the shifting quarantine recommendations for visitors to New York from California. Even the Bay Area is considering a quarantine recommendation for visitors, so I could potentially be stuck both ways.

Instead, this year, I will be living the joys of seeing family by cooking the foods of my family and of my childhood instead: comfort foods like Asian-flavored stuffing, Caribbean hot sauce on everything, Trinidad macaroni pie and more. Thank God for Zoom at least. And the silver lining: We actually have a viable COVID-19 vaccine in sight, so next Thanksgiving, at least, will be in person.” — Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious diseases doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco

“We will celebrate at home in Seattle and see our people online — a very disheartening idea, frankly, but this will be safest.”

– Paul S. Pottinger, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington School of Medicine

If the weather holds up, maybe have an outdoor, pre-plated meal.

“Thanksgiving this year will be like no other. Instead of the usual coordination about who is bringing what, my family and I assessed who was at highest risk and whether we could safely gather together this year. Unfortunately, despite relatively regular testing for school and work, given the ages of my parents, my children’s return to school and sports teams, we decided that the risks outweigh the benefits of getting together. Additionally, my brother and his family live in California and are not even considering air travel at this point. My father, who lives in New York City, was very matter-of-fact about not seeing anyone this year. My mother, who lives a short drive away, was harder to convince that we would need to establish a new tradition this year.

The compromise is that we will divide up the cooking (my mother will make the turkey and I will do the sides) and meet outside to swap dishes on Thanksgiving Day so that we can all enjoy a traditional meal. If the weather holds out and we can enjoy a meal outside, my husband, children and I, and my mother and stepfather will set up the Thanksgiving table for outdoor eating inclusive of masks and social distancing and pre-plated meals. If we are unable to gather together, we will likely have a Zoom gathering and go around the virtual room to give our thanks.” — Amanda Castel, professor of epidemiology at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.


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Healthy Eating

Salma Hayek was very confused when she tried Taco Bell for the first time

“I’ve never seen that in my life,” she said about the hard-shell taco she was served.



TODAY.COM By Chrissy Callahan

Salma Hayek’s first Taco Bell experience didn’t shape up quite the way she expected it would.

In a new interview with Kelly Clarkson, the actor shared a story about a disappointing Taco Bell trip from her teens, admitting that American tacos are a tad bit different than the ones she grew up eating in Mexico.

Hayek, 54, was born and spent much of her childhood in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, but spent a couple years as a teenager living with her aunt in Houston, Texas. During this time, she said, she had a hankering for tacos and decided to visit a local Taco Bell. But when she got her meal, she was surprised to see that the tacos looked … unusual.

“They gave us the (hard) shell tacos. I’ve never seen that in my life; they don’t exist in Mexico. It’s always with the soft tortilla,” she explained.

Hayek then tried to tell the staff that they wanted tacos — aka soft-tortilla tacos — not what they’d been served.

“We’re asking each other, ‘How do you say tacos in English?’ I don’t know, the name of the place is Taco Bell,'” she told Clarkson.

“I’m like, ‘OK, taco, taco, taquito. You roll it. Yum, yum, yum. This is hard, it’s not like this,'” she recalled while mimicking how she would hold and eat a taco.

Ultimately, Hayek would learn that Taco Bell offers both hard and soft tacos.

“Turns out, that’s a Texan taco, like Tex-Mex,” she said.

Where did hard-shell tacos originate?

At this point, you’re probably wondering, where did hard-shell tacos come from, if not Mexico? Long story short, the hard-shell taco as we know it — the U-shaped, crisp-fried corn tortilla — is a Mexican food developed in the U.S. and popularized by Taco Bell.

According to a MEL magazine article, “An Oral History of Hard Shell Tacos,” the folks at Taco Bell didn’t invent hard-shell tacos. Jeffrey Pilcher, professor of food history at the University of Toronto Scarborough, said hard-shell tacos were inspired by tacos dorados (fried tacos) from Mexico, which date back to the 1890s.

Another story from Taste reports that crispy tacos were popular in Texas and California in the early 1940s. Glen Bell, who would later become the founder of Taco Bell, started selling the savory treat in the 1950s at a chain of restaurants called Taco Tia, which would later become Taco Bell.

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How much sex is normal in a relationship?




“Intimacy anorexia” may be the leading cause behind sexless marriages, and there are solutions that can help couples get back on track.

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Thanks To The Pandemic, You’re Now More Prone To These 7 Eye Issues



Add the amount of time you spend at home to your time spent in front of a screen. Multiply that by the number of hours you wear a mask every day. Then subtract the pre-pandemic stress relief methods no longer at your disposal, and what do you get? According to eye care providers, an influx of eye conditions.

It turns out the particular combination of pandemic-fueled lifestyle changes we’ve had to make are putting increased strain on our eyes, while pandemic restrictions are leaving us short of ways to reduce the pressure we’re putting on them. Cue ocular drama.

But even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms or your scratchy eyes can easily be remedied with the occasional eye drop, one thing you should keep on the books despite restrictions is your annual eye exam.

“The reality is eye doctors’ offices are very hygienic and people shouldn’t be fearful to have their eyes checked,” said Brian Boxer Wachler, a Beverly Hills board-certified ophthalmologist. “Older people especially are at higher risk of glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts, which are ‘silent’ robbers of vision, and eye exams can detect these in early stages.”

Take note of the following eye conditions you’re more prone to thanks to the pandemic, and check in with your eye care provider right away if any of the following conditions and symptoms sound (look?) familiar.


In the last year, we’ve spent an increased, and continuous, amount of time in front of a computer screen with infrequent breaks — and even when we do take breaks, we often spend them looking at other screens (phones, tablets, televisions).

“All of this screen time can contribute to myopia [i.e., nearsightedness], since people aren’t getting enough time to relax their vision or look into the distance,” said Juanita Collier, a Connecticut-based behavioral optometrist. “And because we’re spending much more time inside, our bodies aren’t getting that important daily dose of vitamin D, which has been shown to decrease the progression of nearsightedness.”

The easiest way to slow the progression of myopia is to take frequent breaks from your screens and follow the 20/20/20 rule: “Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to focus your eyes on something 20 feet away,” Collier said. (Set an alarm if you have to.)

To boost vitamin D, Collier suggested going for walks and taking your conference calls outside whenever possible, and have your kids play outside year-round too. About 15 to 20 minutes in the sun three times a week will probably do the trick, according to The Cleveland Clinic.

And when the weather outside is frightful, you can focus on getting enough vitamin D through a combination of foods (milk, eggs, salmon, fortified breakfast cereals) and supplements — the National Institutes of Health recommends a daily vitamin D intake of 600 international units for adults. Just be sure to chat with your doctor first before taking any new vitamins.

Mask-wearing (which is essential!) can contribute to dry eyes.

Dry Eye

There are two types of dry eye to combat thanks to the pandemic: computer- and mask-induced. Intensely focusing on a digital screen reduces the normal blink rate by 30%, said Boxer Wachler, so eyes are open longer and are more prone to dryness.

Mask use is also causing an uptick in dry eye, especially in health care providers and essential workers, who are wearing masks close to 40 hours per week (if not more).

“The frequency of mask use is correlated to an increase in dry eye disease due to the constant flow of exhaled air on the exposed eyes,” said Rocio C. Pasion, a board-certified optometrist at Siepser Eyecare in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Common symptoms may include stinging, burning, watery eyes, light sensitivity and blurred vision. “To help maintain a stable tear film, remember to not only increase the frequency of blinks, but also make sure a more forceful, complete blink is done during computer work,” Pasion said. (The 20/20/20 rule can really come in handy here too.)

Make sure to replenish the oil layer of tear film by using preservative-free lipid-based tear supplements, “especially during heightened use of computer and digital devices,” Pasion added.

Increasing water consumption and decreasing caffeine intake can also be helpful, as too much caffeine can dehydrate and contribute to loss of tear volume. Additionally, “the omega-3s found in fish oil are excellent at reducing inflammation — a major cause of dry eye — and taking a fish oil supplement at night can help to reduce dry eye inflammation,” Collier said.

As for mask-induced dry eye, experts recommend wearing a mask with a pliable nose wire and molding it to prevent air from being directed toward the eyes, as well as taking a break every few hours from mask-wearing to allow the eyes to recover and apply eye drops.

“For people who are still symptomatic despite following guidelines, consulting with a dry eye specialist is recommended,” Pasion said. “More advanced diagnostic evaluations and treatments ― such as prescription medications ― can be very beneficial for patients with inflammatory dry eye conditions.”

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome describes a group of eye- and vision-related problems that are a result of prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and phone use — and the more time you spend in front of screens, the more you’re at risk of developing symptoms.

This is because digital screens make the eyes work harder. Things like letters that aren’t as sharply defined, words and backgrounds that don’t have enough contrast between them, and glare and reflections on the screen can all make viewing trickier.

We also have a tendency to look at screens from varying distances and odd angles, especially when wearing glasses that aren’t designed for looking at a screen or sitting in contorted positions when we’re vegging out, which put more demands on our eyesight.

“Common symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes,” Collier said. “The extent of an individual’s visual symptoms often depends on their level of visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen.” Symptoms usually decline after halting digital device use, but some people may experience a continued reduction in visual abilities even after stopping.

Frequent screen-time breaks are absolutely necessary, Collier noted. Along with the 20/20/20 rule and stepping up your blinking, using screen glare filters and switching up your tasks so that computer work is broken up (say, by phone calls or errands) can also make it easier to get your computer work done with as few symptoms as possible.

If you need to see a doctor for this issue, be sure to find one that specializes in functional vision, like a behavioral optometrist who specifically tests for computer vision syndrome, as it isn’t part of a routine eye exam. They’ll also evaluate if computer glasses designed to address this specific issue are necessary, Collier said.

Giving your eyes a break from your screen every 20 minutes can help reduce any issues.

Giving your eyes a break from your screen every 20 minutes can help reduce any issues.

Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence insufficiency is a common vision dysfunction characterized by the eyes’ inability to turn in, or converge, during prolonged near-work (like reading). Rather, the eyes have a tendency to drift outward.

“Patients with CI tend to report blurry vision, double vision, eyestrain, headaches or an inability to concentrate during prolonged near-work,” Collier said. “For example, they’ll read a page in a book, get to the end, and have no idea what they read.”

These symptoms are exacerbated even more on a computer screen or tablet, due to our penchant for blinking less when using backlit devices.

When your eyes are feeling tired, do some pencil push-ups: “Hold a pencil 12 inches away from your nose, and slowly bring it toward your nose while keeping the pencil tip single as close as you can ― ideally, all the way to your nose,” Collier said. “Do 10 reps every hour to both get your eyes working together again and give them a break from the screen.”


If your hygiene’s taken a bit of a nosedive since the pandemic started (whose hasn’t?), the pile-up of shedded skin cells and debris from your environment can get caught up in your eyelashes and cause blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids.

“If you don’t clean your eyelashes well, this debris can build up and create a breeding ground for bacteria,” said Collier, who recommended washing your eyelids daily with a gentle lid scrub to clear away debris and keep oil glands from clogging. Frequently washing your scalp and face is another easy way to do your eyelids a solid.

Check in with your eye doctor if you’re experiencing reddened eyelid margins, swelling, soreness and dry eye symptoms, such as burning, stinging and light sensitivity. Because blepharitis is often secondary to other skin conditions or allergies, an accurate diagnosis can be helpful in keeping it under control.

Other lifestyle factors like stress can also take a toll on your eyes.

Other lifestyle factors like stress can also take a toll on your eyes.

Eye Injuries And Abrasions

Many people are using the lockdown to complete projects around their homes. And these may “have resulted in more ocular injuries,” Pasion said. “Both corneal abrasions (a scratch on the cornea) and corneal foreign bodies (debris trapped in the eye) may induce eye pain, tearing, discomfort, sensitivity to light and blurred vision.”

To prevent ocular injury, Pasion recommended wearing safety goggles when completing house projects. If it’s too late for that and rinsing your eye out with clean water or a saline solution doesn’t make a difference, your eye doctor can help you figure out the best course of action — from wearing an eye patch to using antibiotic eye drops to removing debris that’s embedded in the eye.

Central Serous Chorioretinopathy

Central serous chorioretinopathy is a buildup of fluid under the retina that causes vision impairments. The condition affects adults approximately 25 to 50 years old, with men affected more frequently than women. The most prominent risk factor of CSC? Extreme stress.

CSC usually only affects one eye at a time, but it is possible for both eyes to be affected simultaneously. “Patients may present with significant blurred vision centrally, dark spots and distortion of vision as compared to the unaffected eye,” Pasion said.

There’s usually no treatment for CSC, other than trying to manage your stress (meditating, exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, breaking away from stressors for R&R), Collier said. But you should still get it checked out to ensure you’re correctly diagnosed and it’s not something more serious, such as a macular hole. (The macula, found in the center of the retina, is what provides sharp, central vision for things like reading and driving.)


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When Should You Get A COVID-19 Test Once You’re Vaccinated?



Throughout the pandemic, health officials have advised us that one of the best ways to blunt the spread of COVID-19 is to test early and test often.

We’ve been encouraged to get tested after being exposed to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. We got tested during quarantines, before and after travel, and leading up to interactions with others.

But the role of testing changes drastically for people who’ve been vaccinated, and many are left wondering: Is this type of testing still necessary after receiving the shot?

In general, vaccinated people don’t need to get tested unless they have symptoms of COVID-19. The chance of contracting the coronavirus after being fully vaccinated is very rare. Furthermore, positive tests in vaccinated people who are asymptomatic could be misleading — viral loads in people with breakthrough infections tend to be very low, which suggests they probably aren’t contagious.

Still, given all the uncertainty, some infectious disease doctors say there may be certain situations in which a vaccinated person will want to go ahead and get tested.

Here’s what to know about getting tested after you’ve been vaccinated:

Get tested if you have symptoms.

“The only time you should be tested after being fully vaccinated against COVID is if you develop symptoms consistent with COVID,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore and an infectious disease expert. This includes a fever, cough, shortness of breath and muscle aches or chills.

This is consistent with the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even if you were directly exposed to someone with COVID, you don’t need to get tested as long as you don’t have symptoms, according to the guidelines.

And get a test if it’s required for travel or entry somewhere.

You can now travel domestically without worrying about testing and quarantining, but if you plan to travel internationally, you may have to take a pre-entry test and then another a few days before flying back to the U.S. There may also be certain businesses, cruises or entertainment venues that require customers to get tested, in which case, go ahead and take it.

People living or working in congregate settings may also need to abide by stricter testing rules.

You don’t need to get tested if you were exposed.

It’s pretty unlikely that a vaccinated person will become infected and extremely rare they’d be hospitalized or die. Recent data shows the risk of getting infected after vaccination is 0.008% (which includes asymptomatic and mild cases).

Even if a vaccinated person were to get infected, the chances of them transmitting it to others is slim. Multiple studies have shown that vaccinated people with breakthrough infections have very low viral loads that are “not necessarily likely to be contagious to others,” Adalja said.

Data suggests that the higher a person’s viral load is, the more infectious they are. Because of all this evidence, vaccinated people who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms are no longer required to get tested.

According to Adalja, there’s also a chance a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in symptomless vaccinated people could be misleading. PCR tests are sensitive and can pick up on small amounts of the coronavirus in vaccinated people who might be clearing out the virus but aren’t infectious.

Some experts recommend going for a rapid antigen test, which is less sensitive than a PCR test, if you’ve been vaccinated. “I would recommend an antigen test and if it is negative stop [getting tested]. A positive antigen test should be followed by a PCR test to make sure that the antigen test is not a false positive, which it likely could be in a fully vaccinated person,” Adalja said.

If the PCR test also comes back positive, it could be a breakthrough infection. Adalja recommends talking to your doctor and having the sample sequenced to see if it’s a variant of the virus.

Your risk of a COVID-19 infection is very low once you’re vaccinated.

There may be other special cases in which a test might make sense.

Though vaccinated people are well protected against COVID-19, there may be certain situations in which a test might be warranted — i.e., if you were knowingly exposed to someone with COVID-19 and plan to visit a high-risk relative or unvaccinated friend.

The vaccines, though incredibly effective, aren’t 100%, and there will be rare breakthrough infections, said Anne Liu, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California. In general, vaccinated people shouldn’t be discouraged from getting tested. Getting tested in these sorts of gray-area situations isn’t required, but it might be the most prudent thing to do, according to Liu.

Some elderly and immunocompromised people might not respond well to the vaccine. “They’re still at much higher risk for getting the virus than [most] people who are fully vaccinated,” Liu said, adding that there’s a lot of virus out there, and many people are unvaccinated and remain at risk for COVID-19.

Adalja, on the other hand, said even in these sorts of scenarios there’s no real need for a test as long as you’re asymptomatic, given that the risk of contracting and spreading the infection after vaccination is so rare. “I would not recommend it.”

Ultimately, it’s your call. If getting tested will bring you peace of mind, go for it. It’s tough to make any sort of hard-and-fast rule about getting tested after vaccination in various situations since the coronavirus is still so widespread. Our knowledge and the guidance is changing so fast, and the more vaccinated our population becomes, the less necessary tests will be.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.


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What The New CDC Outdoor Face Mask Guidelines Mean For You



If you’re fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask outside for the most part …

If you’re fully vaccinated — meaning it has been at least two weeks since you received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or it has been two weeks since you got the Johnson & Johnson shot — then you “no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues,” the CDC now advises.

The CDC categorizes outdoor activities like walking, running or biking with members of your household as low-risk. The same goes for small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family members and friends.

That change in guidance around outdoor mask-wearing is rooted in the fact that, now, more than a year into the pandemic, scientists know much more about how the coronavirus spreads and where transmission risk is highest.

“We know that indoor transmission is probably about 20 times higher than outdoor transmission,” Dr. Jarod Fox, an infectious disease specialist and chairman of Orlando Health’s Infectious Disease Group, told HuffPost, pointing to a systematic review of several studies that measured rates of outdoor transmission.

“Less than 10% of global cases over the past year have been associated with outdoor exposure, so the vast majority of cases have been from some sort of indoor, close-proximity exposure,” Fox added. Fresh air helps move and disperse the droplets that spread the coronavirus, and UV light may also play a role.

Fox noted that the research looking at outdoor transmission was conducted before widespread vaccination. That means the transmission risk outdoors now is likely even lower, particularly in areas where a large percentage of the population has been vaccinated.

… But fully vaccinated people *do* still need to wear masks in crowded settings.

Although fully vaccinated people can participate in outdoor recreation without wearing a mask, you should absolutely wear one if you’re going to be in a crowded outdoor setting, the CDC says. That might include a live performance, a parade or any kind of sports event.

That is because even though “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 are extremely rare in those who have been fully vaccinated, they are possible. And in crowded settings, it’s difficult to maintain social distance, another key risk factor.


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How The COVID-19 Vaccine May Affect Your Period (And What To Do About It)



The coronavirus vaccines have provided a glimmer of hope during this prolonged pandemic. Yet like most shots, they can cause mild to moderate side effects like fever, chills and muscle pain.

Recently, some vaccinated people reported late menstrual cycles and heavy periods. The initial vaccine trials did not track data on menstruation symptoms.

“Unfortunately, these period symptoms weren’t recorded during the vaccine trials, so we rely on post-release reporting to get that information,” Danielle Jones, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist based in Texas, told HuffPost. She added that many coronavirus survivors who menstruate reported similar symptoms.

“The COVID-19 vaccine should not permanently change or alter your menstrual cycle. If your symptoms last for more than a few cycles, talk to your health care provider.”

– Danielle Jones, board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist

Currently, there is no research that links heavy, irregular and painful periods to the coronavirus vaccines. Experts say it is hard to pinpoint what exactly causes these symptoms.

“Menstruation is a complex process, which can be influenced by many factors, such as environmental changes, stress, sleep and some medications,” Jones said.

She added that the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, is considered to be an active part of the immune system. “When your immune system is ramped up because you’re vaccinated or sick, you may experience changes in how the endometrium reacts.”

It wouldn’t be shocking if the vaccine affects menstruation somehow, but more data is needed to make a definitive conclusion. The good news is that any changes you experience in your menstrual cycle after getting the vaccine are temporary, so it shouldn’t be a reason not to get a shot.

“The COVID-19 vaccine should not permanently change or alter your menstrual cycle. If your symptoms last for more than a few cycles, talk to your health care provider,” Jones said.

Here’s what else you can do for relief from a heavy and painful menstrual cycle:

Take an over-the-counter supplement.

Some anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications can help. After receiving the shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking medicine such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin or antihistamines to reduce pain and discomfort — if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

Taking one of these medications may also help “alleviate the pain often associated with a heavier flow,” said Alexandria Reyes, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist at Magnolia Gynecology.

Apply heat by taking a warm bath or using a heating pad.

Heat therapy may ease menstrual cramps. A heating pad on your abdomen and lower back can be really comforting for painful cycles, Jones said.

Make sure you’re staying hydrated.

This is important when you get the vaccine, as side effects like a fever can dehydrate you. But water may also help decrease pain associated with heavier cycles. Drink plenty of water or other hydrating liquids like tea or sparkling water. Most people need at least four to six cups of water a day.

Reduce your stress levels.

Psychological stress can impact the duration and flow of your period. Some healthy ways to lower your stress levels and improve overall mental health include exercise, mindfulness, getting a good night’s sleep and staying connected with loved ones.

Report your post-vaccine period symptoms.

If you do experience intense symptoms after your vaccine, submit a report via the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). If you are over 18, have or have had menstrual cycles, and have taken at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, you are also eligible to take part in a recent survey launched by researchers at the University of Illinois. Whether you have had changes with your periods or not, this data will be immensely helpful in studying this side effect, Jones said.

Remember, if your symptoms persist for more than a few menstrual cycles after receiving the coronavirus vaccine, visit your health care provider.


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6 Signs You’re Dealing With ‘Hurry Sickness’ (And What To Do About It)



Are you constantly racing to cross items off your to-do list, juggling several tasks at a time, and feeling like you’re behind schedule? Do you get agitated by any impediment, however small, that attempts to slow down your progress? Then you might be dealing with “hurry sickness.”

Hurry sickness is a behavior pattern (not a diagnosable condition) characterized by chronic rushing and anxiousness and an overwhelming, persistent sense of urgency — even when there’s no need to be moving so fast.

The term was coined by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman and popularized in their 1974 book, “Type A Behavior And Your Heart.” (At the time, they posited that people with Type A personalities were more prone to heart issues. The strength of that association was later called into question.)

Turns out, “hurry sickness” is a component of the broader Type A personality complex, according to John Schaubroeck, chair and professor of management at the University of Missouri’s Robert J. Trulaske Sr. College of Business.

“If one is chronically in a hurry, one is also very likely to be highly driven to achieve small outcomes in the short term, to be competitive, and to be impatient with others,” he told HuffPost.

What Hurry Sickness Looks Like

Type A personalities tend to deal with “hurry sickness.”

1. You treat everything like a race.

Some situations do require us to move with haste — like when we need to meet an important work deadline or get to the airport on time for a flight. Others, however, do not. People with hurry sickness have trouble differentiating between when the hustle is necessary and when it isn’t.

“If you find yourself treating even small, everyday tasks like shopping, eating or driving as a race, and any delay causes feelings of anxiety, you might be dealing with hurry sickness,” said Lee Chambers, an environmental psychologist and well-being consultant based in the U.K.

2. You find it impossible to do just one task at a time.

When you’re dealing with hurry sickness, multitasking is your M.O.

In fact, focusing on just one task — even for a short time — feels unbearable to you. You’ll try to figure out what else you can squeeze in while you microwave your lunch or brush your teeth, for example, said Richard Jolly, an organizational consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

3. You get highly irritable when encountering a delay.

Standing in line at the bank, sitting in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment or getting stuck in traffic really gets your blood boiling.

“You get anxious and frustrated in traffic even if you do not need to arrive at your destination at a particular time,” Schaubroeck said.

Another sign? You’re the kind of person who presses the “close door” button in the elevator repeatedly. You’ll do anything to avoid wasting time, even if it makes you look kind of ridiculous.

“Half the time, those buttons aren’t even connected to anything but a light bulb — they’re what’s called a ‘mechanical placebo,’” Jolly previously told “But even if they worked, how much time would they save? Five seconds?”

4. You feel perpetually behind schedule.

When you’re dealing with hurry sickness, there never seems to be enough hours in a day to accomplish what you need to do. And no matter how much you get done, you always feel like you’re playing catch-up.

5. You interrupt or talk over people.

Your impatience isn’t just limited to long lines and traffic jams — it spills over into your personal relationships, too. You may not intend to be rude, but you’ve been told that you have a habit of cutting people off mid-conversation.

“You frequently interrupt others when they speak, particularly if they speak slowly,” Schaubroeck said.

6. You’re obsessed with checking things off your to-do list.

You love the burst of satisfaction you get when you complete a task and get to cross it off your list. But that high doesn’t last long — you quickly move on to the next thing.

Moving at this fast pace doesn’t actually make you more productive. Instead, it makes you more prone to errors.

“[Hurry sickness] shows up as a hyperawareness of what you need to do, constantly playing over and over in your head,” Chambers told HuffPost. “This can be so overconsuming that you actually end up forgetting things or making mistakes because you’re rushing and thinking about the next task while doing your present one.”

How Living This Way Can Be Damaging Over Time

While this behavior pattern may feel productive, it can actually take a toll on several parts of your life.

While this behavior pattern may feel productive, it can actually take a toll on several parts of your life.

Moving through the world in a perpetually rushed state can have negative effects on your physical and mental well-being, your work, and your relationships.

For one, chronic stress can weaken your immune system and interfere with your sleep schedule and energy levels, Chambers said. The unrelenting feelings of urgency also make it difficult to stay focused, which may affect your work performance and mood.

“It impacts our behaviors, especially toward others and situations that delay us, resulting in feelings of failure, being irritable and hypersensitive and, at times, angry and frustrated,” Chambers said.

The need to accomplish more and more in less and less time diverts attention and emotional bandwidth away from the meaningful relationships in our lives.

“We lose patience with those we love who don’t move at the same speed, we are not present with them, and we struggle to be connected and empathetic, as emotional support for others is a time drain,” Chambers said. “This ultimately leads to loss of tempers, conflict and even breakups and fallouts.”

Advice On How To Deal With ‘Hurry Sickness’

Consider what’s truly time-sensitive and what can wait.

Treating every task like an emergency that must be handled ASAP is a recipe for chronic stress. Prioritize what actually needs to get done and move the other items to the back burner. Try thinking of time as more of a friend than an enemy, psychologist Michael Ashworth wrote for

“Excessive time urgency is a problem in thinking,” he wrote. “Everyone has some pressure to get things done. However, if you consider everything is equally urgent, you’re likely to experience stress problems. Rethink your view of time, how you relate to it, and what is really important to you. Place events and tasks in proper perspective.”

Carve out small windows of time for self-care. Then, gradually increase them as it becomes more comfortable.

When you’re dealing with hurry sickness, relaxing may not come easily at first. So start small: Instead of booking a weeklong vacation, try setting aside an hour on the weekend to go on a hike or curl up with a good book.

“Use this time to reconnect with things you enjoy, and let the feelings float by as you regenerate and do something enjoyable,” Chambers said. “Reading, talking, walking and meditation are all examples of ways we can relax in an enjoyable way.”

Create an evening routine.

If you have a hard time turning your brain off at night, establish a nighttime routine that helps you wind down and ease into sleep. That might include a cup of tea, a warm shower, journaling or whatever feels calming to you.

“Sleep helps us feel regenerated and emotionally balanced but becomes the enemy of speed and, even worse, is harder to get when constantly anxious,” Chambers said. “Finding a p.m. routine that works to gradually switch us ‘off’ promotes better sleep quality and quantity, boosting both our recovery, our well-being and how focused we are the following day.”

Give yourself time to think.

When you’re constantly bouncing from one task to the next, you get bogged down in minutiae, unable to see the bigger picture. Allowing time for deep thought may feel like a waste at first. It’s not exactly an action item you can cross off your to-do list. But it’s necessary if you want to work toward your larger goals.

“There is a phrase that originates in Florida: ‘When you are fighting off the alligators, it’s hard to remember to drain the swamp,’” Jolly said. “Today, we can spend our whole lives fighting alligators — emails, Zoom calls, social media — and never achieve things that are going to help us ‘drain the swamp.’”

Get support from loved ones.

Changing deeply ingrained behaviors isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Ask your support system to point out when you’re falling into old habits and help you replace them with healthier ones.

“With the support of your family, your colleagues and friends, you can build a support base that can help you identify your patterns and triggers, keep you accountable to slowing down, and keep you from falling back into old habits,” Chambers said. “If it becomes a continual struggle, professional help is available to work with you.”


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