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How the pandemic is contributing to your insomnia – CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/27/health/insomnia-sleep-problems-pandemic-wellness/index.html

How the pandemic is contributing to your insomnia - CNN

Between cooling off from the stress of the workday and managing her anxiety from reading about the pandemic and politics, she’s lucky to turn in before midnight. Once the 44-year-old marketing executive falls asleep, she usually wakes up two or three times before the alarm rings around 6 a.m.

On good nights, Aswani gets four or five hours of sleep before she must wake up and jump into her roles as mother and virtual learning facilitator for her 5-year-old son. On bad nights, Aswani barely gets any sleep at all.

“I’ve never been a good sleeper, but it’s been 20 times worse since the pandemic started,” she said. “It’s gotten to the point where just thinking about sleep stresses me out.”

Aswani, from San Clemente, California, is one of many people who have experienced some sort of disruption to their usual sleeping routines since the pandemic began this March. For some, the changes are subtle — more restlessness or a poorer quality of sleep. For others, the new reality is flat-out hell: either a chronic lack of sufficient sleep or full-on insomnia.

Subscribe to CNN’s Sleep, But Better Newsletter: Want the best sleep of your life? Sign up for our newsletter series for helpful hints to achieve better sleep.

Some experts have gone so far as to nickname the current trend “coronasomnia,” said Christina Pierpaoli Parker, postdoctoral fellow of clinical psychology and behavioral sleep medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Whatever we call it, Pierpaoli Parker said there are strong relationships between the pandemic and sleeplessness.

“Good sleep undergirds every aspect of mental and physical health, which we need to support now more than ever,” she said. “When we create the optimal cognitive, behavioral and environmental conditions for sleep — including low ambient temperature — we also support optimal conditions for health overall.”

Sleep woes by the numbers

We can’t just blame the pandemic. Sleeplessness was a problem long before this latest crisis.

Roughly a third of US adults were getting the minimum of seven hours of sleep per night recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, according to 2016 data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the pandemic started, the numbers have gotten worse. While there has been an 11.3% overall decrease in the number of prescriptions filled for sleep disorders since 2015, the number of prescriptions filled for sleep disorders between February 16 and March 15 increased by 14.8%, a report from pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts indicated.
More recently, 36% of Americans reported difficulty sleeping this summer due to stress about the pandemic, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Finally, while people are sleeping more during the pandemic, data from yet another recent study indicated that the quality of their sleep is declining precipitously.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated sleeplessness. Poor or insufficient sleep can increase risk for chronic health problems. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated sleeplessness. Poor or insufficient sleep can increase risk for chronic health problems.
There are many reasons to be concerned: Poor or insufficient sleep can increase risk for chronic health problems such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease and depression. Sleep also is considered a critical part of the proper function of our immune systems, which is important during a pandemic.
Poor sleep linked to weight gain in 2-year smartphone sleep tracking studyPoor sleep linked to weight gain in 2-year smartphone sleep tracking study
Poor sleep habits also can lead to weight gain, according to the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

That’s because lack of sleep is associated with dysregulation of the hormones that make us hungry and tell us we’re full. What’s more, fatigue hijacks our motivation to exercise, and when we’re tired, we generally make more impulsive choices about everything — especially what we eat.

What’s plaguing us

There are several different manifestations of sleeplessness plaguing us at this point in the pandemic.

Get better sleep by cuddling up with your partnerGet better sleep by cuddling up with your partner

The most common of these conditions is insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling or staying asleep or early morning awakenings without returning to sleep at least three nights a week for a period of at least three months. Insomnia can include one or all of these symptoms, and can impact the patient’s ability to function during wakefulness, Pierpaoli Parker noted.

Insomnia typically affects 10% to 14% of American adults, according to the CDC. This year, however, sleep experts say that based on the number of patients they’re seeing for this condition, the number has spiked dramatically.

Not everybody with formal sleep problems is diagnosed with full-on insomnia; most sufferers instead are plagued by anxiety about the world, and, as a result, fail to get the minimum suggested amount, resulting in a chronic lack of sufficient quality sleep.

Jennifer Martin, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said both disorders are understandable since humans are wired to stay awake in the face of danger and we’re facing the first widespread global pandemic in 100 years.

Searching for more zzzs? There is a sleep app for thatSearching for more zzzs? There is a sleep app for that

“It would have been an unfortunate mistake of evolution if we were sleepy when there was a tiger outside of our cave and we went to sleep,” Martin said. “When we perceive a threat, we are awake. That’s adaptive. That’s good for us. Yet when there is a large threat in our environment like a global pandemic, one of our initial biological stress reactions is to not sleep so we can be prepared to deal with the threat.”

Why we’re up all night

Experts agree there are several factors contributing to our general lack of sleep.

Try this 5-minute yoga routine before bedtimeTry this 5-minute yoga routine before bedtime

First on the list: disruption to routine. Human beings operate in accordance with natural, internal processes that regulate our sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. Known as circadian rhythms, these are connected to certain external factors that happen every day: sunrise, sunset and more. Because most of us are spending more time at home, we’re all thrown off our natural respective routines, adding to an overall sense of confusion and unrest.

Without typical social time cues such as getting dressed for work or dropping off the kids at school at a certain standard time, our brains are less aware of when to prepare for sleep, said Chandra L. Jackson, Earl Stadtman investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Staying in the house, which lowers our exposure to natural light, also throws off these circadian rhythms and sleep schedules, she said.

Another explanation: Between Zoom meetings for work and people being glued to their phones, screen time is at an all-time high.

How to sleep better — kids and grown-ups alikeHow to sleep better — kids and grown-ups alike

Blue spectrum light generated from screens tells the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, said Dr. David Neubauer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

Of course, other factors contributing to poor sleep habits include money worries, anxiety over employment and the all-too-understandable fear about actually catching Covid-19 and transmitting it to loved ones.

Seeking solutions

For those formally diagnosed with insomnia, there are medicinal aids such as zolpidem (Ambien) or benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium), but these require prescriptions and generally are only limited to no more than a couple of weeks.

Mouth breathing might be ruining your sleep. Here's how to fix itMouth breathing might be ruining your sleep. Here's how to fix it

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBTi, helps people identify the underlying causes of their insomnia and adopt behaviors to change it. It usually takes six to eight sessions to work — which means sufferers experience relief about two months after they start treatment.

Jennifer Kanady, a clinical psychologist and the clinical innovation lead for sleep at Big Health, a medical technology company in San Francisco, said the “treatment is about breaking bad habits and retraining the individual to sleep the healthy way.” Stimulus control is one component of treatment, she added, and it “strengthens the bed-sleep connection by limiting wakefulness in bed.”

For those suffering from a chronic lack of sufficient sleep, experts say it’s critical to get yourself back on a regular schedule — even if it means first depriving yourself of sleep to do it.

Light pollution ruins teen sleep and may contribute to mental disorders, study saysLight pollution ruins teen sleep and may contribute to mental disorders, study says

People should get out of bed if they can’t fall asleep (or return to sleep) within 15-30 minutes, or as soon as trying to fall asleep feels frustrating, Pierpaoli Parker suggested. She added it’s important to minimize exposure to anything with blue light or a backlit screen for about an hour or two before bed. This means no television or scrolling on your phone within an hour of bedtime. Yes, really.

Other options

Tactical changes to your everyday lifestyle can improve sleep habits, as well.

Regular exercise is a great practice, as it helps tire your body. Another good idea: making your bedroom sacred. With so many people working from home, it’s important to ensure that the bed remains a place for sleep, not a place for activity, said Bill Fish, president of OneCare Media, which publishes SleepFoundation.org.
Tea, milk and other drinks to help you sleep (and some that will hurt)Tea, milk and other drinks to help you sleep (and some that will hurt)

“Set up your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep and sex,” Fish, a certified sleep science coach, said. “The more you do in there during the day, the harder it will be to recognize it’s a place for sleep at night.”

Another good strategy, Kanady said, is setting aside 20 minutes each day for letting out worries and anxieties by writing them down on a piece of paper. She said that by worrying at the same time and in the same place every day, your brain will start to learn that there is a dedicated place and time for worries, and the worries will start to interfere with sleep less.

Many sleep sufferers are open to trying anything. Meg Alcazar, on the other hand, a single mother who lives in Durham, North Carolina, has had enough.

“My main issue seems to be that all the advice is about self-discipline: Cut out alcohol, don’t eat after 6 p.m., no carbs,” she said. “Our normal has already been upended, are we really to deny ourselves the few remaining pleasures for something as basic and unexciting as sleeping through the night?”

Alcazar noted that she’d rather suffer through current challenges than give up things she loves.

“The idea of living like a monk on a mountain with the world burning down around me makes me feel I’d rather just sleep when I’m dead,” she said.

Matt Villano, a writer and editor in Northern California, has had trouble sleeping since March.

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Inova canceling all first-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments – Inside NoVA

https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/inova-canceling-all-first-dose-covid-19-vaccine-appointments/article_39a1c800-5f60-11eb-a68e-2fa02b866c94.html

Inova canceling all first-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments - Inside NoVA

Inova Health is canceling all first-dose appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, effective Tuesday.

The hospital system says its vaccine supply had been “severely diminished” after a switch in the state’s distribution method.

“Vaccinating everyone in the Northern Virginia community, as quickly as possible, is Inova’s top priority right now,” the hospital said in a statement. “Last week, in response to a national shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Virginia Department of Health made a modification to their vaccine distribution methods and announced that going forward, vaccines will be sent directly to health districts to be allocated appropriately.

“As a result, Inova’s allocation of vaccine has been severely diminished, causing us to make the difficult decision to prioritize the available doses.”

Those who received a first dose from Inova and are scheduled for a second dose appointment will be prioritized at this time and their appointments will be honored.

“We understand and share the frustration that this news brings to our patients,” the statement said. “When we receive more supply inventory, we will first prioritize patients who had an appointment scheduled and then focus on opening further appointments up to eligible groups. If you are a patient whose appointment is cancelled, rest assured we are working diligently to identify new supply and will reach out to reschedule your appointment as soon as we are confident we have a vaccine for you.”

In the last month, Inova quickly established operations and administered more than 70,000 vaccines.

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Coronavirus update San Antonio, Jan. 25: Leaders report 2,082 new COVID-19 cases, 13 new deaths – KSAT San Antonio

https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2021/01/26/coronavirus-update-san-antonio-jan-25-leaders-report-2082-new-covid-19-cases-13-new-deaths/

Coronavirus update San Antonio, Jan. 25: Leaders report 2,082 new COVID-19 cases, 13 new deaths - KSAT San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff updated the community about the local response to COVID-19 in their daily briefing Monday night.

Nirenberg reported 162,108 total COVID-19 cases and 1,980 total deaths in Bexar County, an increase of 2,082 new cases as of Monday. Thirteen new deaths were reported today.

The mayor says some of Sunday’s cases were included in Monday’s numbers due to a backlog.

The 7-day moving average of cases is 1,722.

City officials also reported that 1,402 patients are hospitalized, 409 are in the intensive care unit and 263 are on ventilators. There are 13% of staffed beds available and 51% of ventilators available.

Nirenberg said the COVID-19 Risk Level this week is “severe,” and many of the risk indicators have either stabilized or improved for the first time in weeks. The positivity rate has decreased to 15%, down from 17.5% last week.

RELATED: Had the 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine in San Antonio? Here’s how to get the 2nd dose.

Wolff said the Bexar County Hospital District will be administering first doses of the vaccine at the Wonderland Mall site to those in the Phase 1B category this week. The following week, those people will get their second vaccine dose.

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT:

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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With limited vaccines, Monterey County moves to vaccine Phase 1b, Tier 1 – KSBW Monterey

https://www.ksbw.com/article/with-limited-vaccines-monterey-county-moves-to-vaccine-phase-1b-tier-1/35313986

With limited vaccines, Monterey County moves to vaccine Phase 1b, Tier 1 - KSBW Monterey

Monterey County leaders have transitioned to the Phase 1b, Tier 1, population in their vaccination efforts. According to health officials, the county has made enough progress in vaccinating Phase 1a health care workers that they can now move on to more people. Phase 1b, Tier 1 includes residents over the age of 75 years old. Health care workers in Phase 1a can still get the vaccine if they were unable to get it earlier. “After consulting with representatives from our local health care community and reviewing data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we believe that prioritizing people 75 years of age and older at this time will save the most lives,” states Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County Health Officer and Director of Public Health.Health officials noted that vaccine supplies are still limited stating that Monterey County receives 2,000 to 4,000 doses of vaccine each week, half of which must be used for the second dose in the vaccine series.The MCHD plans to open vaccination clinics as more vaccines become available. Monterey County’s vaccine appointment registration website will be updated as clinics are scheduled: www.montereycountycovid19.com. Please note that individuals will be required to show proof of at least 75 years of age when presenting for community-based vaccination appointments. For more information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination, visit www.montereycountycovid19.com or call the COVID-19 call center at 831-769-8700 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monterey County leaders have transitioned to the Phase 1b, Tier 1, population in their vaccination efforts.

According to health officials, the county has made enough progress in vaccinating Phase 1a health care workers that they can now move on to more people.

Phase 1b, Tier 1 includes residents over the age of 75 years old. Health care workers in Phase 1a can still get the vaccine if they were unable to get it earlier.

“After consulting with representatives from our local health care community and reviewing data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we believe that prioritizing people 75 years of age and older at this time will save the most lives,” states Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County Health Officer and Director of Public Health.

Health officials noted that vaccine supplies are still limited stating that Monterey County receives 2,000 to 4,000 doses of vaccine each week, half of which must be used for the second dose in the vaccine series.

The MCHD plans to open vaccination clinics as more vaccines become available.

Monterey County’s vaccine appointment registration website will be updated as clinics are scheduled: www.montereycountycovid19.com. Please note that individuals will be required to show proof of at least 75 years of age when presenting for community-based vaccination appointments.

For more information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination, visit www.montereycountycovid19.com or call the COVID-19 call center at 831-769-8700 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Covid-19 masks: Which mask is best for you, and when to use it – CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/25/health/covid-19-masks-which-is-best-wellness/index.html

Covid-19 masks: Which mask is best for you, and when to use it - CNN

But instead of what pattern, logo or slogan you display, choose your mask based on its effectiveness against the deadly coronavirus in the environment you are in.

Guidelines on how to help you make that choice should be out by midspring, according to Jonathan Szalajda, deputy director at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, which is part of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Working closely with government agencies, industry stakeholders and ASTM International, an international technical standards organization, the standards will apply to filter efficiency, sizing and fit, cleaning and recommended period of use or reuse.

For now, here’s a breakdown of respirators and masks based on current scientific knowledge, and what experts are saying on how to best use them.

N95-type masks

Made from fibers woven with an electrical charge that can trap errant particles — like a sock that sticks to your pants in the dryer — studies have shown N95-type respirators are currently at the top of the line when it comes to filtering large and small particles. Masks in this category are also known as “filtering facepiece respirators” or “disposable respirators.”
The face mask that could end the pandemicThe face mask that could end the pandemic

What would happen if every American wore an N95-type mask for four weeks in risky settings like being indoors?

“It would stop the epidemic,” Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

N95 respirators come in many sizes to accommodate various face shapes. When fitted to the wearer’s face and worn properly, N95-type masks can trap 95% of particles around 0.3 microns, studies have shown. SARS CoV-2 can be as small as 0.1 micron in diameter — that’s about 4 millionths of an inch.

While it may seem that N95 filters would miss the tiny Covid particles, that’s not so. Most bits of virus exit the lungs encased inside larger respiratory droplets, typically much bigger than 0.3 microns.

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Even those that become aerosolized are easily captured. Due to a natural phenomenon called Brownian motion, such minute particles don’t travel in straight lines. Instead they bounce around in a zigzag fashion and are easily caught in the N95’s electrostatic filter.
While some experts are calling for a nationwide rollout of N95 masks, such masks are currently reserved for health care professionals on the front lines of caring for Covid-19 patients. That’s partly due to a shortage of such masks, which are designed to be worn once and discarded, but also due to the training needed to fit and wear the mask properly.

“In a health care setting, there’s an advantage because there’s a degree of sophisticated training to inform people how to properly wear respirators which doesn’t exist in a public setting,” NPPTL’s Szalajda said.

According to the CDC, a few other respirators also meet or exceed the 95% efficacy level: the N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99 and P100 masks. Some of these devices — which can look like gas masks — have received an emergency use authorization and can be used in nonsurgical settings during shortages of N95 masks.

The N95 mask — and its sisters and brothers — is best fitted to a person’s unique facial contours on a bare face to keep the seal tight. Then the mask must be worn properly, despite the fact that such high filtration can make breathing more difficult. N95-type masks have a much higher breathing resistance than simple surgical or fabric masks.

“I’ve seen people with a full beard wearing the N95, or they’re wearing the 95 upside down, or they just have it over their mouth and not their nose and mouth because it’s easier to breathe when you’re not covering your nose,” Szalajda said.

Note: Beware of N95 masks with exhalation valves in them, since those valves put your airflow back into the environment. Also beware of knockoff N95s being sold on the internet and at some commercial stores.

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden wearing two masks.  National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman arrives at the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden wearing two masks.
The CDC’s NIOSH lists dozens of counterfeit masks being sold as N95 or NIOSH-approved masks on its website, and offers the following advice on how to be sure you are not buying a fraudulent product:
  • NIOSH-approved respirators carry an approval label on or within the packaging of the respirator and on the mask itself.
  • NIOSH-approved respirators will always have one of the following designations: N95, N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99 or P100.
  • You can verify the approval number on the agency’s equipment list or trusted-source page to determine if the respirator has been approved by NIOSH.

Europe’s FFP2

In response to the spread of new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus, some European countries are mandating the use of FFP1 and FFP2 masks — which stand for “filtering facepiece respirator.”

  • Note: The “P” means the mask is strongly resistant to oil and can be used to protect against nonoily and oily aerosols. In comparison, the “N” on N95 means the mask is not resistant to oil and can’t be used in an oil droplet environment (such as drilling for oil).
European countries mandate medical-grade masks over homemade cloth face coveringsEuropean countries mandate medical-grade masks over homemade cloth face coverings

An FFP1 filter has a minimum filtration efficiency of 80%, an FFP2 is 94% effective and a FFP3 is 99% effective against airborne infectious diseases.

Last week the German state of Bavaria mandated that citizens use FFP2 masks when shopping in stores and traveling on public transport. The German government then followed that lead, requiring everyone in the country to wear either FFP1 or FFP2 masks while at work, in shops or traveling on public transport.

France is also requiring citizens to leave homemade masks behind. Now single-use surgical FFP1 masks and more protective FFP2 filtering facepiece respirators are required in all public places. France is also allowing people to use commercial fabric masks certified to filter 90% of particles greater than or equal to 3 microns. Citizens are told to look for the “filtration guarantee” logo when buying such masks.

KN95 and similar filtering facepiece respirators

The KN95 masks, which are certified via Chinese standards, also filter out and capture 95% of 0.3 micron particles. But there are differences: Filter layers of N95 respirators were “8-fold thicker and had 2-fold higher dipole charge density than that of KN95 respirators,” a study published in December found.
A pandemic playbook for a new yearA pandemic playbook for a new year
These KN95 masks are not certified by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, but a few manufacturers of KN95 masks have been given emergency use approval to be used in health care settings in the US.
The company 3M, which makes many filtering facepiece respirators, put out a document comparing N95 and European FFP2 respirators to the Chinese KN95, the Australia-New Zealand P2, the Korean 1st Class and the Japanese DS2 and found all of them “similar” in regard to “filtering non-oil-based particles such as those resulting from wildfires, PM (small particle) 2.5 air pollution, volcanic eruptions, or bioaerosols (e.g. viruses).

“However, prior to selecting a respirator,” the 3M document said, “users should consult their local respiratory protection regulations and requirements or check with their local public health authorities for selection guidance.”

Surgical-grade masks

Designed to be used by surgeons and other health care professionals, surgical-grade masks are loose-fitting, disposable devices meant to “help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose,” according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
President Joe Biden has often been seen wearing a surgical mask beneath a cloth one.President Joe Biden has often been seen wearing a surgical mask beneath a cloth one.

They do not “filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures,” the FDA stressed.

“Surgical masks weren’t meant to perform the functions of the respirator,” said NPPTL’s Szalajda. “They’re not intended to be protection from inhalation particles but from contact with body fluids.”

True medical-grade masks are made of three layers of nonwoven fabric typically made from plastic. The colored top layer of fabric is made of medical-grade spunbond polypropylene, which is a resin polymer heat-bonded into a weblike structure.

Surgical masks also have small, bendable wires to help the mask stay in place, and are often tied behind the head or secured with ear ties. This design doesn’t make for a particularly great fit, especially compared to the N95, according to Szalajda.

Surgical masks are one-time use only, and if they are soiled or breathing becomes difficult, the mask should be carefully discarded and replaced, the FDA said.

Homemade cloth masks

The most common mask in use among the general public today is a fabric mask, often homemade. Effectiveness depends on the type of fabric used and the number of layers of cloth. These masks can be as little as 26% effective.

More vaccines could be coming soon and they could be a big boost to the rolloutMore vaccines could be coming soon and they could be a big boost to the rollout

According to the CDC, “multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts, in some cases filtering nearly 50% of fine particles less than 1 micron.”

That’s good news — studies have detected SARS‐CoV‐2 in aerosols between 1 and 4 microns.

A study published last September examined the ability of cotton, polyester and silk to repeal moisture when used in masks or as mask inserts.

“We found that silk face coverings repelled droplets in spray tests as well as disposable single-use surgical masks,” the authors wrote, adding that silk masks “can be more breathable than other fabrics that trap humidity, and are re-useable via cleaning.”

Shown here are different types (from left) of respiratory mask -- FFP1, FFP2, N95 and FFP3.Shown here are different types (from left) of respiratory mask -- FFP1, FFP2, N95 and FFP3.
Whatever the fabric, look for a tight weave, according to studies. Use the light test to check the weave: If you can easily see the outline of the individual fibers when you hold up the mask to the light, it’s not likely to be effective.

You can also add filters to your fabric mask, according to the CDC. Some are made from polypropylene, the plastic that produces static cling; others from silver or copper, which have antimicrobial properties. Studies on the effectiveness of inserts, however, are rare, so guidance is limited.

To up their odds, people have begun layering fabric masks over surgical ones for added protection.

President Joseph R. Biden has been seen wearing two masks on numerous occasions. On Inauguration Day, Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten Glezman, took a selfie double-masking and inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wore a surgical mask beneath her Prada version.

It’s a behavior advocated by Joseph Allen, an associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the director of the school’s Healthy Buildings program.

“A surgical mask with a cloth mask on top of it can get you over 91% removal efficiency for particles,” Allen recently told Dr. Gupta’s team.

It makes good sense to double mask, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, now chief medical adviser to Biden.

“If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective and that’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.” Fauci told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.

But pay attention to fit on any mask, Allen told CNN last fall. “You want the mask to go over the bridge of the nose, below the chin and be flush on the face, resting along the skin.”

Face shields, bandanas, gaiters, ski masks and scarves

Certain items fail to provide a sufficient barrier against Covid-19 and other viruses and should not be worn as a means of significant protection, according to the CDC.
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Don’t wear scarfs or knitted ski masks as a protective measure, the CDC says. Do not wear a face shield without a mask, the agency advises, as it won’t protect against tiny airborne droplets that can float under and inside the shield. And forget bandanas and neck gaiters.

In fact, gaiter masks, also known as neck fleeces, actually increased the transmission of respiratory droplets.

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Why Black Americans arent being vaccinated for COVID-19 at the same rate as whites – Yahoo News

https://news.yahoo.com/why-black-americans-arent-being-vaccinated-for-covid-19-at-the-same-rate-as-whites-225217711.html

Why Black Americans arent being vaccinated for COVID-19 at the same rate as whites - Yahoo News
Why Black Americans arent being vaccinated for COVID-19 at the same rate as whites - Yahoo NewsWhy Black Americans arent being vaccinated for COVID-19 at the same rate as whites - Yahoo News

Early data on the rollout of the vaccines for COVID-19 shows that minority populations in the United States already disproportionately affected by the pandemic are not being immunized at the same rate as white Americans.

Yahoo News Medical Contributor Dr. Uché Blackstock believes there are multiple factors contributing to this disparity.

“One of the problems that I saw very early on is that if you’re going to have mostly hospitals and pharmacies dispensing the vaccine, we’re going to miss a lot of people,” Blackstock said. According to recent research from GoodRX, minority communities tend to have fewer pharmacies per capita, which puts them at a disadvantage based on where they live.

This photo from Sunday Oct. 25, 2020, in New York, shows Dr. Uché Blackstock, an emergency medicine physician and CEO of Advancing Health Equity— an organization advancing equity and justice in healthcare, has been sounding the alarm bell for years about racial inequality in health care. (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)This photo from Sunday Oct. 25, 2020, in New York, shows Dr. Uché Blackstock, an emergency medicine physician and CEO of Advancing Health Equity— an organization advancing equity and justice in healthcare, has been sounding the alarm bell for years about racial inequality in health care. (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)
Dr. Uché Blackstock, a Yahoo News medical contributor and CEO of Advancing Health Equity. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

“We need to bring the vaccines to the people,” Blackstock added, suggesting that mobile vaccination units could help increase access in areas where transportation is an issue.

In 16 states that have released preliminary data on who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, white residents were more likely to have received a shot than Blacks, KHN news reported. In Pennsylvania, data through Jan. 14 showed that while 1.3 percent of whites in the state had received a vaccination, just 0.3 percent of Black residents had. In Mississippi, 1.3 percent of African Americans residents have been vaccinated so far, compared with 3.5 percent of white residents.

While there are numerous factors that might account for the early discrepancy in the rate of vaccination, Blackstock thinks the pattern will hold.

“It’s the same thing that people said at the beginning of the pandemic, when there was incomplete data that showed that Black and Latinx people were also being infected and hospitalized and dying at higher rates. But then once we got the complete data it confirmed the initial data, like we already know which communities are vulnerable,” Blackstock said.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via getty images)Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via getty images)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a news conference on Monday. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty images)

African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans die from COVID-19 at nearly three times the rate as white Americans, according to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These minority groups are also about four times as likely to be hospitalized with the coronavirus as white Americans are.

“If we’re seeing these trends at the beginning, I think now is an opportunity to respond to that data, right?” Blackstock said of the rollout of the vaccine. “To direct our efforts, according to the data. And so we’re seeing these trends this early on, we can actually try to course-correct.”

On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki spoke of the challenge of meeting President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 1 million Americans every day for the next 100 days.

“It’s not just about having supply, which is pivotal, of course. It’s also about having more people that can physically put the shots into the arms of Americans and ensuring that we have places that that can be done,” Psaki said.

Healthcare workers administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents living in the Jackson Heights neighborhood at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church on January 10, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)Healthcare workers administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents living in the Jackson Heights neighborhood at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church on January 10, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
A health care worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 10 in Tampa. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Biden has often spoken about the need for an equitable pandemic response. On his first day in office, he signed an executive order stating that “the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated severe and pervasive health and social inequities in America” and directing federal agencies to coordinate a response.

Blackstock said another factor contributing to preliminary low vaccination rates among African Americans is vaccine skepticism, which she attributed to a long-standing pattern of discrimination against minorities by the medical establishment. But she believes there are ways to combat that mistrust.

“I think, with that issue, what needs to happen is we need health care professionals and those communities to be able to have conversations with their patients about the vaccine and to answer those questions,” she said, adding that those one-on-one efforts should be bolstered by a national public health campaign to promote vaccines.

“We need to see [it] on buses and trains and billboards, social media, commercials on TV,” Blackstock said. “We need to see information out there about the vaccine, why it’s important for people to take it, and to see positive imagery around speaking of vaccines. We have not seen that at all.”

Residents wait in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church on January 10, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)Residents wait in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church on January 10, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
People waiting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 10 in Tampa. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Last, Blackstock noted that some minority communities don’t have access to or proficiency with the technology required by some health systems to register for an appointment to be vaccinated.

“If you have the vaccines there, but people from the community are not able to get appointments because of the cumbersome process for signing up for a vaccine … then the people who need the vaccine aren’t going to get it right,” Blackstock added. “And we’re going to reinforce the inequities that we’ve already seen in the pandemic.”

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