5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19 - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SURVIVAL

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

You’re stuck at home, mail is at the ready, so why not get rolling on some home improvement projects that have long since been pushed to the backburner? After all, you finally have the time! Put this quarantine to good use!


Organize

Start by organizing. If you haven’t already Marie Kondo’d your entire house, now is a good time to start. Order new organizing bins online for new gear that comes from a safe distance. Just be sure to thank your delivery person by staying at least six feet away from them and their good deeds.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

Start painting

Next, you can paint! Home improvement brands are offering entire kits that come to your house, while local stores allow you to do a curbside pickup for all the necessary gear. If you own your home or have permission from the owner, paint away. Interior walls and decks make great afternoon projects. However, if you live on post, you’re better off sticking to DIY furniture remodels.

Yard work

Landscaping is another great way to spend the day. Improve your home and enjoy the outdoors by planting flowers, adding rock, pulling weeds or even planting a garden. Better yet, you can spruce up your curb appeal, even when living on post.

DIY projects

It’s time to get your Pinterest on and start tackling your favorite projects. Everything you’ve been wanting to do, now is the time. Luckily, craft stores, too, are offering curbside pickup. Or order online and find some potential extra savings.

Simple repairs

Finally, take a look at all the repair work you’ve been avoiding. Sure, these projects aren’t fun … that’s why you’ve avoided them in the first place. But think how accomplished you’ll feel once your home is back in working order.

What home projects have you completed during quarantine?

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Coronavirus stimulus checks: Everything military families need to know

As the United States continues to battle the spread of the coronavirus, the federal government has passed legislation that will send stimulus checks to most tax paying Americans, including military families.

These stimulus checks are a part of a massive $2 trillion effort to not only assist Americans who are financially struggling amidst this time of layoffs, furloughs, and social isolation, but also to inject funding directly into businesses around America that are continuing to employ people throughout this chaotic time.


The payments heading directly to American families in the coming weeks are projected to reach nine out of 10 households in the country, which means military families can count on receiving these payments despite the military itself not suffering the same sorts of layoffs and reduced employment found elsewhere in the nation. This money can be used to help offset lost spouse income, the cost of buying essential cleaning materials, and the cost of being stuck in your homes on base or elsewhere.

Service members that are suffering financial hardship as a result of being caught between duty stations while executing orders at the time of the Pentagon’s stop-movement order are eligible for other financial assistance provided through the Defense Department. Those payment have nothing to do with the coronavirus stimulus checks the Treasury Department will soon be sending.

So who, exactly, is eligible for a stimulus payment and how much can they expect to receive? We break it all down below.

How much will I receive in my coronavirus stimulus check?

Stimulus payments are based on the recipient’s adjusted gross income, so the Treasury Department can prioritize payments to Americans that are most in need. It’s important to note that basic entitlements like BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) and BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) are not included in your family’s adjusted gross income. Only taxable income (basic pay) is taken into account for tax purposes.

You can find up to date info on the IRS webpage here.

Coronavirus stimulus payments include:

  • A maximum id=”listicle-2645620124″,200 per adult
  • Up to ,400 for couples who make up to ,000
  • An additional 0 per each child that is 16 or younger
5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

However, at a certain income level, the payments begin to reduce until a certain point, in which they stop completely.

  • Those who make over ,000 per year individually will see payments reduced by for each 0 in their Adjusted Gross Income over the ,000 cap.
  • Individuals who make over ,000 per year will not receive a payment
  • Couples filing jointly who make more than 8,00 per year will not receive a payment
  • Those who file as “head of household” will not receive a payment if their income is about 2,500 per year
  • Dependent adults are not eligible for a payment, including college aged children and adults with disabilities

How does the government know how much money I make or how many kids I have?

The Treasury Department will be using 2018 tax returns to assess income level and dependents, as well as the direct deposit information for those who have it in order to deposit the stimulus checks.

What if my income was above ,000 in 2018, but has since dropped?

These payments are really just an advanced tax credit, so even if you don’t receive a payment because your 2018 taxes showed you as ineligible, you can still receive it as part of your tax return when you file your 2020 taxes.

Do I have to sign up or fill out forms to receive my stimulus payment?

As long as the IRS already has your bank account information from your 2019 or 2018 tax returns, all you have to do is sit and wait for the check to hit your account. However, if you have not yet filed your 2018 taxes, the IRS encourages you to do so as soon as you can, otherwise your payment may be delayed.

The IRS said that they will be building a portal to change direct deposit information in the coming weeks.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

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What if my family and I are stationed overseas?

As long as you meet the income requirements and have a social security number, you will still receive the payment regardless of where you are stationed.

Will I have to pay taxes on the stimulus payment?

No, these payments are technically considered a tax credit.

What if I don’t have direct deposit established for my taxes?

Your payment will come to you the same way a tax refund would, so if you don’t have a direct deposit account established with the IRS, the check will be mailed to you at the address listed on your tax return.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Marine is manufacturing weights in the U.S.A.

Grant Broggi has been struggling right alongside many other small business owners due to the worldwide pandemic. But there’s probably one big difference: He’s a Marine.

Broggi opened The Strength Co. in 2017 after receiving his Starting Strength Coach Certification in 2016. He opened his second gym location in southern California in January 2019 and was getting ready to open his third location when COVID-19 hit the United States, forcing business closures due to quarantine mandates. “I always thought if it [a pandemic] came, it would be bad. I also knew I had a responsibility to my coaches and the members…I’ve faced harder things than this, but this is a pretty prolonged hard thing,” he explained.


Going through training within the Marine Corps definitely prepared Broggi for the pandemic. “In Marine Officer School the number one thing said is, ‘Make a decision, lieutenant!’ it might be wrong or right, but you have to make a decision,” he said. When the quarantine mandate came down, he didn’t simply close his doors and wait.

Broggi jumped into action.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

“Any hesitation and you lost speed and tempo…I had a bunch of members but only 16 squat racks. I had made squat racks in the Marine Corps, so we started cranking those out and giving them out for free to members.” Broggi’s company also adapted and started offering online strength classes to keep their members engaged. But he wanted to do more and when he couldn’t get the equipment for them, he decided to make it himself.

Broggi’s gym then began manufacturing racks for members.

“I started buying steel and went to a welder. It was always very clear to me that it had to be done. The only way now it seems is to invest more and double down…People asked me why I was manufacturing, I would just say people need to keep lifting. I think it’s important for their survival and is good for them – especially now,” Broggi said. The Strength Co.’s overall mission is to use barbell training to help people get strong for life – mentally and physically.

He credits his team for their strength as well, saying that because everyone truly follows the concept of strength for health and survival – they’ve been able to adapt and keep going in the midst of the pandemic.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

“Now more than ever, people are dealing with adversity daily in their own homes and cities. There’s unrest in American cities that just blows my mind,” he shared. With the country beginning to feel the negative mental health effects of continued quarantine and social distancing measures, Broggi sees the negative impact it’s having every day. He continued, “It can’t be underplayed on how people are feeling. They are not prepared for this… When we get deployed, it’s what we signed up for and what we trained for. People aren’t trained for this. I think people just needed leadership, they are scared. A lot of what we do is to try to bring positivity back,” Broggi said. Keeping people connected and engaged is difficult without the ability to open his gyms as the cases of COVID-19 continue to soar in California, but Broggi remains committed to finding ways to be innovative in helping people continue to train and build strength.

Sometimes Marines themselves need a little strength coaching, too. Even with the Marine Corps having one of the toughest and longest basic training around, he said he was still surprised when he took leadership of his first group of Marines in 2012.

“I got my first unit in the Marine Corps…I remember looking at them the first time thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Of course, Marines are scrappy no matter what – so I started coaching them. We had less people going to med or falling out on hikes and we had a more prepared unit by the end of it. That really resonated with me, that this [building strength] is preparing you for life or an uncertain event,” he shared. When he and his unit deployed to Afghanistan, they didn’t stop training either.

They just got creative.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

“We had weights on a wooden platform, it was very hodge-podge. We hung a big whiteboard and it had every Marine’s name on it. It’s not just about being competitive, it’s the achievement and hard work that matters,” Broggi said. When he returned stateside and went into the reserves, he knew he wanted to continue teaching and helping people develop their own strength.

Fast forward to now, owning two gyms during a global pandemic. Broggi continues to think and power forward like he was trained to as a Marine. Not only is the company making squat racks, benches, deadlift mats and all American leather weightlifting belts, but now they are having ‘Made in USA’ cast iron Olympic weights being manufactured in Wisconsin.

“I think we are all cut from the same cloth in terms of the driving factor. That’s why I stayed in the reserves, it made me feel fulfilled even while launching the gyms,” Broggi said. He explained that most members of the Armed Forces seek that deep feeling of purpose and fulfilment. It’s something he hopes to bring to each of his gym members.

One workout at a time.

To learn about the Starting Strength method and The Strength Co., check out their website.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The mail must go through: Your questions answered about coronavirus and the mail

As America works quickly to find ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it might not always be easy to know which industries are being affected and in what ways. Restaurants are offering takeout, cable companies are giving rebates on data usage, and the mail… well, the mail is working just like it always has. And for good reason.

Some people have expressed concerns that the coronavirus known as Covid-19 seems to have a fairly long survival window on hard surfaces like kitchen counters, so it seems feasible that one could be exposed to Covid-19 through a letter or package they receive. Others have worried that isolation procedures could disrupt delivery of mail and other shipments. Fortunately, most of these concerns can be readily dismissed.


So, here are some frequently asked questions, along with expert-backed answers.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

Q:Is it safe to send and receive mail or packages amid the coronavirus outbreak?

A: Yes, according to the CDC and WHO.

Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has already considered our concerns about viral transmission through the mail. They point out that the likelihood that the virus could potentially survive throughout the duration of shipping is so small, there’s really no risk associated with sending or receiving packages.

“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC website reads.

The CDC aren’t the only ones saying mail is safe to send and receive. The experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) have echoed the CDC’s sentiments in their own releases.

“The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low,” the WHO said.
5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

Q: Are mail rooms shutting down at basic training?

A: No, and if that changes, we’ll let you know right away.

Sandboxx News’ close relationship with Sandboxx Letters gives us a unique insight into how the letters apparatus runs, and just how closely our friends on the Letters side of the business keep in touch with the mail rooms at basic training installations all around the country.

Sandboxx’s operations team have been working double time to keep open lines of communications with mail rooms around the force, making sure they’ll be the first to know if there’s an issue and relaying the updates to Sandboxx’s executive leadership, Customer Happiness team, and us at Sandboxx News.

“Under normal operations we call every mailroom that we ship to across all 5 branches of the military once a month,” explains Bobby Vigil, Sandboxx’s Operations Manager and a Marine Corps infantry veteran.
“Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have been calling mailrooms once a week and will continue doing so, so we can stay on top of any changes made to base operations.”

The mail printing procedure at Sandboxx is also particularly safe for a number of reasons. Most of the Sandboxx staff has switched to working remotely, so the operations crew has limited exposure to others. The process of printing and even stuffing the letters into envelopes is all handled by machines, so there’s very little chance for issues to arise.

Sandboxx Letters works with FedEx for to ensure rapid delivery. You can see what they’re doing to make sure packages get through on their site here.

Q: Will mail be delayed because of the coronavirus?

A: It isn’t now, but we’ll let you know if that changes.

It may be safe to send and receive letters, but many have found themselves wondering if letters will still reach their destination in a normal amount of time amidst all the changes businesses have made to minimize the spread of Covid-19.

At least for now, the answer is that things are progressing more or less as usual. Letters are still being delivered in the usual amount of time through the regular postal service, and most letters sent through Sandboxx will still reach basic training the next day, just like always.

Sandboxx Mailroom Update Concerning COVID-19

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Of course, this is one answer that may change over time. As America continues to manage this outbreak, some services may run into delays. Remember that if delays do come, they’re likely the result of ensuring the safety of the package carriers.

If any changes do arise pertaining to coronavirus and the mail, Sandboxx News will keep you informed, just like we do with basic training changes, Covid-19 testing requirements from Tricare, and PCS changes.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


MIGHTY HUMOR

Watch: This episode of ‘Cheers’ hilariously nails the pandemic cleaning panic

One of the benefits of quarantine is catching up on every single television show ever made. There’s nothing better than revisiting some of the classics and clearly, Cheers has to make that list. What’s extra entertaining is when these 40-year-old shows accurately predict the future (like these M*A*S*H episodes).

In episode five of season one, Cheers absolutely nails it.


In this episode, titled “Coach’s Daughter,” customer Chuck (played by Tim Cunningham) sits at the bar and tells bartender Sam (Ted Danson) and the Cheers’ regulars that he has a new job at a biology lab. He shares his anxiety about working with mutant viruses and the reaction from the Cheers’ crew couldn’t be any more fitting to what we are experiencing with COVID-19.

Cheers Coronavirus

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Cheers Coronavirus

Cheers ran from 1982 through 1993 with 275 half-hour episodes. Although it was almost cancelled early on, it made it an impressive 11 seasons. Set in a bar in Boston, visiting the friendly location on the airwaves became a weekly household staple, with everyone wanting to visit the place, “Where everybody knows your name.” Cheers earned 26 Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards and many other accolades. It remains one of the best shows in history.

Cheers had several episodes with military-connected plots, although none better than “One for the Book,” which aired December 9, 1982. In this iconic episode, two customers enter the friendly neighborhood establishment, and of course their paths should meet. One is Buzz Crowder played by Ian Wolfe.

Buzz and his buddies from WWI agree to meet every 10 years for a reunion, but just as we see with our WWII veterans present day, Buzz’s peers are dwindling. In this episode, Buzz is the last one left. Luckily for him, you may walk into Cheers alone, but you’ll never leave without making friends. In “One for the Book,” that friend happens to be a young man getting ready to head to the monastery and looking for a night of fun before he becomes a monk.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

Photo: Cheers, NBC Universal

While Cheers ran on NBC, all 275 episodes are now available for streaming on CBS All Access. Start today and we’re confident you can finish the series before the end of quarantine. Or, let’s be honest, by the end of the week.

Cheers!

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

‘Terrible, tragic mistake:’ Top general warns enemies not to test US military readiness

The Pentagon’s top leaders said Thursday they can see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed that the U.S. military remains a force in readiness, with fewer than 2,000 cases out of more than two million troops available to support contingency operations.

During an internet broadcast Thursday morning, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned adversaries that it would be a “terrible, tragic mistake if they thought that … [they] can take advantage of any opportunities … at a time of crisis.”


“The U.S. military is very, very capable to conduct whatever operations are necessary to defend the American people,” Milley said. “We will adapt ourselves to operating in a COVID-19 environment. We are already doing that.”

As of Thursday, 1,898 service members had confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 389 soldiers, 367 airmen, 164 Marines, 597 sailors and 381 National Guard members.

Given that the Defense Department has 2.3 million troops, including the National Guard and reserve components, the services are “ready today and will be ready tomorrow,” Milley said.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

“I’m absolutely confident that we are very ready to handle any mission that comes our way,” added Defense Secretary Mark Esper during the broadcast. “Why is that? It’s because our commanders and NCOs have taken measures to protect our members.”

Less than .09 percent of U.S. forces have confirmed COVID-19 infections, and nearly all are “mild or moderate” cases, according to Esper. Sixty-four service members have been hospitalized for the coronavirus.

By contrast, .13 percent of the U.S. population have confirmed cases of the illness.

“We also have far, far, far smaller numbers of hospitalizations. …. I attribute that to the measures we took very early on, going all the way back to 3 February when we issued our first guidance to the field in regard to health protection,” Esper said.

According to Esper and Milley, the DoD has more than 50,000 service members responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes 29,400 National Guard members, as well as 17,000 members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and thousands of military medical personnel.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said Thursday that many of the military medical personnel are now serving in civilian hospitals, filling in for staff members who have become ill or need rest — especially in hard-hit areas like New York City.

The strategy is a switch from the initial intent for military health professionals to treat patients transported to field hospitals such as the Javits Center in New York, he said.

“We have thousands of reservists — medical professionals — deployed all over the country from their normal lives at home to the middle of New York City, in hours or days, leaving their families, leaving their homes, running toward the trouble,” Hyten said.

To date, 113 service members of the 1,898 infected have recovered from the coronavirus. One service member, Army National Guard Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, died March 28.

A sailor from the carrier Theodore Roosevelt became gravely ill Thursday and was transported to an intensive care unit after being discovered unresponsive in his room by shipmates, Hyten said.

“We are hoping that the sailor recovers. We are praying for him and his families and his shipmates,” he added.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Is Your Mental Health Declining During the Pandemic? You Are Not Alone…

For quite some time I have joked that God thinks I am hard of hearing and that He needs to scream at me to get a message. Case in point, this year I picked rest as my word of the year. I thought I needed to figure out how to slow down, enjoy the moment, not over-commit myself to so much. Somewhere around late February, after I’d committed to yet another summer camp teaching position, it must have become apparent to God that I was not following through on my word of the year. So, what does He do? He shut down EVERYTHING to make sure I have to rest and slow down. All I could do after getting the call that I would be switching to digital teaching and be at home, alone, for an undetermined amount of time was look up at the heavens and laugh. Well played, God.


All joking aside, when the pandemic and quarantine first began, I was a little nervous. Not only am I really bad at slowing down (hence the neon sign from God to do so), but I am also not great at being alone a lot. I was just starting to feel like I had my feet back under me after the divorce and had almost mastered cooking for one again. But I wasn’t quite prepared to be in my own company, and my own head, all day. I am by nature a very social person. I teach. I have 85 kids a day to educate and interact with. During my planning period I am usually visiting with other teachers and walking laps around the school to get my steps in. I am active in my church and on a coed softball team that is more family than just team. I had finally started to tiptoe into dating. And all the sudden, all of that had to stop. It was not a good feeling.

As I looked at my friends that have spouses and kids, I could joke that I was thankful my only company was a dog that doesn’t talk, but truly, I was lonely and struggling. I didn’t feel like I could say that because we were quarantining for a good purpose. It was a safety-for-all thing that I understood. My anxiety and mental health issues didn’t want to get on the same page with me though. I was envious of those that had a spouse to interact with when I was home alone with no human contact for weeks on end. I was trying to pretend like it was great being able to eat popcorn for dinner in my undies since there was no one to judge me on my behavior. I let my friends vent about how lucky I was not to have kids, so I didn’t have to educate and entertain at the same time. I could put on the happy face and lighthearted social media posts with the best of them. At least for a while.

About a month into quarantine I had a phone appointment with my mental health doctor and finally everything spilled out. How isolated I felt. How lonely I was. How scared I would get some days at the idea of going to the store even though I wanted to get out of the house and feel normal for a moment or two. I was able to babble and cry and express how hard it was to be alone with my thoughts all the time. I was sure she was going to tell me I was overreacting and that when this was all over, I’d feel foolish for making such a big deal about things. I mean, I was feeling pretty crazy!

Lucky for me she is a better shrink than I am a patient!

She told me that if I wasn’t feeling out of sorts, she would be far more worried about me. She reminded me that this is an abnormal situation that no one was prepared to take on and that anyone who wasn’t getting a little emotional about the upheaval of their life would be an anomaly. She reminded me that dealing with anxiety was already a hard enough challenge for me, so it was completely understandable that my brain may be going into overdrive about even the smallest things right now trying to find what I consider normalcy in the chaos. And she reminded me that I’m not alone. I may be lonely, but I have a network of family, friends, colleagues, and mental health professionals that are just a call away when things get to be too much to handle.

Once my brain was able to process all of the things we talked about I was finally able to open up to my friends about my struggles and it was amazing to me how many of them felt the same way. I know I’m not the only one out there struggling. So many of us are alone for one reason or another. Maybe your spouse is deployed during this crazy time and you are not just alone, but now unsure when homecoming will ever come. Maybe you’re an essential worker that is camping out at work to protect your family from germs you could potentially bring home. Maybe you’re in the post-divorce phase where you’re trying to figure out who you are on your own again. Whatever the reason, you may be lonely, but know you are not alone. Reach out to your friends, your family, your coworkers that you trust. Let them know you are struggling. You will be surprised by how many of them might understand better than expected what it means to be all on your own during such a scary time. And if talking with them is not enough, there are so many mental health resources available to you now. Take advantage of them and let a professional walk you through the chaos until you feel a bit more grounded. There is nothing wrong with admitting you need that help. Trust me on that.

Mental Health America – Provides resources for finding local mental health professional, digital outreach, and care specific to your living situation.

Veterans Crisis Line – Call 1-800-273-8255 press 1, or text 838255, to get help from someone trained to help the veteran community.

Crisis Text Line – Text 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The website also has articles and advice for those just looking for coping techniques but that do not want to talk to someone yet.

American Psychological Association – Provides resources for finding local mental health professional, digital outreach, and care specific to your living situation.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Russia joins China in search for vaccine as virus outbreak spreads

Russia says it has received the genome of the coronavirus from China and is working jointly with its neighbor to develop a vaccine against the illness as the number of deaths and confirmed cases continues to jump.

Chinese authorities said on January 29 that there are 5,974 confirmed cases nationwide in the country, from which 132 people have died.

Another 9,239 suspected cases of the respiratory illness are being monitored, the government’s National Health Commission said on January 29.


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Dozens of cases have been confirmed outside mainland China as well, including in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and elsewhere in Asia, prompting Russia, which has no confirmed cases, to join the race to stop the illness.

“Russian and Chinese experts have begun developing a vaccine,” the Russian consulate in China’s Guangzhou Province said in a statement on its website.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it believes China is able to contain the coronavirus, but mounting concern over the jump in cases has prompted hundreds of foreign nationals to leave the provincial capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The total number of confirmed cases now surpasses that of SARS, another respiratory illness that killed more than 600 people worldwide in 2002-2003.

Symptoms of the new kind of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Authorities have sealed off access to 17 cities in Hubei Province, where the pathogen is believed to have originated and was first reported in December.

Australia plans to quarantine its 600 returning citizens for two weeks on Christmas Island, some 2,000 kilometers from the mainland.

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The European Union as well as countries including the United States, Japan, and South Korea are also repatriating their nationals.

British Airways has suspended bookings on its website for direct flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai until March.

The World Health Organization has recognized the outbreak as a national emergency but stopped short of declaring it an international one.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

James Ruvalcaba was the lead operational planner and Joe Plenzler was the public affairs officer for III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan. They were responsible for authoring the III MEF CONPLAN 5003 to protect all U.S. forces, their families, and Defense Department personnel in Japan. They are both retired Marine lieutenant colonels.

As former lead operational planners for the Biohazard Defense Contingency Plan for all military service members, their families and Defense Department employees in Japan, we noticed the strong possibility of a COVID-19 pandemic in early February of this year.

There are lessons to be learned from an earlier viral outbreak.


In response to the H5N1 or “bird flu” outbreak in 2005, President George W. Bush issued a National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (PI) that November.

Thirteen days later, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace issued a planning order (PLANORD) directing all combatant commanders to conduct execution-level planning for a DoD response to pandemic influenza.

The guidance was clear and broad: Develop a contingency plan that specifically addressed the three major missions of force health protection, defense support for civil authorities, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

As leaders of the planning efforts, we recruited medical experts and researched preventive health materials from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, and disease exposure control studies from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This 18-month planning effort included tabletop exercises with State Department officials and local government officials and resulted in a 650-page biohazard response plan for all Marine Corps forces in Japan.

The plan also involved the additional major mission of continuity of operations to ensure that local governments and military installations continued to provide essential and emergency services during a pandemic.

The plan required all units and critical support agencies and businesses to classify their employees or service members as nonessential, essential or emergency-essential personnel.

The lessons we learned in this comprehensive 2005 planning effort are extensive, but they have not been fully implemented in response to COVID-19.

So what can policymakers, emergency medical responders and today’s planners learn from our plan?

Expect a “new normal” until a proven vaccine is developed. Social distancing measures and restrictions on mass gatherings must continue until the population has been vaccinated and the current COVID-19 virus is no longer a threat.

Just like we adapted to the post-9/11 terrorist attacks by instituting new security measures, we must also adapt to the pandemic by continuing social distancing measures until a proven vaccine has been developed, tested and administered to the entire global community. We must do this to avoid subsequent pandemic waves.

Our plan operated under the advice from health experts that a vaccine may take about a year to develop and that it will take months more for it to be readily available to the entire population. We recommend that the vaccine be prioritized and allocated first to medical responders and other personnel designated as emergency-essential responders. Local public health experts should draft immunization plans, to include the prioritization of immunizations to emergency-essential personnel.

The public should expect to experience additional shortages of medical equipment. We’ve seen the shortages of N95 masks, ventilators and ICU beds in hospitals; however, when restrictive measures are eased or lifted, our planning revealed that there will be a huge demand for infrared thermal detection systems (IR thermometers) in order to conduct public health febrile surveillance — especially prior to boarding flights or mass transportation. The post-pandemic environment will most likely involve febrile screenings to ensure viral threats are contained.

5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

Ongoing surveillance and contact tracing are extremely critical after the first pandemic wave is contained to a manageable level, in order to prevent a second wave or spreading it to another region. We should leverage technology in our smartphones to self-report if we have been in contact with infected people. China successfully implemented these protocols in Wuhan province through a phone app.

The demand for mortuary services may exceed available capacity. Additionally, new protocols must be established for conducting funerals.

Public Service Announcements are critical to shape public action to comply with evolving restrictive measures implemented by public health officials. Additionally, PSAs alleviate fear and anxiety by providing reassurance and critical educational material to assist the public in helping to contain and reduce the pandemic. Simply stated, PSAs help to reset the expectations of the evolving crisis and the associated escalatory or de-escalatory restrictive measures.

A pandemic may produce a second wave after the first outbreak, and sometimes even a second cycle outbreak after a few seasons. This is due to previously undetected pockets of viral outbreaks, a lapse in compliance to restrictive measures, the reintroduction of the virus from an external source, or the possibility of the virus mutating gradually by antigenic drift, or abruptly by antigenic shift. It is important for medical responders, public officials and the public to understand that we must not let our guard down when we start seeing a reduction in the transmissibility of the COVID virus or a reduction in the number of people infected.

We cannot lean on unfounded messages of hope; rather, we should look to science and condition-based assessments to decide when to ease or lift restrictive measures. The message to policymakers and high-ranking preventive health officials is clear: Demand science-based justifications for lifting restrictive measures.

For all that have closely tracked the evolution of this COVID-19 virus from its initial outbreak to a pandemic, the writing on the wall is obvious: National leaders made grave mistakes by not taking the threat seriously.

The lack of early mitigation has now cost us more than 427,000 sick Americans, more than 14,000 deaths and more than .3 trillion.

Our nation is paying a terrible cost for not taking this pandemic seriously enough, early enough. We must act in earnest to implement these lessons to help contain the viral spread so we can safely ease the restrictive measures while preventing a second pandemic wave or subsequent pandemic cycle.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

Jackbox Games with friends will turn your quarantine frown upside down

While it might feel like 2020 has already lasted seven or eight decades, extended stay-at-home orders are going to make this year feel a whole lot longer and lonelier. Nothing like looking at an empty calendar for the next few weeks until… indefinitely. Womp. But here to brighten your social life is Jackbox Games. Everyone’s favorite TV party game just got an even better twist: you can play it together, remotely.
5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

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Jackbox Games has a multitude of interactive, hilarious games that will keep you guessing and laughing for hours. From drawing and guessing games like Drawful to Murder Trivia and everything in between, Jackbox is a fan favorite on Friday nights in our friend group when we’re together – so we’re ecstatic we can now play while we’re all apart.

According to the Jackbox Games website, there are multiple ways to connect:

If you feel confident about you and your fellow players’ internet connections, just hop on a videoconferencing service (like Zoom or Google Hangouts). Start a game on your laptop and use the screen sharing option so that players you’re on a call with can see the game. Everyone can play along on their own mobile devices by using a browser and going to Jackbox.tv. If you’re having difficulty with getting out of full screen mode in the game to get back to your video conferencing screen, go to the game’s settings in the main lobby and turn off “Full Screen Mode.”

If you’re a Steam fan, you can skip the videoconferencing step and use Steam Remote Play Together. This feature allows you to share your local co-op games online with friends. Using Remote Play Together, only one person needs to own a copy of a Jackbox Games title. Up to four players (or more with faster internet connections) can join. You can find instructions for how to get started here.

Discord screen sharing can also be a great option if you’re playing on a laptop. You and up to nine of your Discord friends can connect and have both the game and video enabled. You’ll want to see your friend’s face when they’re lying about being an alien in Push The Button. Learn more here.

Some consoles also have screen share or co-stream abilities as long as you’re playing with someone who also owns that platform. For example, if you’re friends with someone else on Xbox One, co-streaming lets you and up to three friends merge your screens into one single Mixer broadcast. Instead of streaming, many people have set up an additional webcam in front of their TV as an easier option.

When sharing these ways, we recommend wired internet connections when possible!

How to Play Games with Friends During the COVID-19 Outbreak | Discord Setup

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Let’s Play Jackbox!

Quarantine is hard enough. Make it easier on everyone with something to look forward to on Friday nights. Or Tuesdays. Fine, any night of the week.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This ‘Front Porch Project’ of military families in quarantine is everything

When military spouse Ashley Salas heard about the “front porch project,” she knew it was something she had to do. “As soon as my friend showed me this idea, I decided to go for it,” Salas said on her company Facebook page. “I reached out on my neighborhood page and had people message me their address. I had 76 families. 76!!!!”

The idea behind the project is simple: photograph families on their front porch in this era of social distancing and quarantine. Salas plotted a route and off she went.


“I went house to house… jumping in and out of my car, about 1 minute per house, and took a photo for them to cherish because you know what? THE WORLD IS SCARY right now,” Salas shared on Facebook. “We are quarantined to our homes. We are asked to social distance from each other. We are asked to be safe, wash hands, and take this seriously.

We can all do our part and stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands. Keep your distance… but always love your neighbor.”

The results are magnificent. Some sweet, some hilarious, all incredible memories for these families and Salas.

What a memory I’ll cherish forever. And when it was over, I cried… so many emotions, but this night gave me so much joy for everyone.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Ashley Salas Photography

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Our spirit animals

The toilet paper, the wine, the screaming dad. Pretty sure we can all relate to this one.

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The T-Rex

“Wash your hands!” one signs admonishes. And of course, the T-Rex, with “I can’t!”

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The health care worker

Talk about pulling at our heart strings. The FaceTime with the loved one in scrubs is particularly moving right now.

Ashley Salas Photography

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The deployed dad

Deployments are hard enough without a pandemic.

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The rockband

The family that plays together stays together! And mom has a giant glass of wine to handle the “music.”

Ashley Salas Photography

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#RealLife

I don’t think anyone is paying attention to screen time at this point.

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The birth announcement

We can’t think of a better way to announce a pregnancy!

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The rule followers

These cuties make social distancing look adorable.

Ashley Salas Photography

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World’s okayest mom

Two kids both smiling and alive? Looks like she’s killing it to me.

Ashley Salas Photography

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It’s getting windy in here

Don’t mind me, I’m just weeping in the corner.

We love everything about this project! To see all 76 of the front porch families, visit Ashley Salas Photography on Facebook.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

These are the 62 best COVID-19 memes on the internet

There’s nothing like government-imposed isolation to bring out the best and the worst in people. It’s time to take a break from the empty shelves, homeschooling, terrifying headlines (and harrowing reality) and the truly unprecedented times we’re currently living in and lighten the load with our favorite memes of COVID-19.

In seriousness, we know these are scary times. We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

And always wash your hands.


5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19

1. The milkshake


5 Home improvement tasks to take on during COVID-19
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MIGHTY SURVIVAL

It’s almost impossible to get COVID-19 on an airplane, new military study suggests

A new military-led study unveiled Thursday shows there is a low risk for passengers traveling aboard large commercial aircraft to contract an airborne virus such as COVID-19 — and it doesn’t matter where they sit on the airplane.

Researchers concluded that because of sophisticated air particle filtration and ventilation systems on board the Boeing 767-300 and 777-200 aircraft — the planes tested for the study — airborne particles within the cabin have a very short lifespan, according to defense officials with U.S. Transportation Command, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Air Mobility Command, which spearheaded the study.


“The favorable results are attributable to a combination of the airframes’ high air exchange rates, coupled with the high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration recirculation systems, and the downward airflow ventilation design which results in rapid dilution and purging of the disseminated aerosol particles,” Vice Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, deputy commander of U.S. Transportation Command, said during a virtual roundtable with reporters.

DARPA teamed up with biodefense company Zeteo Tech, scientific research company S3i and the University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) for the trials. Industry partners included Boeing and United Airlines.; the study was funded by TRANSCOM, according to Army Lt Col Ellis Gales, spokesman for the command.

“All areas on both aircraft proved to be extremely effective in dispersing and filtering out the aerosol particles,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Pope, TRANSCOM Operations directorate liaison for the airflow particle test. “So specifically, can I tell you to sit in seat XYZ? No; they all performed very well.”

During the tests, held Aug. 24-31, analysts released two types of aerosols that had specific DNA signatures. The tagged fluorescent tracers allowed for researchers to better follow their distribution path, both in flight and on the ground.

Sensors throughout the aircraft measured over 300 iterations of aerosol releases — at rates of 2 to 4 minutes — across four cabin zones on the 777, and three zones on the 767, Mewboourne explained. The dispersions were mapped in real-time, he said.

The particles were quickly diluted, however, and only remained detectable for fewer than six minutes on average, TRANSCOM said in the report. By comparison “a typical American home takes around 90 minutes to clear these types of particles from the air,” the command said.

While the more time spent on an aircraft correlates to a potential infection rate, according to the study, even passengers on long-haul flights wouldn’t be able to pick up a sufficient viral load under the test conditions. Passengers traveling on board the 777 would need to spend at least “54 hours when sitting next to an index patient in the economy section,” and more than 100 hours in the other cabins of both the 777 and the 767 to be exposed to an infectious dose, the study said.

Mannequins representing passengers were positioned throughout the aircraft, some wearing masks and some without. David Silcott of S3i and one of the authors of the report said the dispersed mannequins were part of both breathing and cough tests.

During the simulated cough tests, masked mannequins showed a “very, very large reduction in aerosol that would come out of [them], greater than 95% for most cases,” Silcott said. “It definitely showed the benefit of wearing a mask inflight from these tests.”

Pope said it is important to consider that the study was specific to aerosols and not ballistic droplets, those that are emitted while coughing, sneezing or breathing heavily.

That said, “the mask is very important in that the larger droplets that travel ballistically through the air will be caught by your mask,” Pope said. “And if you don’t have the mask on, then you cannot reduce those numbers of ballistic particles.”

Scientists also collected samples from surfaces like armrests and video screens, considered “high-touch” zones; the tests showed that while the distribution on surfaces was minimal, flat surface areas — like armrests — are more likely than vertical surface areas like seatbacks or screens to collect deposits of particles.

There are other caveats: The scientists didn’t try to simulate passengers freely moving about the cabin, moving around to switch locations or turning toward one another to have a conversation.

“While … we’re very encouraged by the results, that’s part of the reason why we’re making the results public, and sharing them with the scientific community so that that follow-on research can be done,” Pope said.

The study next heads into a peer review before its findings can be submitted for a scientific journal. TRANSCOM is examining the results, which could spur new travel policies or proposals, Pope said.

Following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, TRANSCOM identified an immediate need to move passengers in a safe manner, including high-risk patients as well as military members and families traveling aboard the Defense Department-contracted Patriot Express flights. The two Boeing aircraft used for the aerosol simulations are the aircraft most typically used for Patriot Express flights.

The officials stressed service members should still follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and airline protocols when boarding a flight.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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