Spooky season is here, but it feels a bit different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many places to cancel time-honored Halloween traditions, such as haunted houses and trick-or-treating this year, in following CDC safety guidelines. This means that families will have to come up with creative (and safe!) approaches to celebrating the beloved holiday this year.
Now here’s the good news: we’ve already thought of some fun ways for you and your family to celebrate!Here are some cute crafts and fun ideas that will make you forget that you can’t trick-or-treat this year:
Boo! your neighbors
If you want to spread some spooky fun around your neighborhood, consider putting together some Boo bags with your family!
Some items you can include in your “Boo” bags are:
The best part about this you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to spread some Halloween love in your neighborhood. You can find all of the items you to make my “Boo” bags and bucket at the dollar store or the Dollar Spot at your local Target.
Make some scary treats
Making desserts is a fun way to spend time together and get in the Halloween spirit. Try to come up with ways to make your favorite desserts a little more spooky – or, you can be like me and search Pinterest for ideas. My kids and I made these spooky monster cookies together and we had a blast doing it. You can make this activity even more fun by seeing who can make the spookiest monster cookie! Be sure to save a few and add them to your boo bags, too!
Flashlight scavenger hunt
No trick-or-treating? No problem! Let your kids get dressed up while you hide candy all over the house (or in your backyard!), turn out the lights, give your kids a flashlight, and let them hunt for their Halloween treats! They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even miss going door-to-door, and you can still collect your “parent tax” after.
Have a scary movie marathon in costume
After the scavenger hunt, get the family together on the couch to wind down and watch your favorite (family-friendly!) scary movies. They can eat some of the candy they found and the treats they made with you as movie snacks. Who knows, this may become your new family Halloween tradition. Win-win!
Make some spooky crafts together
Crafting is an essential part of every holiday – at least, in my house. My kids love any excuse to make something that they can proudly display and say, “I made that!” If you have little ones, you can do something as simple as purchase a small canvas and some paint from the dollar store and make something cute (and spooky!) with their hands and/or feet, or you can bust out the watercolors, the glue, some salt, and construction paper and let them make these awesome watercolor spiderweb crafts. Your family can also carve, and even paint, some pumpkins together. The possibilities are endless, and you can participate in the fun, too!
Not being able to trick-or-treat doesn’t have to mean that Halloween is ruined. Take this opportunity to create new traditions and memories with your family and close friends. Who knows, this could be the best Halloween season yet!
As New York faces its highest death rates so far from the coronavirus, the New York National Guard has stepped in to help collect dead bodies around New York City.
Around 150 National Guard soldiers are assisting New York City’s medical examiner in collecting bodies.
“National Guard personnel are working with members of the Medical Examiner’s Office to assist in the dignified removal of human remains when required,” the National Guard said in a statement.
“There are approximately 150 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen assisting with this mission,” it said. “The National Guard Soldiers are joined by 49 Soldiers assigned to the active Army’s 54th Quartermaster Company, now providing staff assistance to the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”
New York state is experiencing its highest death rates so far from the coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that the day prior, at least 799 people died in the state from the coronavirus.
NEW must read story from @pbmelendez and @MichaelDalynyc
w/ a striking photo, taken earlier this week, of the National Guard loading bodies into an Enterprise rental vanhttps://www.thedailybeast.com/nycs-coronavirus-death-toll-expected-to-surge-as-officials-include-deaths-at-home?ref=home …
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to uproot life around the world, it’s easy to feel, well, uneasy. After all, there are a lot of unknowns. But there are plenty of ways to arm yourself with proper information and feel a bit more grounded. Doctors, for instance, are all mandated to take state-mandated infection courses online. Available to the public, and free unless someone wants to take a test to pass, the courses offer a wealth of public information. While they are a bit of a slog to read (and nary an educational video in sight) they’re helpful for anyone who wants to know everything from if their bleach is strong enough to kill bacteria or how to put on gloves without covering them in germs.
So, which courses might be useful? One, administered by Access Continuing Education Inc., intended for doctors in New York State, and aptly (and drily) titled Infection Control: New York State Mandatory Training, contains a wealth of worthwhile information. The course isn’t like a typical virtual classroom — there are no teachers, no video sessions, and no mandated quizzes at the end. There are no hours required to finish the course and each ‘Element,’ a full-text article that reads about a page long, touches on a different process of how to limit transmission.
Is it an exciting read? No, but the pages are full of very, very important information, including hand washing technique, what the proper etiquette and technique is when coughing, and how to clean spills of bodily fluids. Other relevant information for parents within the text include what protective gear people can wear to limit transmission (including gloves, masks, and goggles) and how to put them on while also keeping them clean. The text also defines the different levels of sterilization and what recommended, medical grade sterilizers can be used and how to dilute bleach.
Now, a large chunk of the course does focus on safe usage of needles — which is not exactly relevant for parents and Coronavirus — but the text is free to read online for anyone who wants to be educated on best practices and how to stay safe. There’s a test at the end of the course, which does not need to be taken, obviously, as parents could just be reading this for their own information, but could be fun if you’re very, very bored.
The average parent won’t be using scalpels or lancets, but they can learn the differences between cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, learn how professionals limit potential exposure from patients when dealing with infectious diseases, and learn strategies for how to limit the spread of pathogens in the home and use those in their own spaces.
Knowledge, at a time like this, can be empowering. It can also be scary if that knowledge is not actionable. That’s why these courses are an excellent resource. They provide parents a sense of control of a situation over which no one has control. They can help parents do all that they can to help keep their families healthy. And that is what it will take to limit the spread of this disease: serious, educated action, social distancing, and disinfecting.
One of the strange perks to quarantine is the seemingly normal interaction the world is having with celebrities. Folks who are used to being on tour, in studios all the time and on shows, are now just as bored as the rest of us.
Sure, they might be less bored in their 7,000 square foot home than we are in our “more humble” abodes, and maybe the walls don’t feel like they’re closing in on them because they can stroll their seemingly endless grounds or swim in their infinity pool, but you get the point.
For today’s viewing pleasure, it’s none other than the legend himself, Neil Diamond, strumming his guitar with his dog by his fireplace and rewriting the lyrics to the classic, “Sweet Caroline.”
Neil Diamond changes lyrics to “Sweet Caroline” in coronavirus PSA
Neil Diamond changes lyrics to “Sweet Caroline” in coronavirus PSA
Neil Diamond is doing his part to promote steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – and he found a creative way to do it.
In case you couldn’t love Diamond any more, here’s a fun fact for you: He’s a military brat. According to IMDb:
Neil Leslie Diamond was born in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York City, on January 24, 1941. His father, Akeeba “Kieve” Diamond, was a dry-goods merchant. Both he and wife Rose were Jewish immigrants from Poland. The Diamond family temporarily relocated to Cheyenne, Wyoming, because of Kieve Diamond’s military service during World War II. During their time in Wyoming, Neil fell in love with “singing cowboy” movies on matinée showings at the local cinema. After the end of World War II, Neil and his parents returned to Brooklyn. He was given a acoustic guitar for a birthday gift, which began his interest in music. At age 15 Neil wrote his first song, which he titled “Here Them Bells”.
At Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall High School, Neil sang in the 100-member fixed chorus, with classmate Barbra Streisand, although the two would not formally meet until over 20 years later. Neil and a friend, Jack Packer, formed a duo singing group called Neil Jack, and they sang at Long Island’s Little Neck Country Club and recorded a single for Shell Records. The record failed to sell, however, and the duo soon broke up.
In 1958 Neil entered New York University’s pre-med program to become a doctor, on a fencing scholarship. Medicine did not catch his interest as much as music did, though, and he dropped out at the end of his junior year, only 10 credits shy of graduation. He Diamond went to work for Sunbeam Music on Manhattan’s famous Tin Pan Alley. Making a week, he worked at tailoring songs to the needs and abilities of the company’s B-grade performers. Finding the work unrewarding, Neil soon quit. Renting a storage room in a printer’s shop located above the famed Birdland nightclub on Broadway, Neil began to live there and installed a piano and a pay telephone, and set about writing his songs his own way.
A chance encounter with the songwriting/record producing team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich led to a contract with Bang Records. In 1966 he recorded his first album, featuring hit singles such as “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry”. That same year Diamond appeared twice on Dick Clark‘s American Bandstand (1952) TV musical variety show. Also, The Monkees recorded several songs to which he wrote the music, including “I’m a Believer” which was a hit in 1967. A number of TV appearances followed, including singing gigs on The Mike Douglas Show (1961), The Merv Griffin Show (1962) and een a dramatic part as a rock singer on an episode of Mannix (1967). Filling a musical void that existed between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, Diamond found wide acceptance among the young and old with his songs, but endured criticism that his music was too middle-of-the-road.
Diamond split with Bang Records in 1969, and signed a contract with California’s Uni label, for which he recorded his first gold records. In 1970 he introduced British rock star Elton John in his first Stateside appearance at Hollywood’s Troubador nightclub. In December 1971 Diamond signed a -million contract with Columbia Records, which led to more recording contracts and live concert appearances. In 1972 Diamond took a 40-month break from touring, during which he agreed to score the film Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973). Although Diamond’s soundtrack for that film earned him a Grammy Award, it was a box-office failure. Despite having worked with an acting coach since 1968, and talk of a five-picture acting contract with Universal Studios, Diamond remained inhibited by shyness of being in front of a camera. He turned down acting roles in every movie contract he was offered (among them was Bob Fosse‘s Lenny (1974) and Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver (1976)). However, he did appear as himself with Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young in the 1978 documentary The Last Waltz (1978). He appeared at the 1977 Academy Awards where he presented Barbra Streisand the Oscar for Best Song.
In the summer of 1976, on the eve of three Las Vegas shows, Diamond’s house in Bel Air was raided by the police because they received an anonymous tip that there were drugs and weapons stored there. The police found less than an ounce of marijuana. To have the arrest expunged from his recored, Diamond agreed to a six-month drug aversion program. In 1977 he starred in two TV specials for NBC. He had a cancer scare in 1979, when a tumor was found on his spine and had to be surgically removed, which confined him to a wheelchair for three months. During his recuperation he was given the script for the lead role in a planned remake of the early sound film The Jazz Singer (1927). Signing a id=”listicle-2645805266″-million contract to appear as the son of a Jewish cantor trying to succeed in the music industry, Diamond was cast opposite the legendary Laurence Olivier and Broadway actress Lucie Arnaz. Despite the almost universally negative reviews of the film, it grossed three times its budget when released late in 1980. In 1981 Diamond’s hit single, “America”, which was part of the film’s soundtrack, was used on news broadcasts to underscore the return of the American hostages from Iran.
Aware of his lack of acting talent, Diamond never acted in movie roles again, aside from making appearances as himself. A movie fan, he collaborated on writing the scores of many different soundtracks, which can be heard in such films as Cactus Flower (1969), Pulp Fiction (1994), Beautiful Girls (1996), Donnie Brasco (1997), Bringing Out the Dead (1999) and many more. He continues to occasionally perform in concerts and write a vast catalog of music which is recored by both him and other artists.
In the United States, hospitals are facing shortages of medical grade masks, and have taken to social media to ask seamstresses nationwide if they can sew masks for them.
When Sarah Mainwaring, a military spouse and community advocate at Robins AFB heard about the plight of local hospitals, she devised a plan to fulfill the needs of both the military community and healthcare workers due to the (very) limited availability of medical masks. She enlisted the help of her neighbors and fellow military spouses, and they began gathering materials to begin sewing masks. They decided to take their movement public by involving the military community, and thus, Milspo Mask Makers was born.
Milspo Mask Makers is a growing community movement of active duty, guard, reservists, and military spouses that are dedicated to filling the needs of healthcare workers, the surrounding community, and the immunocompromised by sewing masks to help them protect themselves against COVID-19. These masks can be used by healthcare workers in the event of a shortage, or to prolong the life of their medical mask to be able to use it longer.
Through their efforts, the ladies at Milspo Mask Makers were able to come together and sew over 100 masks in their first 24 hours. They have since been joined by other spouses in their local community, and have distributed over 200 masks to date. Sarah has challenged the military community to sew 10,000 masks worldwide and distribute them to those in need. If you or someone you know is making masks, let Milspo Mask Maker know! Use the hashtag #MilspoMaskMaker when you post photos to social media.
Also, be sure to like their page on Facebook to keep up-to-date with their efforts, view tutorials on making masks, and to find out other ways you can contribute to the cause!
The first time I saw my child on a ventilator he was 30 minutes old. My second child earned his first intubation at six months. I cannot tell you the number of times I have sat in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with one of my two children sedated and medically paralyzed while a machine did their breathing for them.
After watching my children on a respirator, I’m begging you to please, stay home.
If you add up our total PICU stays, I have probably lived in a hospital — sleeping, showering, eating — yes, living, for over a year of my life.
When one of my sons was almost four years old, he was hospitalized with respiratory distress. The medical staff tried their hardest to avoid intubation. They threw a BiPAP machine on him in the ER and sent us to the PICU. BiPAP is like a CPAP machine that’s used for sleep apnea, but it allows patients to get more air in and out of their lungs. While neither of these devices might sound particularly alarming, remember that this isn’t someone who has trouble sleeping; this is my three year old.
The doctors quickly realized that this wasn’t enough. They told us they had to intubate and then quickly forgot we were there. Twenty people gathered in the hallway and in my son’s room. I knew I didn’t want to be there and usually they ask you to leave for this part, so I walked away. My husband did not.
To say the next part haunts his dreams is an understatement. They removed the BiPAP and without the pressure my son’s lungs closed instantly. It was the middle of the night. In the waiting room outside the PICU I watched out the window as every floor lit up with flashing blue lights and I heard the big voice in the sky calling “code blue PICU,” over and over. I watched as more people ran into the PICU.
Inside my husband watched as a PICU nurse jumped onto the table and sat on top of our son to pump his blood for him. He was gone.
Fortunately for us, PICU nurses and doctors are amazing and we were in arguably the best children’s hospital in the United States, if not the world. They saved him.
Quickly after they had him intubated and alive, the doctor came out to tell us that he qualified for a study where they would essentially freeze him to give his heart and brain time to recover, and they needed permission. It had to happen quickly if he didn’t show proper neurological function right away.
Because of these incredible men and women in the PICU, my son just turned 11 and he has no lingering issues from this episode.
This is a story from a time when there were enough ventilators and there were 50 doctors and nurses who were able to rush to my son and save him. With a growing critical shortage of ventilators in the United States, it hurts my heart to think about what it might be like if there wasn’t one available for my son. What it might be like for the family who loses their loved one. What it is like for the nurse giving CPR with no way to permanently save their patient.
This isn’t political; this is life or death. We must do everything in our power to provide these doctors and nurses with every piece of equipment and protective gear that they need. They needed these things yesterday, and today is not soon enough.
I tell you all this not just to scare you, but to scare the living daylights out of you. Stay in your house. I am happily sitting at home watching Netflix in my own bed while hugging my children. In the PICU, a child has so many wires attached to them that you’re afraid to touch your baby for fear of harming them.
So watch TV in your underwear at home, eat a piece of cake, and keep yourself, your babies, your grandma, your aunt, your neighbor and my babies safe.
Here we are, on quarantine day X-teenth, wondering when the world will once again open. Some states have already announced that certain businesses are open with restrictions, but for the overwhelming majority of the United States, we’re still operating from a distance. Kids are schooling from home, even parts of military training have been put on hold; soldiers are sheltering in place and working remotely.
Industry experts and politicians agree that the pandemic has been unprecedented, most notably by the fact that we don’t know when this thing will blow over.
Take a look at unpleasant events from the past, all of which were over in less time than the COVID-19 pandemic.
The category 5 hurricane that hit New Orleans back in 2005 was a devastating event. It’s one that had a particular effect on Marine forces in the area. Today, Katrina is being used as one of the biggest comparisons for economic turmoil, albeit still on a lesser scale.
The entire hurricane’s lifespan lasted eight days, while landfall lasted one, August 29of 2005. Hurricane Katrina was a deadly, horrific occurrence, but with an impact that was felt far longer than the disaster itself.
Another comparison of the effects of the pandemic are the months following 9-11. The dastardly terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers caused widespread loss and injury, as well as a trickling economic impact. But that’s not the only unfortunate similarity; New York City has become the epicenter for COVID-19, as were the 9-11 attacks.
The main events of September 2001 took place in less than two hours, while its horrific aftermath lasted far longer.
Another cruel attack that famously took place on U.S. soil is the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the day in 1941, which FDR famously said will live in infamy. Though it led to the United States joining World War II, the actual event, brought on in two waves by the Japanese, lasted a single morning.
The war itself, its heartache and gruesome side effects lasted far longer, including years of involvement by the United States.
San Francisco Earthquake
In 1906, the city of San Francisco was hit by one of the strongest earthquakes in modern history. Its location and magnitude, striking miles of the California coast, was grim for San Francisco in particular. The quake also caused massive fires to start and tear through the city, eventually destroying 80% of the entire town.
The quake itself was short lived, while the fires lasted for three days. Its devastation was felt for years following this single natural event.
The U.S. has seen its fair share of disasters. Together, we band and lift one another up to get through some truly awful times. Don’t forget all we’ve overcome in a time of pandemic and that as a country, we, again, can pull together and thrive.
Wuhan, China, evacuees being held at a military base in California drafted a petition demanding improvements to the CDC’s quarantine protocol after a person infected with the coronavirus COVID-19 was accidentally released from hospital isolation.
Passengers aboard a State Department-mandated evacuation flight from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have been quarantined at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar.
One passenger, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was accidentally released from isolation at UC San Diego Medical Center back to the air base on Monday. The woman was discharged prematurely after her results were mislabeled, per the CDC’s methodology to protect patients’ identities, local news station KNSD reported.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the woman and three others were discharged and on the way back to the base when it was discovered that three of four tests had not been processed yet.
“We decided, OK, we’re going to put these people in isolation in their rooms and instruct them not to leave, not to mingle with the general population there at Miramar base, and we’re going to wait for the results of those tests,” CDC official Dr. Christopher Braden told The Union-Tribune. “Well, of course, as luck would have it, it was one of those tests that came back positive.”
The woman’s symptoms were described as mild and she was not exposed to members of the public. The woman was not symptomatic before she went to the hospital for testing, so it’s unclear what impact if any it will have on the others in quarantine at the base. The three people she was transported with, however, will likely have to extend their quarantine time, The Union-Tribune reported.
Still those on the base are concerned about their overall safety. The petition from those in quarantine was written “in light of the first confirmed case at Miramar coupled with the current precautions taken at the center,” and the listed improvements were “critical measures toward mitigating the potential risk of spreading the virus at the Miramar Center.”
The five suggestions in the petition are as follows:
“Everyone in the facility be tested.
“Preventing the gathering of large numbers of people into small, enclosed environments; suggesting meals be delivered to the door and town hall meetings through conference calls.
“Periodic delivery of personal protective gear to each room, including masks and sanitizing alcohol for in-room disinfection.
“Provision of hand sanitizer at the front desk and in the playground.
“Disinfection of public areas two to three times a day, including playground, laundry room, door knobs, etc.”
“We really felt the need for these basic things to be addressed,” Jacob Wilson, who is being held at the airbase, told KNSD, “and we hope that the petition would at least be able to address these basic concerns.”
Wilson described what it was like under quarantine at the air base, saying the CDC recommended the residents stand six feet away from each other, but they are placed shoulder-to-shoulder for daily temperature checks, which he said “flies in the face of the protections and precautions.”
“We’re trying our best to disinfect things with the hand soap that we’ve been given, even though we don’t have disinfectant,” he told The Daily Beast. “We’re frustrated and worried.”
The 232 Wuhan evacuees arrived at MCAS Miramar on two flights — one on February 5 and the other on February 6. All passengers were subject to 14-day quarantines starting the day they left China.
Thus far there have been 14 cases reported in the US.
Another senior Iranian politician has died of the coronavirus amid reports that 8% of the country’s parliament has been infected.
Hossein Sheikholeslam, a diplomat and the country’s former ambassador to Syria, died Thursday, according to state news agency Fars. Sheikholeslam worked as an adviser to Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Sheikholeslam studied at the University of California, Berkeley, before the Islamic Revolution and later interrogated US Embassy staff members during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979.
Eight percent of Iran’s parliament has been infected with the coronavirus, including the deputy health minister and one of the vice presidents, according to CNN. Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, died in a hospital on Monday, a state-affiliated media organization said.
Tehran, Iran’s capital, subsequently barred government officials from traveling, and parliament has been suspended indefinitely.
As of Thursday, about 3,500 Iranians have been infected, and 107 have died from the disease, according to government officials, but the true totals are suspected to be higher.
Iran, along with China, is believed to be underreporting the rate of deaths and infections as it struggles to deal with the health crisis. Iran and Italy have the highest death tolls outside China, where over 3,000 people have died from the disease.
Iran has taken several measures to address growing concerns about the coronavirus, including temporarily releasing 54,000 prisoners from crowded jails.
The US State Department has offered assistance to Iran, but the country did not appear to be receptive.
“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers last week. “And we’ve made it clear to others around the world and in the region that assistance, humanitarian assistance, to push back against the coronavirus in Iran is something the United States of America fully supports.”
Iran responded to the aid by saying it would “neither count on such help nor are we ready to accept verbal help,” according to NBC News correspondent Ali Arouzi.
Should we send our kids back to school this fall? It’s a question that’s on every parent’s mind, regardless of which schools are re-opening. The big issue is one of children’s safety and COVID-19. But this poses many smaller questions to consider. How will the health of students and teachers be monitored? Are schools well ventilated and capable of proper sanitizing? Are school nurses prepared? How will they rearrange classrooms? Will masks be provided for students and teachers? What about some sort three-days-off, three-days-on hybrid of remote and in-person learning? Are buses and drivers ready for social distancing? Will schools help students who don’t have access to strong internet meet the requirements for remote learning?
There are no easy answers to any of these questions. The variables are too numerous; so are the unknowns. Yes, school districts across the country are working hard to create reopening plans and contingency plans should they not be able to. But, as we’ve learned over the past six months, COVID doesn’t really care about plans.
So, considering all this, what are parents thinking? We spoke to a dozen fathers about whether or not they’ll be sending their kids back to school in the fall. Some think that schools will meet standards and plan on sending their kids; others lack the confidence of the school and other families and plan on keeping their kids at home. There is no right or wrong decision here. Instead, there’s merely a long list of pros and cons that are allowing parents to make their best decisions as of right now. And, of course, those decisions could change tomorrow, or in a week, or on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. The only certainty right now is uncertainty.
Yes. The Schools Been Doing Everything Properly, So Far
“My son’s school — a private Catholic school — ran a summer camp during all of this, and I’ve been very impressed with the precautions they’ve taken to make sure everyone is safe. The kids, teachers and counselors all wash and sanitize every 10 or 15 minutes, and there’s not a surface in sight that isn’t wiped down or disinfected. All of the staff wears masks, and it’s clear that everyone is taking things seriously. If the camp is any indication of how a school day would run, I wouldn’t have any problem trusting them with my kids. They’ve shown me that health and safety are a top priority, which is more than I can say for a lot of other schools in the area.” – Chris, 34, Ohio
No. I Don’t Feel Confident At All.
“If I could reply to this question with that meme of Randy Jackson saying, ‘That’s gonna be a no from me, dawg’, I would. There are just too many variables in play to make me feel safe or confident. Even if all of the teachers wear masks, and sanitize everything, it literally only takes one negligent or selfish person to spread COVID to someone else, who can then bring it into the school. From there, it’d just be a catastrophe. I think that’s why I’d say no. I know most of the parents of kids in my daughter’s class, and I don’t trust them to take this all seriously.” – Josh, 35, Pennsylvania
I’ll Send My Kids Back If They Staff Up and Shrink Class Sizes
“I’ll send my kids back if the plan to shrink class sizes actually happens. That’s the only way I’ll feel safe. Right now, there are 25 kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Even without a pandemic, that’s more than enough sneezes, coughs, and booger wipes to spread germs across the entire room. There have been talks of splitting the class in half, which I’d be okay with. It seems manageable, and I feel like the school would take the sanitization and cleaning seriously. So, if they can staff up and find the space to make that plan happen, I’m good with it.” – Nathan, 29, Connecticut
I Don’t Think We’re There Yet
“I don’t think I can. If the school board is having virtual meetings to decide whether or not school is safe to open, instead of meeting in person, what does that say about the safety of opening a school? It doesn’t instill a lot of confidence knowing that the people in charge won’t risk going to a facility, but expect kids and teachers to do it. At the beginning of summer, I was hopeful that things would get worked out by the time school started, but I don’t think we’re there yet. At least not where I feel safe about sending my kids back.” – Patrick, 30, New Hampshire
We Will Send Him Back. He’s Lost So Much Progress.
“Our son will go back. He has autism, and the daily social interactions and academic instruction are essential to his development. It terrifies me how much progress we may have lost thanks to the schools shutting down last year. The virtual learning was fine, but he thrives when he can see his friends, and be in an actual classroom. I think the schools will take things seriously, and prioritize safety, so I have no problem sending him back if they reopen.” – Will, 29, Florida
It’s Too Hard to Say Right Now.
“We’re undecided. Everything changes day-to-day. Not just with the school situation, but with the whole pandemic in general. There aren’t any straight, definitive answers. One day it’s calming down, the next day it’s the biggest spike we’ve seen since it started. So, for us, it’s just impossible to make a decision. Obviously, we’d love to plan ahead and say that we definitely will or won’t send our kids back to school. But, how can we realistically do that when there’s just so much uncertainty?” – John, 34, New York
Absolutely Not. I Need A Lot More Reassurance
“No fucking way. That’s how strongly I feel about not sending our kids back to school. There’s absolutely nothing that the local, state, or federal government has done to make me think, ‘Yeah, it seems perfectly safe to send my kids into a building full of a hundred other kids, whose parents I don’t know.’ If I could say, without any shadow of doubt, that I knew every student’s parents were wearing masks, sanitizing, and generally taking this seriously, I’d be first in line when school reopened. But, there’s no way that’s possible. So, I’m going to need a lot more reassurance than some hand sanitizer pumps and bleach wipes in each classroom to take that risk.” – Reed, 34, Ohio
No Way. I Don’t Trust the Other Parents At All.
“Nope. And you know why? I’m Facebook friends with a lot of my son’s classmates’ parents, and I’ve seen plenty of posts that make me realize they’re all idiots. One mom posted a selfie out at a crowded bar. A lot of them are anti-mask. There was one parent who even said something like, ‘I hope my kid gets it, so that he’ll get the antibodies and get it over with!’ And I’m supposed to feel comfortable sending my son to school with these morons’ kids? No way. I’ll be looking for a tutor instead.” – J.C., 33, North Carolina
Yes. But Only Because My Daughter Attends a Small, Private School.
“I think we’ll send our son and daughter back to school if it resumes in the fall. It’s a small, private school – that’s the main reason. Their classes aren’t larger than ten kids, and the teachers have all been very communicative about measures they plan to take should the school year begin on time. I think that’s all a parent can ask in this situation – honesty and the prioritization of safety. If they went to a bigger school, with more students, and more parents we didn’t know, it’d be a different story. But, as far as the school community goes, I think we’re all on the same page regarding what needs to happen when the kids go back.” – Camden, 32, Indiana
I Want to. My Wife Doesn’t. We Still Need to Figure It Out.
“My wife and I disagree about the whole situation. I think it will be fine, honestly. But she’s a catastrophic thinker, and is terrified of one of our daughter’s classmates showing up like the monkey from Outbreak and hacking COVID all over everyone. I know a lot of teachers in our district. I went to high school with a few of them. And they all seem to think that schools will inevitably reopen. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine everyone involved not taking every single precaution to prevent anything from happening. Maybe I’m naive about it. Maybe my wife is overreacting. Hopefully we can figure it out when the time comes.” – Greg, 39, Oregon
If There’s Some Sort of Hybrid School Model, Then Yes.
“If there’s a hybrid virtual/in-person learning model in place, I think we’ll send our daughter back to school. We were very impressed with how the school handled the early closing by transitioning everything to online learning. So, we know it’s a possible, viable option. But, we also know that sitting in front of a computer isn’t the same as being in a classroom with your friends, learning how to play and interact. There’s been talk of three days in class, two days learning from home, which I think would be a good way to go. At least to see what happened. I think a lot of schools and parents are looking at this as an either/or situation. We send them back full time, or we don’t. But, it doesn’t have to be like that, and we think this would be a safe, effective compromise.” – Alan, 38, South Carolina
I Know It’s Risky, But They’ll Be Going Back.
“Even though I know it’s risky, I think the face-to-face element of school needs to be there, especially at such a young age. My son actually loved the online learning he did at the end of last school year. I think that’s because it was a novelty. It was like FaceTiming your friends all at once, which was fun, and cool, and a great substitute for in-person learning. Mentally, I think the kids need to be around other kids. They truly have no idea what’s going on right now, and these are incredibly formative years for elementary school children. I think that taking the proper precautions, combined with a vigilant attitude, will allow schools to resume effectively. And I trust them to do that.” – Steve, 37, Georgia
Wellman and coworkers at the hospital’s opening, April 14, 2020.
Fred Wellman, a West Point graduate and retired public affairs officer, was at home in Richmond, Virginia when he got a call from his friend Kate Kemplin, an assistant professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Nursing in Ontario, Canada, who was driving to New York.
“She said, ‘we’re building a hospital and we need your network in New York City,'” Wellman, who holds a masters in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School, told We Are The Mighty.
Kemplin was referencing what would become the Ryan F. Larkin NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University’s Baker Field, a temporary hospital created to care for COVID-19 patients.
“She needed someone to handle the administrative aspects — things like admin work, bed tracking systems, logistics, not a hospital person, but someone intimately familiar with processes,” Wellman explained. “I was telling my girlfriend about all of this later on and she looked right at me and said, ‘You know that’s you, right?'”
Wellman, the founder and CEO of public relations and research firm ScoutComms, talked to his senior staff and family and called Kemplin back.
“It sounds like you need me,” he told her.
Wellman pauses for a selfie in what would become The Ryan F. Larkin NewYork-Presbyterian Field Hospital at Columbia University’s Baker Field.
Courtesy of Fred Wellman
Wellman drove to New York City, where he has been working for a week in his new role as chief of staff at the field hospital, where the staff is composed entirely of former military.
“We put the SOS out to the Special Forces community for medics, and said we need you in New York within a day or two,” Wellman said. “We were able to bring in Special Forces medics as healthcare providers under doctor supervision. It’s never been done in a stateside setting, to use former medics as providers. They’re putting on PPE and taking care of patients. That’s what’s so revolutionary about this. These are former special operations community medics and healthcare workers who have come together on a week’s notice. It’s never been done. Using medics this way is unheard of.”
On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the Ryan F. Larkin NewYork-Presbyterian Field Hospital opened.
Melissa Givens, a retired Army colonel, serves as the hospital’s medical director with over 20 years of experience in emergency and special operations medicine and disaster operation.
“We’re able to let veterans do what they love to do and that’s run at the sound of gunfire, and the gunfire is coronavirus. Here we come and we’re here to help,” Givens, who left her work as a practicing emergency physician in the Washington, D.C. area to aid in NYC, said in an interview with Spectrum News NY1.
The temporary hospital, named after Navy SEAL medic Ryan Larkin who died in April 2017, has the capacity to treat 216 COVID-19 patients, as well as staff a 47-bed emergency department outpost.
“Many beds are being taken up at local hospitals by people who are recovering and we need those beds for sicker people,” Wellman said. “Hospitals are using their waiting rooms, cafeterias, as bed space. We have treated a couple dozen patients [here], and that’s growing quickly. Our hope is to get our system working really well and to get sicker patients into the proper hospitals where they belong.”
Despite the enormous physical and mental strain of the work being done, Wellman admits that the military’s ingrained sense of camaraderie has helped.
“We all understand the gravity of what we are doing and why we are here,” he said. “[But] seeing the way all these veterans, from different branches of service, with different experiences, and completely different ranks, just fell right into a unit from day one.”
Speaking through a mask as the interview ended and Wellman headed back inside the bubble, he likened his experience to his former life as an executive military officer.
“I went to Iraq three times and Desert Storm before that. That first deployment, you didn’t know what to expect; it’s planned, you know what you’re going to do, but once you cross that border, all bets are off. Yeah we have systems and processes, but this virus gets to vote, too.”
Looking for a way to get in a great workout? Want to get in a great PT session with your fellow vets and service members? Need to get out of the house while still practicing social distancing?
Dawn your patriotic swag, grab your pack and head to your favorite hiking spot.
This Saturday, March 28, 2020, 23rd Veteran is hosting a Virtual Ruck March that you can participate in from anywhere in the world.
The event was originally supposed to be held in Los Angeles and Minnesota as a fundraiser for 23rd Veteran. However, as we all know, the coronavirus outbreak forced mass gatherings to be canceled or postponed. Yes, even marching one arm’s distance from each other would not be a good thing.
So Mike Waldron, Marine veteran and founder and executive director of 23rd Veteran came up with a great way to still have the event and get people moving, while still keeping smart about social distancing.
“We have lost a lot as a country these past few weeks,” Waldon told We Are The Mighty. “We had to cancel all our fundraising events to help our troops, but we don’t want to give up on them. Join this free virtual event to walk side-by-side with those defending our freedom on the front line.”
The original event had participants in Iraq that included both US and Allied service members so this is also a way to march with them in solidarity. The forward deployed troops will still be participating and will be able to be seen via the event’s Facebook page.
This also brings attention to an amazing nonprofit that helps veterans overcome a lot of the mental and emotional obstacles that we face when we transition out of military service.
23rd Veteran is a program that encourages veterans to overcome their challenges by engaging in rigorous exercise, group outings and therapy in a structured, 14-week program. This program originated from Mike’s own experience as a Marine grunt. He served in the 1st Marine Division with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines from 2000 to 2004. He was in the initial push into Iraq and upon EASing out of the Marines went to college and majored in business. He found a career managing federal buildings when he went through what a lot of us go through years after getting out. He started having panic attacks, anxiety and nightmares which were impeding his life. He initially refused to attribute it to his service in Iraq because, well, it was five years after the fact. Wouldn’t he have had issues before that?
When he got help, he learned, as many of us do, that PTS might not surface until years later. As he got help, he decided to look deeper as to why that delay occurs.
What he found was that your brain changes when experiencing a traumatic event. It makes itself remember the event and files it away. Your brain recognizes that there was a threat and you survived the threat. But the problem that many service members face is that you go from a high threat atmosphere to one that isn’t. However, your brain remembers; it’s called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is a protein that affects long term memory.
When your brain sees a threat (even if it isn’t there), it remembers the traumatic event so you can remember it as a survival skill.
Using this knowledge, Waldron created a 14-week program to help veterans who are dealing with mental health issues.
The program starts with a one week excursion out of their town (the program is currently in four cities and growing) and puts them in nature, with just themselves as company. The point is to team build and put them in activities that will engage their bodies and brains.
After that one-week indoc, they go back home and three times a week, work out together in high intensity training. This gets the blood flowing and body moving but also engages the BDNF in your brain. Immediately afterward, the group will go and have some type of outing that will put them in a public spot and force them to face their triggers.
Starting out small and with just the group, the outing eventually moves to more public spots with civilians joining. This process of having vets engage after a high intensity workout allows them to retrain their brain to be accepting of situations instead of triggering a fight or flight reaction that comes with PTS. Vets are then given assignments for each week which help them overcome their triggers and face their PTS head on.
There are only four rules:
No news (local news but not to take in negative)
No war stories
Using advice from personal trainers, positive psychologists and military personnel, Waldron created the 23V Recon playbook which is the backbone for the program. The result has been a resounding success and has led Waldron and his team to seek to expand their program to other cities. Based out of Minnesota, 23V is looking to expand into Los Angeles, which one of the canceled ruck marches was supposed to raise money for.
This is where you come in.
If you want to get out of the house, raise awareness for a great cause and help 23V grow, sign up and march on Saturday. Get outside, put on your pack and take to a trail and show your support. Let others know too, but make sure if you do it together you stay a safe distance apart. Get to stepping!
So you’re stuck inside, and it kind of sucks — just a slight understatement, really. For many, Covid-19 is a life-changing (or crushing, even) event, so those of us whose biggest worry is remembering what day it is and making ourselves put on real pants, doing something is highly encouraged.
Also recommended? Breaking up the monotony with a challenge. When every day feels like Wednesday, becoming one with your couch is tempting. The couch doesn’t care. It’s a couch. You, on the other hand, probably will care when endless hours of Netflix leaves you with major brain fog. Try these activities to stay sharp. If you do them every day, you may get out of quarantine smarter than you were before!
Or jump rope, try a Zumba class on YouTube, or do a HIIT workout. It doesn’t matter what activity you pick, as long as it elevates your heart rate. Lifting weights can improve muscle tone and bone density, but aerobic activities are the ones that give your brain a boost. In some studies, sprinting was more effective at improving IQ than playing brain-training games. In other words, if you’d like to get smarter without thinking about it, just go for a run! Your brain will thank you, and your couch potato butt probably will too.
Bring out the chessboard
I’m not a huge fan of chess. Trying to remember what all the little people do bugs me. I want to make the knight elope with the queen in a scandalous twist, but apparently that’s not how you play. If you play by the rules, however, it’s amazing for your brain. The strategy involved exercises both hemispheres of your brain and strengthens the connection between them, which is amazing for increasing mental acuity. The moral of the story? Don’t play chess like me.
Review your high school French textbook
Few of us learned a language fluently in high school, but we probably should have. Learning a new language helps you better understand how your native language works and changes how you think for the better. It also reduces the likelihood of developing dementia later in life. Oh…and it’s pretty hot.
Brush off the dust on your guitar
Learning an instrument is similar to learning a language, except the language sounds extra awesome. Like learning a language, it uses both sides of your brain and gives your memory a workout, with the added benefit of strengthening your coordination and speeding up sensory processing. So what if you sound terrible at first? It’s fun and good for your stressed out, underutilized noggin.
In high school, I tried to convince my mom that I couldn’t study without a nap. It turns out I wasn’t too far off. (Suck it, mom!) While you admittedly can’t review history notes while unconscious, your brain consolidates memories while you sleep. Not getting enough zzz’s is a surefire way to slow down the learning process, and if it gets bad enough you can actually start losing IQ points– about one point lost for every hour of sleep you lose each night.
Welp, guess it’s time to do some jumping jacks, torture my neighbors with mediocre violin and take a nap. Maybe I’ll wake up a little smarter.