Edition #151 – est 3/2020

The circle of doom…

Doomscrolling is the habit of scrolling through social media for long periods of time reading bad news and negative posts. On LinkedIn, 53% of people surveyed admitted to a daily dose of doomscrolling. The Russian-Ukrainian war has doomscrolling back in ways not seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, instead of videos showing intubated and dying COVID-19 patients, we’re now seeing violent images of missile attacks, wounded civilians and soldiers lying on the streets – all while a threat of nuclear attack hangs in the air.

Before the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, the average person would typically read the paper in the morning or watch the evening news for their daily fill of national and global updates. Besides the 24/7 news streams, today’s news includes images and videos that depict graphic violence or other disturbing content that in the past would have been considered too shocking or inappropriate for the public. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), American adults report feeling conflicted between wanting to be informed about the war but also feeling that news and social media feeds contribute to their stress levels.

Chronic stress is bad for your health – when stressed, our bodies produce high levels of a natural steroid called cortisol. Chronic high levels of cortisol can cause digestive problems, elevated blood pressure, headaches, sleep problems, chronic pain, memory or concentration impairment, heart disease, elevated blood sugars and weight gain. Many of us have already been feeling stressed for the better part of the last two years. Unfortunately, now that the pandemic stress is better, we are still faced with another global problem. So, with all of this going on, what can you do to stay informed, avoid doomscrolling and not get physically ill from following the news?

Start with some tips on how to read bad news without going down the rabbit hole:

  • Look for the source. news or sensationalism
  • Realize they might be wrong. many qualified, smart people who have done their homework still get things wrong.
  • Monitor your judgments. humans have emotions that tend to steer us more than hard facts do.
  • Go analog, not digital. Consider that an old-fashioned newspaper lacks flashing lights, loud anchors, pop-up ads, and comment sections; reading, as opposed to scrolling, may better contribute to sustained focus and relaxation as opposed to the frenzy of internet and broadcast coverage.
  • Set a time limit. reduce time scrolling aimlessly on your feed – set an alarm to go off
  • When overwhelmed, unplug entirely.

Other things you can do:

  1. Pay attention to your body’s feelings and sensationsWhen you notice how much anxiety the bad news is causing you, it should motivate you to stop scrolling through the news
  2. Screen-free mornings – Instead of starting your day on the wrong foot, absorbing bad news, it would be better to get into a morning ritual that is a screen free zone. Many people find they’re better off with a morning meditation or a quick workout.
  3. Try joyscrolling. Retrain you phone algorithms by bookmarking positive news stories and following social media accounts that align with your interests, such as books, movies, gardening, or art.
  4. Regular exercise to improve mood  – walking, jogging, lifting weights, swimming, biking, zumba…whatever you can do to increase your heart rate will also raise hormone levels of endorphins.which are associated with feelings of pleasure, euphoria, excitement, and well-being.
  5. Reach out to friends and family and socialize more – you’re vaccinated, covid levels are low and mask mandates are lifted. Unplug and enjoy spending time with those you care about without a computer screen between you
  6. Don’t “stress eat” processed foods – sugar highs and lows affect your mood, salt loads raise blood pressure and empty calories lead to weight gain
  7. Volunteer for a local organization – Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in the south of England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer. The study also found that volunteers had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.

We all scroll through our phones or computers for news during times when there are ongoing world or local events because we’re trying to stay informed. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to take that dive into the internet as we try to make sense of what’s happening or want to commiserate with others. Before you realize it, time has flown by and you’ve gained no more news than you did in the first 10 minutes of scrolling plus your blood pressure is up and you now have heartburn. Doomscrolling creates problems at work and at home when the people around you wonder why you’re distracted, moody and spending less time with friends and family. So don’t be a doomscroller…check the news, check the weather, check some sports scores and then check in with friends and family. Life is too short to waste on doomscrolling.

We are in a new phase of the pandemic:
  1. We can now prevent severe disease with vaccines and therapeutics.
  2. Our hospitals are not overloaded.
  3. State and local mask mandates have been lifted across the country.
  4. Vaccination requirements are being sorted out for public and private spaces
  5. Workplaces are asking their employees to be back onsite
  6. Vaccines for children under 5 years old should be available in April
  7. The travel industry is busy again
  8. All schools are open and most have made masking optional
  9. The headlines have shifted from pandemic news to the invasion of Ukraine

            Philadelphia [PDPH]
  • 18 and over: 76% fully vaxxed; 32% boosted
  • 12 and over: 75% fully vaxxed
  • 5 to 11 years old: 34.2% fully vaxxed
  • 65 average new cases daily
  • 117 people hospitalized with COVID (18 in the ICU)
Pennsylvania [DOH]
  • 73% have one dose
  • 62% fully vaxxed
  • In a letter to families, Superintendent William Hite Jr. wrote that masks will be optional for students and faculty starting Wednesday, Mar. 9 if COVID-19 metrics continue to decline. Masks will still be required for students and staff in the district’s Pre-K Head Start programs per U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. “I ask that you thoughtfully consider your personal situation and family circumstances, and do what is best for you or your child – and please respect everyone else’s right to do the same, even if their choice differs from yours,” Hite wrote.
  • Face masks are now optional at Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum. The museum said it will continue its enhanced cleaning protocols, which include using “hospital-grade and EPA-approved” products, as well as frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Other Philadelphia museums that have made masking optional include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute and the Barnes Museum. However, other museums – including the Academy of Natural Sciences – are still requiring face coverings.
  • The National Football League’s COVID protocols have been lifted.
  1. Players who test positive will still have to notify their teams, but will only be required to isolate for the five days recommended by the CDC
  2. They will no longer mandate testing
  3. No mandated mask use
  4. No room capacity limits
  • Among infants and very young children, symptomatic respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections required greater hospital resource utilization than SARS-CoV-2 infections, a retrospective study in Germany found. The group with RSV also had a significantly greater need for oxygen supplementation, were sicker than patients with SARS-CoV-2 and were hospitalized significantly longer. Long-term outcomes of RSV include asthma, preschool wheeze, and recurrent respiratory infections, while those of SARS-CoV-2 remain largely unknown.
  • Mild tissue shrinkage in brain areas related to smell were seen months after people had SARS-CoV-2 infection reported Gwenaëlle Douaud, PhD, of the University of Oxford in the journal Nature. Negative effects  – like difficulty performing complex tasks  – were more marked at older ages. There were no signs of memory impairment. HOWEVER…Reagan Wetherill PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia co-authored a paper in Nature Communications revealing that one or two alcoholic drinks a day was also linked with reductions in brain volume. Essentially, a daily pint of beer or glass of wine in 50-year-olds lead to brain changes equivalent to the effect of aging two years. 
  • The Biden administration released its new national COVID-19 preparedness plan at the White House press briefing. To allow for rapid and free access to COVID-19 tests and antivirals, they’re also launching one-stop “test to treat” sites starting this month at local pharmacy clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities, and veterans’ health centers across the country. President Biden’s national COVID-19 plan has four key goals:
  1. Protecting against and treating COVID-19
  2. Preparing for new variants
  3. Avoiding shutdowns
  4. Leading the effort to vaccinate the world
  • The number of seated diners last month was at least 40 percent below prepandemic levels in New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Cambridge, Mass., according to OpenTableBy contrast, the number of diners has fully recovered in Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, Phoenix, Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas, as well as in Oklahoma, Nebraska and New Hampshire. The same states and cities who are 40% below prepandemic restaurant seating are still spending significantly more time working at home and less at the office than before the pandemic began, according to Opportunity Insights, a Harvard-based research group. In the cities where seated dining has recovered, the rhythms of daily life have returned nearly to normal.
  • The federal mask mandate covering airports, trains, and other forms of public transportation has been extended from March 18th to April 18th, 2022. But the relatively short extension signaled that the federal government may be preparing to wind down the requirement, at least in some places. The C.D.C. was consulting other federal agencies to determine when masks should be required on public transit, taking into account case counts and the risks of new variants, among other factors.
  • The world could soon have another vaccine option in its fight against Covid-19 that will be named Vidprevtyn, Vidprevtyn is a protein subunit vaccine, which means it uses harmless protein fragments that teach the immune system how to spot and fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It’s a more traditional type of vaccine than mRNA vaccines. These kinds of vaccines can be stored at refrigerator temperatures, making them easier to use in areas that don’t have access to ultracold storage. Because they rely on more familiar technology, there’s hope that people who’ve declined other kinds of Covid-19 vaccines may find these kinds of vaccines more palatable. A company spokesperson says that the most likely role for the vaccine in the US and European markets — where so many people have completed their initial vaccine series — will be as a booster.


  • The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the coronavirus is most likely here to stay — and that it could behave similarly to influenza. “I do anticipate that this is probably going to be a seasonal virus,” said the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. That means it could join the flu and other respiratory viruses that tend to spread during the cold winter months.