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Fatigue, brain fog, joint pain? You may be suffering from long-Covid

Asymptomatic Covid-19 and “long-Covid” are becoming a greater concern as many may be suffering from the virus without even knowing. 

Asymptomatic Covid and long-Covid have been flying under the radar however, the affects of both should not be overlooked. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people who have Covid-19 are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic Covid is more likely to occur in healthy and younger age groups, including children and in households where another member has contracted Covid. Individuals who have been in contact with others who have tested positive for the virus but do not display symptoms after contact could be asymptomatic. 

Additionally, about a fifth of asymptomatic individuals went on to develop what has been termed “long-Covid,” according to an analysis by FAIR Health. Current research suggests older individuals are more likely to contract long Covid, but it has been found in many younger individuals as well. Data from a study conducted by King’s College London found that 1-2% of people in their 20s who had the virus would develop long Covid. For people in their 60s that number increased to about 5%. Long-Covid has also been found to be twice as common among women according to the BBC. 

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

What is long-Covid and how does it affect the body? 

Long-Covid is characterized by symptoms continuing for more than 12 weeks after infection which cannot be explained by another cause. Those who contracted Covid and were asymptomatic may not even know they are suffering from long-Covid afterwards. 

“There’s a myth out there that it only occurs with severe COVID, and obviously it occurs far more frequently in mild COVID,” said Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, in an article with National Geographic

Many symptoms of long-Covid are often overlooked or written off as unrelated making the syndrome hard to pin down. Long-Covid can include a large range of symptoms such as pain, breathing difficulties, fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, sleep disturbance, and hypertension.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can impact your daily life, making ordinary tasks more difficult, and in extreme cases can lead to debilitating effects such as hallucinations, skin conditions, short-term memory loss, insomnia, hearing and vision changes, and gastro-intestinal problems.

Other symptoms according to the CDC, include: 

  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

The potential debilitating effects of long-Covid is cause for concern and individuals should keep an eye out for any changes to their health, even if they do not believe they have contracted Covid-19.

You might be interested: Brain fog can be alerting you about these medical conditions

Diagnosing and treating long-Covid 

While the cause of long-Covid is not yet known, experts theorize that the infection may make some people’s immune systems “go into overdrive,” attacking other parts of the body while combating the virus. 

Another theory presented in a BBC article stated that “fragments of the virus could remain in the body, possibly lying dormant and then becoming reactivated.” However, there is little evidence to support this theory at the moment.

The range of long-Covid’s symptoms has made it difficult to detect and treat. BBC reported that a study conducted by University College London found “200 symptoms affecting 10 organ systems in people with long Covid.”

According to Melissa Pinto, associate professor in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at University of California Irvine, researchers found that some people who tested positive for Covid-19 but hadn’t reported symptoms at the time of infection  later came in with symptoms associated with long-Covid. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In diagnosing long-Covid, researchers and medical professionals must first test for any other underlying or preexisting conditions that may be causing symptoms.

Ann Parker, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and a specialist in post-acute COVID-19 care, said, “When a patient comes to see us, we do a very thorough evaluation because we still don’t know exactly what to attribute to COVID and what might be a pre-existing underlying syndrome. The last thing I want to have happen is to say to a patient, yes, this is because you had COVID and miss something else that we could have addressed.”

We are only just beginning to understand the effects of long-Covid and how to detect and treat it. With so much still unknown, it is important for individuals who have contracted Covid-19 to continue monitoring their health even after recovery. For those who may have been asymptomatic, you may not even know you had Covid or have long-Covid. In this case, individuals who have been in contact with people who tested positive for the virus should consider getting tested even if no symptoms are present. 

Why Hispanics are spending more than usual

The pandemic convinced Hispanic-Americans to take their safety seriously – along with financial preparedness.

According to a recent survey conducted by Debt.com en Español, US Latinos and Hispanics are spending more preparing for natural disasters in 2021 than they did in 2020. The reason for the change in financial habits: COVID-19.

The pandemic took everyone by surprise, revealing just how scary life can be when you are not prepared. Now, data finds that Hispanics are spending more than usual to prepare for the unexpected. 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Financial preparedness post-COVID

As hurricane season continues and wildfires spread throughout the western US, climate change and natural disasters are on everyone’s minds. Like a global pandemic, natural disasters can be devastating and unpredictable.

Even with warnings, one can never know how bad a disaster might be. This is why preparing and planning ahead is crucial. Both businesses and families should have a plan in place for dealing with natural disasters and the aftermath. 

US Hispanics and Latinos seem to have learned this lesson post-COVID. When Debt.com en Español polled more than 1,000 Hispanic and Latino Americans, 3 in 4 said they were either “spending a little more than usual” or “spending at least double” getting ready for hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, and earthquakes. Only 1 in 4 said they were spending less than before and all said COVID-19 was directly responsible for their extra spending.

financial preparedness

Natural Disaster Survey 2021. (Image source)

“Even during the pandemic, we saw how Americans were changing their spending and saving habits, often for the better,” says Debt.com chairman Howard Dvorkin, CPA. “Now we’re seeing how long that will last. At least in this one area, for this one year, it’s obvious: COVID-19 took such a terrible and sudden toll, no one wants to be caught unprepared again – for anything.”

Additionally, Debt.com en Espanol’s Natural Disaster Survey revealed that most Hispanic-Americans will also be paying more attention to government warnings. The survey showed that 85% said they will take government warnings more seriously and will prepare much better than they have in the past. 

You might be interested: Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

Decrease in credit card spending

Survey data from Debt.com also revealed another interesting change in the past year: a decrease in credit card spending post-COVID. The pandemic has made people more aware of their spending and more concerned over accumulating debt.

Now, data shows Americans are charging less to their credit cards, and many believe the decrease in credit card spending will continue post-COVID, especially when it comes to approaching natural disasters. 

financial preparedness

Debt.com post-Covid credit card spending survey results. (Image source)

Financial counselor Howard Dvorkin was particularly intrigued by two survey results. First, for those who have been through a natural disaster before, less than 26% needed to use their credit card to pay for their recovery efforts. Yet those who did need their credit card for recovery efforts spent a significant amount: More than 4 in 10 charged over $500 to a credit card. 

“On the one hand, I’m encouraged that many people could get their lives back to normal without charging extra on their credit cards – because it’s a very expensive form of debt,” Dvorkin said. “On the other hand, I worry about those who charged $500 or more. I suspect some of them are still paying that off, since their interest rate could easily top 20 percent.”

As we move forward, post-pandemic it is important to remember the lessons learned. Financial preparedness will ensure families and businesses have the resources needed to recover whenever a disaster may strike. 

ABOUT: Debt.com is the consumer website where people can find help with credit card debt, student loan debt, tax debt, credit repair, bankruptcy, and more. Debt.com works with vetted and certified providers that give the best advice and solutions for consumers ‘when life happens.’

schools reopen

Schools reopen this fall: Is it safe? 

New Jersey announces students will be back for full-time, in-person for the 2021-2022 school year as schools reopen statewide. 

It’s time to say goodbye to virtual learning as schools reopen this fall. According to the official site of the state of New Jersey, schools will be reopening full-time and in-person for the upcoming school year. Schools first closed back in March 2020, when the pandemic began and instruction moved online. Throughout the 2020 – 2021 school year, the majority of NJ schools remained virtual or offered hybrid learning options, with a mix of in-person and virtual students. Now, officials say parents or guardians will not be able to opt children out of in-person instruction for this upcoming school year. 

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

The closing of schools last year led to mixed responses from parents and families. Some welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with their children. Others worried about the quality of their children’s education and wondered if virtual learning would be enough to keep children on track. Many working parents also struggled, juggling homeschooling and working from home. And parents who did not have the luxury to work from home faced the challenge of finding childcare for their children amid the pandemic. 

Now, schools are reopening, and feelings are once again mixed. Some worry that it’s not safe, especially with new, stronger COVID-19 variants spreading quickly across the globe, such as the more contagious Delta variant that has been particularly infectious among the young and unvaccinated–aka the prime population of students. Other parents are glad to see a sense of normalcy return to their children’s lives and routines. 

Regardless of where you stand in the debate, without the option to opt out of in-person learning this year, it is important for NJ parents to familiarize themselves with the new rules, guidelines, and safety precautions that will be in place for students this fall. 

Safety precautions for returning students 

According to NJ.gov, all students, educators, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face masks inside of school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.  Effective Monday, August 9, 2021, masks are required in the indoor premises of all public, private, and parochial preschool, elementary, and secondary school buildings, with limited exceptions.

Exceptions to the mask requirement include:

  • When doing so would inhibit the individual’s health, such as when the individual is exposed to extreme heat indoors;
  • When the individual has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance;
  • When a student’s documented medical condition or disability, as reflected in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Educational Plan pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, precludes use of a face covering;
  • When the individual is under two (2) years of age;
  • When an individual is engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as eating and drinking or playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering;
  • When the individual is engaged in high-intensity aerobic or anerobic activity;
  • When a student is participating in high-intensity physical activities during a physical education class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals; or
  • When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.

Additionally, the Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Health, has produced a health and safety guidance document detailing recommendations designed to provide a healthy and safe environment for students and staff during the 2021-2022 school year.

These strategies are recommendations, not mandatory standards. The absence of one or more of these strategies should not prevent school facilities from opening for full-day, in-person operation.

You might be interested: Reopening schools during Covid-19? Educator and activist Maria Santiago-Valentin weighs in

Vaccinations, social distancing, and more: Will it be enough? 

Alongside the mask mandate, schools will also be enforcing social distancing, promoting vaccinations and testing, and encouraging parents and caregivers to monitor their children for symptoms. 

Vaccinations are currently not required, however strongly encouraged for students and staff who are eligible to be vaccinated. Since most K-12 schools will have a mixed population of fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals at any given time, schools will require the layering of preventive measures to protect individuals who are not fully vaccinated. This will include social distancing within the classroom and an effort to screen and report when children are displaying symptoms. Caregivers are encouraged to actively keep watch of their child’s health and report symptoms to the school. Students who are sick should not attend school until symptoms subside. 

All these precautions are crucial to ensuring the safety of students as they return to full-time, in-person instruction. It is unclear if schools will remain fully open throughout this upcoming school year, however, for now, we can say goodbye to virtual learning as schools reopen for this fall. 

For information on the status of school reopenings in other states, be sure to visit your state’s official website. To check for your state’s mask mandate, see here

How to stay protected from quick-spreading COVID-19 Delta variant 

The Delta coronavirus variant, which was first identified in India in December 2020, is a variant of the original coronavirus that swept the globe last year, only now it has evolved to become more infectious. Currently, the Delta variant has only been labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC due to it’s high rate of infection and potential to evade vaccines. Since its discovery in late 2020, the Delta variant has spread globally and is now reported in 104 countries

As of early July, the Delta variant has become the dominant form of the COVID-19 in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and other countries. In the U.K., the variant now makes up more than 97% of new COVID-19 cases and in the U.S. it is present in all 50 states and now accounts for 52% of new infections. 

Source: @fusion_medical_animation on Unsplash.

Quick-spreading variant of concern 

The CDC and WHO monitor all variants of the virus to find out if transmission could lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as whether current vaccines can provide protection. 

In the U.S. variants are classified as either a “variant of interest,” a “variant of concern,” or a “variant of high consequence.” Currently no variants are classified as variants of high consequence, though Delta and others have been classified as variants of concern

The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, has been classified as such due to its increased rate of transmissibility. It can spread more easily, according to the CDC and the strain contains mutations on the spike protein that make it easier to infect human cells. This means that infected individuals may be more contagious and can spread the virus more easily to others. It is believed that those infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to three or four people at a time, compared to the original virus which spread to one or two people at a time according to Yale Medicine

Researchers now have found that the Delta variant is about 50% more contagious than the variant that preceded it, Alpha B.1.1.7. The Alpha variant was already 50% more contagious than the original coronavirus that began spreading in China in 2019. 

Additionally, many are concerned that the Delta virus may be harder to treat as it may be able to escape some protection from vaccines and treatment. Still, experts urge the unvaccinated to get their two doses, as the vaccine is still the main safeguard against the virus. 

Delta Plus 

An off-shoot of the Delta variant now gaining traction is Delta Plus. Known as B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1, Delta Plus is considered a “subvariant” of the Delta variant. The key difference between the two is that Delta Plus contains a mutation that allows the virus to better attack lung cells and potentially escape vaccines.

The coronavirus works by attacking the respiratory tract, traveling down your airways and getting into the lungs, irritating and inflaming the lining and using healthy cells to make new virus parts and spread the infection. 

Delta Plus’ ability to better attack lung cells is concerning as the variant could potentially lead to more severe symptoms and cases. However, so far only India has labeled Delta Plus a variant of concern. 

New symptoms and steps to protect yourself 

post-Covid stress

Coping with post-Covid stress. Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Unlike the original strand of the COVID-19 virus, the Delta variant is exhibiting some different, milder symptoms which may go unnoticed. Instead of the hallmarks of COVID-19 such as shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell, the most common symptoms of the new Delta strain are headaches, a runny nose, and sore throat—symptoms that could be easily confused with the common cold. 

Still, the original COVID-19 symptoms may also be present so it is important for individuals to stay vigilant and not dismiss any symptoms, even if they have already been vaccinated. 

Get fully vaccinated

Currently, vaccination is the best safeguard against all strains of the virus and people who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at the most risk. The Delta strain also appears to be impacting children and young people at a greater rate than previous variants. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

A recent study from the U.K. showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with the Delta variant. Mutations in the Delta variant allow it to evade some of the protections vaccines offer, however, even still, those vaccinated are more protected than unvaccinated individuals. 

The key to full protection is to get both doses of the vaccine. Those who have only been partially vaccinated are at an increased risk of infection as one dose has been found to be only 33% effective.

Wear masks and use your better judgement 

While the CDC’s updated guidelines no longer require fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask in most situations, experts advise to continue using them indoors or in crowds of unfamiliar people. 

source: https://unsplash.com/@unitednations

If you’re not sure if the people you are around are fully vaccinated, it’s best to use your better judgement and wear a mask to keep both yourself and others safe. Since the Delta variant can potentially evade some of the protections from the vaccine and vaccines themselves are not 100% effective in preventing the virus, extra caution is the prudent approach. Additionally, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to wash their hands thoroughly after outings and contact with individuals and stay home if they are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of the virus. 

We will continue to see how the Delta variant progresses in the coming weeks. 

You may be interested: Is business travel as we know it dead? 

covid 19 variant

What to know about COVID-19 Delta-variant infecting the young and partially vaccinated   

The Delta coronavirus variant, which was first identified in India, is a variant of the original virus that swept the globe last year, only now it has evolved to become more infectious. Currently, the Delta variant has not been found to be more dangerous or deadly, however it’s high rate of infection among young and partially vaccinated people is concerning. 

According to an article by Business Insider, the Delta variant has taken over the UK, accounting for 95% of infections. In the U.S. the variant currently accounts for more than 20% of cases and this number is likely to grow. 

New Delta-variant symptoms to watch for 

Unlike the original strand of the COVID-19 virus, the Delta-variant is exhibiting different, milder symptoms which may go unnoticed. Instead of the hallmarks of COVID-19 such as shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell, the most common symptoms of the new Delta strain are headaches, a runny nose, and sore throat—symptoms that could be easily confused with the common cold. 

It is unclear, however, if these milder symptoms mean the disease itself is growing milder, or if this is simply how the new variant presents in young, healthy people or people who have been partially vaccinated. 

The biggest issue right now is the rate of infection. According to data collected by epidemiologist Tim Spector, approximately 19,000 people in the UK catch COVID-19 every day, most of which are young, and not fully vaccinated. 

The new Delta-variant is reportedly twice as infectious as the original virus, with each infected person transmitting it to 6 others or more. 

Even more worrying is that another strain, known as Delta-Plus, has emerged as well. 

“Delta Plus has an extra mutation called K417N, which distinguishes it from the regular Delta variant. This mutation affects the spike protein, the part of the virus that attaches to the cells it infects,” CNN reports

This mutation brings not only the increase in transmissibility that comes with the standard Delta-variant, but also stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and a potential reduction in antibody response. 

So far, Delta-Plus has been reported in 11 countries, with the U.S. reporting the highest number of cases so far, with 83 cases as of last week, followed by the UK which reported 40 cases. Other affected countries include Canada, India, Japan, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey.

covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

Will the vaccine ward off this new strain? 

While the Delta-variant has been reported in partially vaccinated people, fully vaccinated individuals are still largely protected. Currently, the U.S. is using data from the UK to predict how the Delta-variant might spread. 

In the UK, where about 94% of individuals over the age of 70 are fully vaccinated, death-rates and infection-rates were low. However, the Delta strain is spreading quickly among younger populations and kids. 

The biggest concern is low-vax communities. Many communities, particularly lower class and ethnic communities, have disproportionately been affected by the virus and had greater trouble accessing vaccines. Due to language barriers and digital divides, many have not been able to schedule appointments or access critical resources. 

On Twitter, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean at the Brown School of Public Health, shared a thread with data showing the past month’s surge of infection in the UK and how the U.S. is likely to follow in the coming weeks. 

You might be interested: Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

“In the UK, Delta became dominant and: Cases spiked 5X, Hospitalizations up 90%, Deaths rising albeit slowly so far, Despite having vaccinated more folks than US,” Dr. Ashish Jha wrote. “The UK experience suggests US vaccination level will not be enough to ward off Delta spike. Infection rises likely to become apparent over next few weeks as Delta becomes dominant. The spike won’t be uniform across the nation. Indeed, low vax communities are particularly at risk.” 

The coming weeks will show how the Delta-variant will affect the U.S. and countries around the globe. 

covid-19 restrictions, mask rule

Is the end in sight? Mask rule lifts for the fully-vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions ease 

CDC announces lift on mask rules for vaccinated individuals and states being easing COVID-19 restrictions. 

Is the end in sight? 

In the past week, new developments regarding COVID-19 restrictions have had many thinking the end might be in sight. Will we really be back to “normal” this summer? 

Following Thursday’s announcement from the CDC which deemed that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, retailers across the country were quick to update their policies as the mask rule lifts. Companies such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Starbucks now allow fully vaccinated customers to go mask-free. 

While these new guidelines bring us one step closer to the end of this pandemic, don’t go getting rid of your masks just yet. As per the guidelines, masks may still be required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance and are still required for all forms of transportation. 

Easing COVID-19 restrictions in NJ 

In addition to the easing mask rule, many states are now in the process of phasing out other COVID-19 restrictions. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 239 which will implement the second phase of COVID-19 restriction easing. 

The easing includes the complete removal of the outdoor gathering limit; an increased indoor gathering limit; the complete removal of all percentage-based capacity limits for indoor businesses, outdoor businesses, and houses of worship; and an increased indoor large venue capacity. Additionally, the prohibition on indoor interstate youth sports competitions is being lifted.

These changes are set to take effect on Wednesday, May 19th. Additional details can be viewed at nj.gov

What can travelers expect?

As summer is on the horizon, more people are hoping to travel this year. With the newest guidelines, travel will certainly be possible for fully-vaccinated individuals as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift. 

The updated CDC guidelines for travelers now states that fully vaccinated domestic travelers need not get tested or self-quarantine before traveling. For fully vaccinated international travelers, COVID-19 testing is not necessary before leaving the U.S. unless required by the destination. Fully vaccinated travelers also do not need to self-quarantine in the United States following international travel, though international travelers arriving in the U.S. are still recommended to get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after travel regardless of vaccination status. 

However, you should still pack a mask! Because, while the CDC guidelines have lifted the mask rule for fully vaccinated individuals in many outdoor and indoor settings, masks are still required at all hubs of transportation including airports, buses, and train stations and may still be required depending on individuals local and state laws and private businesses. 

Parks and resorts like Disney and Universal are easing their mask restrictions for guests. Disney has announced that masks in outdoor areas will be optional, a relief for many travelers who struggle in the sweltering Florida heat while wearing a mask. Still, masks will be required for all indoor areas at the park, including theaters, attractions, and transportation. 

You might be interested: Mental Health Awareness Month 2021: Tools 2 Thrive

It is expected that many other vacation resorts, hotels, and tourist attractions will be updating their policies and guidelines in the coming weeks, so travelers should keep an eye out for updates as they prepare for their summer getaways!

women caregivers

Women caregivers have faced greater job-loss and health issues due to pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, women caregivers have been disproportionately affected. One in 10 working mothers with children under 18 report quitting a job due to COVID. 

With Mother’s Day just having passed, I’m sure we are all feeling appreciative of the women caregivers in our lives. Data shows that two out of every three caregivers in the United States are women. These women are responsible for providing daily or regular support to children, adults, or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Many of them are also working women with jobs outside of their caretaking responsibilities. 

Unfortunately, it’s these women caregivers that have suffered disproportionately, facing greater job losses and an increase in caretaking responsibilities since the pandemic began. Women caregivers are also at a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, with conditions like depression and anxiety being most prevalent. 

A closer look at the effects of the pandemic on caregivers 

According to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 1 in 10 women report quitting a job due to a pandemic related reason and almost half said that one of the reasons was because they felt unsafe at their workplace. Additionally, over half of mothers with school age children said that the stress and worry of the pandemic has affected their mental health, with 1 in 5 characterizing the impact as “major.” Yet, only 16% of mothers have sought mental health care to address their additional stress. 

Despite seeing improvements in recent years in regards to gender roles, women are still the primary caregivers and still more likely than men to leave their job to fulfill caretaking responsibilities. Prolonged school closures lead to a large number of working mothers having to take unpaid time off or leave their jobs entirely. One out of ten working mothers with children under the age of 18 reported quitting their job due to COVID-19 and half of that group also cited school closures as one of the main reasons, KFF’s data reports. Additionally, 3 out of 10 working mothers reported taking time off due to school closures. These numbers were higher for women of minority groups, with Latinas being the largest group to report taking time off to fulfill caregiving roles. 

Caring for older family members 

Caregivers are not just mothers of young children. Many women caregivers are also responsible for older family members. Data from the KFF states that, more than one in ten women reported they were caring for a family member who needed special assistance prior to the pandemic and that since the pandemic they have new caregiving responsibilities. 

Again, women of color face greater numbers when it comes to family caregiving responsibilities. Almost one in five Black women (18%) report caring for someone who needed special assistance prior to the pandemic, significantly higher than the 12% of White women. For Hispanic women, 18% say they have had to take on new caregiving responsibilities since the pandemic started and nearly 1 in 10 Hispanic women workers say they have had to take time off work because they were caring for a family member quarantining from or sick with COVID-19.

All of these additional responsibilities and stressors can lead to mental and physical health issues for women caregivers. This is why it is important for caregivers to look after their own needs and for others to support the caretakers in their lives. 

You might be interested: Stress Awareness Month: Coping with post-covid stress and stress at work 

Tips and resources for women caregivers 

The CDC offers many resources and tips for caregivers. Below are three key pillars to staying strong and healthy in the face of stress: 

  • Practice stress management techniques – Perhaps an obvious one, but to manage stress you should put time into addressing the cause of your stress and find healthy ways to cope. Some stress management exercises you can practice include: meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises. Connecting with others and making time to unwind and relax will also help you manage your stress. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first from time to time. 
  • Maintain your own health – Staying physically fit will help you feel better and stronger as you navigate your day to day caregiving duties. Make sure you are staying hydrated, sleeping well, exercising regularly and eating healthy, nutritious meals.
  • Seek extra support – Nobody can do it all and you are not alone. When it all gets to be too much, do not be afraid to seek out extra help. Call a friend or family member. Divide your tasks among others. Seek out virtual support groups for caretakers or ask your doctor for additional resources such as counseling.
COVID-19 vaccine card

Everything you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, providing proof of vaccination will likely be required by venues, establishments, and travel services going forward. Here’s what you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

COVID-19 vaccine card, the new “passport.” (Image credit: Governor Jim Justice, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons)

COVID-19 vaccine card: The new “passport” 

Many are beginning to call the COVID-19 vaccine cards vaccination “passports” as many venues and services are now requiring proof of vaccination for access and admittance to large gatherings. 

In New York, as the state reopens large venues and catered events at reduced capacity, proof of vaccination or recent negative test results will be required. Additionally, events with more than 100 people, such as weddings or parties, will also require proof of vaccination. 

With COVID-19 vaccine cards set to become another essential document, it’s important you keep it safe. 

What’s on the vaccine card and how to keep it safe? 

The COVID-19 vaccine card is issued to you upon your first vaccination and updated after your second dose. The card will typically contain the vaccine manufacturer, the dose numbers and the date and location each was administered. 

To keep the cards safe, many people have begun laminating them. Companies such as Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax are now offering free laminating services to those who are looking to laminate their vaccine card. Staples has provided the offer code 81450, and this offer currently does not have an end date. For Office Depot and OfficeMax, customers can use the offer code 52516714 through July 25.

While the vaccine card is an important document, officials have stated that it does not need to be on a person at all times, and should be kept safe like other important documents like your passport and social security card. Though replacing a lost or damaged vaccine card will be much easier than replacing other essential documents. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

COVID-19 vaccine cards should be kept safe like other essential documents. (Image credit: Ministry of Health, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you were vaccinated at a pharmacy your card can be easily replaced by returning to where you were vaccinated and requesting a new card. The pharmacy will then print out a new card from your records. 

Vaccinations are also tracked by state health departments, so if you have trouble retrieving a new card you can reach out to your state’s agency to get a replacement. 

Additionally, digital document options and apps are rapidly becoming available which will hopefully make sharing vaccination proof and status much quicker and hassle-free. 

New York is already ahead of the game as the first state to introduce a digital tool that allows people to easily show that they have either tested negative or been vaccinated, to gain entry into some events and venues. 

You might be interested: CDC releases new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

Until more states catch up, be sure to keep your card safe and make backups by taking a photo of your card, emailing the photo to yourself, or saving the photo somewhere secure.

Additional perks that come with your card 

In addition to the health benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a number of companies and businesses are now offering perks as incentives for people to go out and get vaccinated. 

krispy kreme donut

Krispy Kreme is offering one free glazed doughnut per day for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. (Image credit: Willis Lam, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Flashing your proof of vaccine card will get you: 

  • one free glazed doughnut per day from Krispy Kreme
  • 10-cent beers at Cleveland’s Market Garden Brewery
  • free 44-ounce popcorn at Cleveland Cinemas
  • $5 in free arcade tokens at Up-Down, a Midwestern chain of bars featuring vintage arcade games
  • free or discounted rides from Uber for seniors, essential workers and others in countries across North America, Europe and Asia to help them get to vaccination centers 
  • free yogurt from Chobani at some vaccination sites 

And many more! So be sure to take a look at what your local businesses and companies may be offering after you have been vaccinated and put your COVID-19 vaccine card to good use.

Damaris Diaz

Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

In our most recent National Conversation with Latina Leaders event, Latina Small Business Post-Covid Recovery: Resources and Trends, correspondent and TV personality, Damaris Diaz joined the conversation in a fireside chat with Latinas in Business Inc. President and CEO, Susana G Baumann.

Damaris Diaz

The free event sponsored by Prudential took place virtually on March 19 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST streaming on Zoom and Facebook Live, featuring two panels of Guest Speakers, including Damaris, and with Keynotes Speaker Stacie de Armas.

Don’t miss our next event! Meet&Greet: SOCIAL MEDIA HACKS AND TRICKS

During the fireside chat, Damaris shared stories of her own experience in the pandemic as well as the stories of others she has encountered throughout her work as a journalist and TV correspondent.

Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Damaris moved to the U.S. with her family as a young child, residing first in New York, before settling down in New Jersey as an adult. A Seton Hall graduate, Damaris focused her studies on communications and criminal justice. Now, as a journalist, correspondent, and TV personality, Damaris has had the opportunity to interview countless people and share their stories with larger audiences.

Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Damaris moved to the U.S. with her family as a young child, residing first in New York, before settling down in New Jersey as an adult. A Seton Hall graduate, Damaris focused her studies on communications and criminal justice. Now, as a journalist, correspondent, and TV personality, Damaris has had the opportunity to interview countless people and share their stories with larger audiences. 

Some key topics Damaris spoke about were the impact the pandemic has had mentally on the Latino community, essential workers, business owners, and families who have suffered unexpected losses, including her own family. 

Biggest lessons learned during the pandemic 

Susana G Baumann 4:23

I would like to ask you, you know, what, what lessons have we learned from the pandemic? You know, this unexpected devastation? I know you have been covering a lot of personal stories of family, emotional and financial distress.

Damaris Diaz 4:54

That’s right, Susana. It’s been you know, it’s been a whirlwind…So many of us have been affected on so many levels. I have friends who say to me, ‘Oh, wow, you know, I haven’t gotten COVID. And my family’s all okay.’ And I’m like, wow, God bless you, you know that that’s not my story. My story early on, my cousin’s parents both fell ill in the hospital. Here in a local hospital in New Jersey, just two days apart. Ambulance came for the mom, ambulance came to the dad, the next day, within a week…And you know, nobody was prepared for that nobody was prepared for a loss in the middle of a pandemic, where you can’t even congregate with your family and be there for them and hold their hand and be a part of their pain.

And, you know, we all know the same way we’re born, eventually, someday we’re going to die. But to kind of have to face this in the middle of a crisis where we don’t even know like: Is there a cure? Well, you know, what’s the medication? What’s going to happen with our families? And then you start seeing the stories…on a daily basis of young people, people in their 20s, children of all age,  and so we are living with this fear, not knowing ‘At what point am I going to get it? And how is my system going to react to it?’

I think that the lessons we learned, one of the biggest lessons learned here is: you’ve got to be prepared. How do you prepare for this kind of thing? You know, we kind of go through life on a day to day thinking, ‘Okay, I need to prepare for today. What’s my, what’s my assignment for today, I’m going to call and get a permanent release. And I’m going to get my cameraman lined up, and I’m going to get my editor ready, and we’re going to do this.’ We’re preparing for the now, for the now. But there’s, you know, tomorrow and the day after that, and the week after that and the month after that, and there’s so many things that we don’t think about, but this pandemic has put it in our faces, you know, hit us on the forehead, like, ‘Hey, wake up, wake up! Are you ready? Are you ready for this?’ Nobody was ready for this. And we’re like reinventing the wheel every day as we go along, trying to figure out our lives in the middle of this health crisis that’s just not here in the U.S., but it’s in the entire world.

Susana G Baumann 7:54

Correct. Yes. One thing that you mentioned was really, very, very powerful on the inability to be there for your losses, for the people who are passing. I know personally, friends who lost their parents. And like you said, they were not able to even say the goodbyes…rituals are important in any society, and this pandemic put us totally on hold for those very traditional rituals that help us cope with the losses. 

Two sides of the pandemic: from despair to hope 

Damaris then shared various stories of individuals in the pandemic, from the hardships of being an essential healthcare worker to how a small business owner found hope and success helping others. 

Damaris Diaz 8:41

One of the first stories that I covered that really hit hard for me and for so many viewers was a nurse in New York City. She works as a nurse, and so you know, a lot of our first responders were the first ones to get COVID because they had to work there without masks without, you know, the gloves without all the safety precautions because the hospitals weren’t prepared. And so she got COVID, she had to isolate herself, her kids were sent somewhere else. Her mom would leave her food, along with other relatives, at her doorstep. And she’s thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen to me? What’s going to happen to my mom, if she gets it? What’s gonna happen to my children? When can I see them?’ So when she finally got clear to go back to work, she drives across –she lives in Jersey– she drives across the George Washington Bridge, and she said, it was like this magnetic pool, just trying to pull her back to New Jersey, like ‘Go home, don’t do this. And she said, you know, she kept thinking, I have a duty I have to do this. So she said, ‘Oh, God just helped me get past the bridge. Once I get past the bridge, maybe when I get to the parking facility, maybe I’ll have the courage to go.’ 

So she’d park in her car and cry. She’d walk to the hospital and she’d still feel that magnetic pool saying to her, don’t do this go home and just be with your family because the world as we know it has changed and you know, and our lives could end tomorrow. And that’s when she heard the applause. Her shift started when the applause began every night around 7pm. And she says those applause were the ones that got her through, got her through those doors, got her to, you know, to her posts and helping people day after day. But she said she cried, every single day  she drove to work. And you know, now it’s almost a year later, and she’s still working as a nurse, and she probably still feels conflicted. But she’s got a duty, you know. 

I think that when I got into journalism, I thought, I just want to tell happy stories. There’s so many things that are happening in the world that are going to make us sad, that are going to make us feel crushed, I want to tell happy stories. And I’ve been very fortunate to travel the world, to interview celebrities, and movie sets, sports figures, artists, on red carpets, I’ve had the blessing and the luck to do that. But you know, the reality is, that that’s not everything. We suffer through sadness, we suffer through loss, we suffer through pain. And there are a lot of stories out there to be told, you know, of very strong women that have a voice and deserve for their stories to be told. 

So for me, that was such an honor to be able to tell her story, even though it broke my heart. And even though my voice is cracking, as I was interviewing her, you know, as a Latina, you’re, you’re raised to be strong, like, don’t shed a tear. And if you shed a tear, don’t let anyone see you. And so you know, it’s like, wow, this, this pandemic has taken a couple layers off of me, off of the way I’ve allowed the world to see me.

Susana G Baumann 11:31

This has been tremendously challenging for all families, and especially for women. So what are the good stories? Because also, the pandemic has brought, you know, some fantastic ways that he has transformed our lives for good. What do you think they are? 

Damaris Diaz 12:39

Oh, wow, telling good stories is something that I could do with my eyes closed, because it just makes me feel good. And I know that that’s the effect that we have on people when we tell these stories. 

So recently, I interviewed a– una Dominicana de Nueva York, who started her own business before the pandemic. She learned how to make these beautiful, like balloon arrangements. And she said, ‘You know what, we need to celebrate everything, you know, it’s not just a birthday, or Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate everything, let’s make people happy.’ So she learned how to make these balloons, she started to make them and deliver them and she said, ‘I was bringing joy to people. And then the pandemic happened. And it was like we weren’t allowed to be happy. Because everything has to be canceled, celebrations were canceled. We couldn’t even have a barbecue and get together with our family.’  So she started to do these courses online to help people to learn how to make them and she’d send them all the links, ‘You need to buy the supplies. And these are the cheapest ones. And I’m going to give you a whole how-to, right here right now virtually.’

And she said it’s so important to continue to celebrate our children, especially. Kids that are now being homeschooled, that, you know, who knows how their futures are going to look with this experience. This is a traumatic experience for so many children, you know, forget the fact that ‘Oh, you can’t hang out with my friends and I can’t do my extracurricular activities.’ But a lot of them had to see their grandparents die, you know, their loss of their parents, loss of the other relatives, loss of friends. And so you know, their lives are being formed right now. And this woman said, ‘It’s so important to celebrate them. So I wanted to teach parents how to make these beautiful balloon arrangements.’ And so her business went from starting out to nothing to online to now helping other people.

You might be interested: Stacie de Armas on breaking stereotypes and advocating for Latinas 

There are so many beautiful stories to be told. Yesterday, the Despierta America live, we were at a vaccination center in the Yankee Stadium. It’s open 24 seven, right? So you would think the line would wrap around the entire block considering we’ve been anxiously waiting for this vaccine. But what’s happening? Our Latinos, our African American brothers and sisters are having so much trouble having access to the vaccine. First of all, you go online, and it sends you from one thing to the other to the other, and you can’t figure it out and you think you have an appointment, just to be evaluated to see if you can get the vaccine. And you never even had an appointment for that. 

covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

And there’s this woman in Pennsylvania, her name is Bibi, and online, she started to help people have access to the vaccine. So if you if I called her and said, ‘Listen, girl, I can’t figure this out. My mom needs a vaccine. I know I’m not a priority right now. But she is,’ she will go online, help walk you through the steps, and the next phone call or email you get from her is: Hey, your appointment for your vaccination is on Tuesday, April, whatever. And she’s doing this in her free time. This is an entrepreneur, her little business is suffering. She’s a mother of two, she’s homeschooling her two daughters, she’s got her husband, she’s got to take care of her family and her life. And she’s taking all of her free time to help people that need this service. 

Preparing for the unexpected with Prudential

Lastly, Susana and Damaris discussed the importance of life insurance, especially in such an uncertain time such as now. Culturally, many older Latinos still live by old norms, expecting their children will be around to take care of them in their old age. But this pandemic has opened our eyes to show us that tomorrow is not guaranteed and one never knows when a crisis or health emergency might strike which is why families need to plan now and have these conversations now to be ready for whatever may come in the future. One of the ways to prepare is through life insurance. Prudential 

Susana G Baumann 17:01

So what makes you believe that a company like Prudential can lessen these effects of the devastation of Latino families, especially, you know, those that worry about their finances, and don’t know if they’re gonna make it to the end of the pandemic?

Damaris Diaz 19:01

Well, Prudential, first of all, speaks our language. So whether you’re bilingual or not, Prudential speaks our language. So they’re there to help us and they are experts in this field. I mean, they’ve been around since 1875, before you and I were ever on this planet, and it’s the largest insurance carrier in the United States. So they are the go to place….They understand our community, our values and they know what matters. Like you said, culturally, as we get older, we’re thinking our kids are going to take care of us, right? My mom still has that hope. She still has that hope that my sister, my brother, and I are going to care for her in her older years, because that’s what she was taught. And that’s what my grandparents believed. My grandfather was taken care of by all of his children, seven children, and all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren, until the day he passed about a year and a half ago. We were by his bedside. And before that he, you know, in hospice, every single day, my aunt was there taking care of him, 24/7. 

That’s a full time job and not a full time job, like a 40 hour, you know, full time gig that we would have. Twenty-four seven. And so you know, what we need to plan financially for those situations. 

And those are conversations that we don’t want to have, especially, as a younger person, it’s like, I’m not gonna think about that I have my whole life ahead of me. Really? Something could happen to me tomorrow, and I could be bed bound, God forbid, you know? Tomorrow is now. Like, we have to plan now. And so that’s when a company like Prudential steps in. Prudential understands that  we have different stories. It’s not a one size fits all situation. And so when you speak to one of the experts at Prudential they come knowing what our struggles are.They understand that we speak a different language. It’s not just that hablamos español, we speak a whole different cultural language.

You know, 52% of Latinos do not have an emergency savings.” (Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash)

When my father passed, he was 61 years old, and he passed after a heart attack, years ago, that was like the eye opener for me. I would have never thought about life insurance until that happened. But I remember growing up and hearing them talking about that, and I used to think these people are crazy. They’re planning their death, like they’re buying life insurance….But you know, that’s just the ignorance in a person like myself at that age where I didn’t want to think about tomorrow.

We have to think about tomorrow, we need to have emergency savings, and not just for a month or two months. As hard as that may seem….You know, 52% of Latinos do not have an emergency savings. And that’s proven. And so many people are worried, like ‘how are we going to do this?’ 

It’s not too late. Yes, we’re in a pandemic. Yes, a lot of people have lost their jobs. Yes, we’re in a huge economic crisis, but it’s not too late. Prudential believes that one of the best ways to feel empowered and supported is to learn, educate ourselves, on our finances, have these conversations as hard as they may seem. 

Susana G Baumann 25:00

Thank you so much for your time. We know that’s a challenge for us, for Latinos, for small businesses and uh, but we need to learn to talk about money. We need to talk about money with our children, with our families, with our parents and to plan for the future. 

For more information and resources from Prudential, visit www.Prudential.com/tuSumas