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America in Crisis – COVID-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is quickly changing the way we live. The terms “self-quarantine”, “social distancing,” and “isolation” are often mentioned by the media. What do they mean, and how do we apply them to our families and communities?

What is self-quarantine?
A person who has been exposed to COVID-19 may decide to self-quarantine or voluntarily refrain from going out of his/her home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend self-quarantine for 14 days.

What is social distancing?
Social distancing means avoiding places where large numbers of people gather. For example: shopping centers, conferences, sporting events, and classes. According to the CDC, social distancing includes avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of approximately (6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. The cancellations of events and closings are social measures designed to minimize possible exposure to someone carrying COVID-19.

What is isolation?
Isolation means a person who has contracted a communicable disease is completely separated from others. According to the CDC, for public health purposes, isolation may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health orders. The person is kept away from everyone with the exception of health care providers, who will care for the person wearing protective gear.

The coronavirus is spread through respiratory vapor, such as when someone sneezes or coughs in the air around another person. According to the CDC, handwashing can prevent about 20% of respiratory infections. 

Know The COVID-19 Facts

A map of the world with text "Covid-19 Need to know....."

According to the CDC, illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illnesses resulting in death. The CDC says information so far suggests that most COVID-19 cases are mild, while China suggests serious illness in 16% of the cases.

Watch for symptoms:
• Fever
• Cough
• Shortness of breath

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 according to the CDC. People who things they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay at home when sick.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then toss it in the trash.
• Wash hands!
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

To stay up to date about the COVID-19 virus, visit

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, an awareness campaign held by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating practices, and committing to physical activity habits.

The theme for 2020, “Eat Right, Bite by Bite”, promotes eating a variety of nutritious foods daily and planning & creating healthy meals each week. “Developing healthful eating habits does not mean undertaking drastic lifestyle changes,” said nutritionist Jerlyn Jones, a national spokesperson for the Academy based in Atlanta, GA.

Eat Right, Bite by Bite campaign health tips for 2020:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Watch portion sizes. Get out those measuring cups!
  3. Be active.
  4. Drink plenty of water.
  5. Reduce added sugars.
  6. Get to know food labels.
  7. Explore more foods and flavors

National Nutrition Month is a great time to “spring clean the diet plan” and remember every bite counts.

Nagging Cough

Everyone coughs, some more than others. Many people have experienced a cough caused by a cold or flu, the kind of cough that comes on strong for a few days during an illness, and then tapers off as we start to feel better. What if the cough just won’t go away? While having a cough is not normally harmful, there are times when it could be hinting at other serious conditions.

What is a nagging cough?
A nagging cough is often a persistent dry cough that has lasted 3 weeks or longer. The cough can hang around after the cold and flu symptoms have resolved. A nagging or lingering cough is a frustrating symptom that can affect work, sleep, and social or recreational activities.

A cough is considered “acute” if it lasts less than three weeks and “chronic” if it lasts longer than eight weeks. Some causes of a nagging cough include:
• Postnasal drip
• Treatment with ACE inhibitors
• Heart failure
• Psychological disorders
• Asthma
• Smoking

The fatigue and discomfort of a nagging cough are annoying enough without scheduling a doctor’s appointment. However, lingering coughs could hint at a more serious illness. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if a cough lingers for weeks, especially one that brings up sputum or blood, disturbs sleep or affects school or work.

Is Your Home Prepared for Knee Surgery?

Knee pain is a common issue, and most people will experience it at some point in their lives. Many learn to live with knee pain. However, if the pain becomes so severe that daily activities become hard to perform, knee replacement surgery might become the only option.

Preparation for knee replacement surgery begins several weeks before the date of the surgery. Everyone who has this surgery must follow a fairly strict regimen of therapy and rest to heal properly and avoid complications. It is important to prepare for the surgery physically, but it is equally important to make sure the home is ready as well. Before going to the hospital for surgery, there are some things that need to be checked to make sure the transition from hospital to home is as smooth and comfortable as possible. Below are a few ideas to help prepare the home:

  1. Set up a bed on the first floor if possible.
  2. Have a bathroom or portable commode on the same floor where most of the day is spent.
  3. Stock up on canned or frozen easy to fix meals.
  4. Make sure everything is within reach without getting on the tiptoes or bending low.
  5. Have medication within easy reach.
  6. Use a walker, cane, shower chair, and other helpful devices during recovery.

Recovering from knee replacement surgery can make doing the simplest tasks a challenge. Ask a loved one to stay throughout the recovery period. Additionally, ask your doctor about sending home health. Home health can help with wound care, medication management, pain management, fall prevention, and more.

Are Facemasks Effective?

Facemasks or surgical masks might help protect against cold and flu season – or in times of an outbreak, like the coronavirus. But how much protection do the masks provide?

Surgical masks are loose-fitting and disposable masks approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as medical devices. Doctors, dentists, and nurses often wear them while treating patients. These masks prevent drops of body fluids that may contain viruses from escaping via the nose and mouth. The masks also protect against splashes or sprays from others, such as sneezes and coughs. The downside is that these masks don’t prevent the inhalation of small, airborne contaminants.

With everyone on edge about the current outbreak of 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV), how effective are the facemasks? Wearing a facemask might help prevent influenza as the virus spreads droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. A mask could protect a person from inhaling these droplets if it were worn consistently and fully covering the mouth and nose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the facemasks are for people who are sick with a virus or believed to be infected, and for those who live with or care for them. There is no recommendation for the general public to start wearing facemasks for coronavirus. CDC advises washing hands frequently to prevent the spread of illness such as the flu. 

Chocolate for Heart Health

Oh, what a glorious feeling to give and receive love. Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on chocolate, and it’s a safe bet that Valentine’s Day accounts for a decent percentage of the total. While a heart-shaped box of chocolates seems like the opposite of healthy, hundreds of studies have found chocolate – especially dark chocolate – keeps the heart and blood vessels in good shape. 

Here is a “sweet” heart tip:
According to Katherin L. Carson, PhD, State Program Leader for Food Safety and Nutrition and Janis G. Hunter of Clemson University, dark chocolate provides some specific health benefits that other varieties of chocolate do not. It may help to:
• Lower blood pressure
• Improve blood flow to the heart
• Lower “bad” LDL cholesterol
• Improve insulin resistance
• Promote feelings of relaxation

The trick of choosing the healthiest dark chocolate is to check the label for 60 to 70 percent cacao. The darker chocolate has a smaller amount of sugar added, but a healthy amount of flavanols makes it a good choice for the sweet tooth craving. 
When it comes to dark chocolate or cocoa, the American Heart Association suggests one to two ounces a day for the general population. Keep in mind that about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate is about the size of ¼ cup of chocolate chips.

While supporting American Heart Health month, show some love and give dark chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is a heart-healthy food that tastes good, so enjoy in moderation!


  1. Cason, K.L., & Hunter, J.G. (2015, February 26). When it Comes to Chocolate, Choose Dark. Retrieved from

Health Risks of Ultra-Processed Foods

Before reaching for another slice of pizza or a chicken nugget, it might be worth taking a closer look at what eating too many processed foods could mean for your health. From potential risks like weight gain to heart disease, filling the diet with processed foods may not be worth the delicious pleasure or convenience. 

But we need to ask ourselves, what exactly is ultra-processed food? Ultra-processed foods are defined as ready-to-eat and microwaveable foods, such as bread, breakfast cereal, chicken nuggets, candies, chips, and artificially sweetened beverages. Ultra-processed food is a food item that has undergone a chemical or mechanical alteration to change or preserve it. Technically a “processed food” is any food that’s been changed before eating it, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

What are some of the health risks effects of ultra-processed foods?
• Increased cancer risk
• Obesity
• Type 2 diabetes
• Heart disease

How to reduce processed foods from the diet?
• Check labels – the longer the ingredient list, the more processed the food is.
• Opt for minimally processed meats – seafood and chicken while avoiding items like sausage and cured meats.
• Start slowly – exchange processed foods with more fresh foods.
• Cook more meals at home.

It would be difficult to remove all heavily processed foods from the diet. Eating less processed food doesn’t have to be complicated. Buy more whole or minimally processed foods or do the processing yourself. Embrace home cooking for fun and health. 

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month to emphasize the importance of getting regular comprehensive eye exams. Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide, and in its early stages, has no noticeable symptoms. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can get glaucoma, but certain groups are at higher risks. These groups include African Americans over age 40, all people over age 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people who have diabetes.

There are several types of glaucoma. The two main types are open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle develops slowly and has symptoms and damage that are not noticed. Angle-closure can develop quickly, is painful, and visual loss can progress quickly.

Glaucoma is not curable, but early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent vision loss. It is recommended that those groups who are at high risk for glaucoma should get a complete eye exam every one to two years.

To learn more about glaucoma and to help raise awareness of this “silent thief of sight,” visit:

Sweet as Sugar: The Dangers of Added Sugar

People love eating treats such as cake, cookies, and ice cream that were sweetened by sugar. When sugar is mixed into foods and beverages to enhance flavoring and longevity, it is referred to as added sugar. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a daily intake of added sugar less than ten percent of daily calorie intake. Consuming too much added sugar can lead to various health problems which may eventually lead to death. A high intake of added sugar can cause heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and weight gain. Sugar also occurs naturally in healthy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains.

Here are a couple of tips on how to stay healthy by cutting back on added sugars:

•  Read the labels. Check the nutrition facts label on the packaging of your food. It typically gives you information about its added sugars. There are various types of added sugars that could be listed. The amount of sugar in your food, often measured in grams, is also listed on the nutrition facts label.
•  Have a healthy diet. Find healthier alternatives to the sweet food and drinks with added sugar. Replace beverages such as soda with water and low-fat or fat-free milk. Satisfy sweet cravings with small amounts of whole foods. Talk with your doctor or caregiver about the recommended foods and beverages to include in your healthy diet.

Sugar may taste sweet, but the health effects are less so.