People’s Pharmacy: Are you trading coffee convenience for higher cholesterol? – Greensboro News & Record

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Q: You’ve written about coffee raising cholesterol unless it is filtered to remove cafestol and kahweol. My brother has been using only Keurig coffeemakers for the past 10 years. He is experiencing high cholesterol and memory problems. Do the Keurig devices raise cholesterol, since they do not have filters for the coffee grounds?

Answer: Keurig-type machines that use “K-cups” or “pods” to make a single serving of coffee have become extremely popular. If you take a K-cup apart, you will find a filter in it. We don’t know whether that filter removes cafestol and kahweol. Consequently, we can’t say with certainty that your brother’s coffee habit affects his cholesterol. We suspect, though, that it’s less likely to pose problems.

Recent research shows that drinkers of black coffee have higher “good” HDL cholesterol (Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, online, Nov. 2, 2020). If people add milk, cream or sugar, however, the HDL benefits disappear.

Q: I am unable to get the flu shot due to an allergy to egg lecithin. Will the COVID-19 vaccine have egg protein in it as well? I have asthma and am susceptible to bronchitis.

Answer: At this time, the Food and Drug Administration is considering two anti-COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use authorization. Both use the new mRNA technology, which completely bypasses the need for eggs in producing the vaccine.

We usually say we can’t second-guess the FDA, but we do anticipate that one or both of these vaccines will be made available for people at high risk. When the time comes for you to get vaccinated, be sure to ask which vaccine you will be getting. If it is from Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech, you won’t need to worry about egg protein.

Q: I took Zoloft for depression for 22 years, and it worked well. The cost of the name brand got too high, so I tried generic sertraline.

I have had serious problems with this (dizziness, spacing out while driving, disorientation for three to four hours post-dose, return of depression symptoms three to four days after change). I found one generic that works for me, but pharmacies are dumping it to save a few dollars per prescription. I have not done well with generic sertraline from several other companies.

Mix and match generics are not good for me. I believe FDA standards for bioequivalence are inadequate. I’ve read what you’ve written about authorized generic medicines. How can I find one?

Answer: Authorized generics are licensed by the original manufacturer and must follow the identical recipe as the branded product. Other generic products have to be reverse-engineered and may have different inactive ingredients.

We received this message from another reader:

“Greenstone sells the authorized generic sertraline. I bought 180 pills for $45, as I didn’t want to wait for insurance approval. I had to pay $500 for 45 Pfizer pills before this.

“Now the pills look exactly like the Pfizer brand name ones. It’s even stamped ‘Zoloft’ on one side. I guess they are just taking the pills off the same assembly line and bottling them as Greenstone. I have transitioned from the Pfizer-branded Zoloft to Greenstone sertraline and have not noticed any difference.”

You can learn more about authorized generics in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. This online resource is available in the Health eGuides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Millions In China Under New Restrictions Amid COVID-19 Spike Near Beijing – NPR

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, medical workers take swabs from residents in Shijiazhuang in north China’s Hebei province on Jan. 6. Authorities have announced new restrictions to contain the coronavirus. Mu Yu/AP hide caption

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Mu Yu/AP

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, medical workers take swabs from residents in Shijiazhuang in north China’s Hebei province on Jan. 6. Authorities have announced new restrictions to contain the coronavirus.

Mu Yu/AP

Authorities in China are imposing new coronavirus restrictions near Beijing after a spate of recent outbreaks.

The Associated Press reports that the cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, in the Hebei province, have issued seven-day stay-at-home orders after a week in which more than 300 people tested positive for the coronavirus.

Multiple outlets have reported that local officials announced restrictions on outbound travel from Shijiazhuang, which is home to 11 million residents, as well as bans on gatherings, school suspensions and the closing off of some villages and residential communities.

Beijing is also requiring workers from the province to provide proof that they work in the city and a negative coronavirus test to enter. Entry points into Beijing, the AP says citing Chinese media, had hourslong backups on Friday.

The South China Morning Post quotes province officials as saying the lockdown in Shijiazhuang is necessary for the “political security” of Beijing, which borders the province.

The SCMP goes on to report that many cases in Shijiazhuang were tied to a series of weddings, funerals and other events in a rural village under the city’s administration.

CNN reported this week that some 3,000 health care workers had been dispatched to the city to carry out a massive testing drive. By Thursday, more than 6 million samples had been collected, and some 2 million tested.

By Saturday, more than 40,000 medical professionals had been mobilized to conduct tests on some 13 million people in four cities, the SCMP reported.

These newest restrictions are drawing comparisons to the lockdown in Wuhan, which began last January, ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. The city in Hubei province, which was the pandemic’s first epicenter, closed its border and restricted movement for 76 days before new cases started to dwindle.

Since then, China was thought to turn something of a corner on the pandemic, maintaining relatively low new cases compared to the U.S. and much of the world.

Reuters reports that the outbreak in Shijiazhuang accounted for most the country’s new cases on Thursday. In all, China has confirmed more than 96,600 coronavirus cases and 4,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

High cholesterol: Soya beans have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce health risks – Express

Very high levels of cholesterol may be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and death. Fortunately, these terrifying health risks can be reduced by lowering your cholesterol levels. Adding more soya beans to your diet is one way to help lower your levels.

Researchers examined 43 trials to evaluate the effect soy had on LDL levels. (High LDL levels can lead to a build-up of cholesterol in arteries and increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.)

It was found that, on average, eating 25 grams of soy protein per day, over a six-week period, lowered LDL levels by about 3 percent to 4 percent, which is a small but still significant amount.

Soy is used to make many food products, such as tofu, soy milk, and veggie burgers and other meat substitutes, as well as a protein powder for smoothies.

About 3.5 cups of soy milk or a large scoop of soy protein powder equals 25 grams of soy protein.

Soya beans are a nutritious food containing protein, fibre, unsaturated fats and a range of vitamins and minerals, and as part of a healthy, balanced diet, soya beans could still help to lower cholesterol, said the British Heart Foundation.

The health site continued: “That’s because replacing foods high in saturated fat with those containing unsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol.

“Soya beans, or soya products made from them such as tofu, soya chunks or mince, can be used as a replacement for fatty or processed meats.”

Alongside a diet rich in protein and added soya beans, exercise is key when it comes to lowering levels of cholesterol.

Dietician Helen Bond said: “Cholesterol can change quite quickly, which is why exercise and eating healthy should be embedded into your everyday routine.

“But we’re talking a few weeks, rather than days – the odd meal or day where you eat a bit more than usual (including too much saturated fat) won’t make a difference to your cholesterol levels in the long run, but if your healthy eating and exercise habits have totally gone out the window during the lockdown, this could have a big impact on your cholesterol levels and your weight.

“Therefore, if your habits have changed over lockdown, now’s the time to reinstate healthy eating habits and get daily exercise (within UK Government guidelines to stay active and stay safe) before those new overindulgences become a habit that’s hard to break.” 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: January 8, 2021 – FDA.gov

For Immediate Release:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continued to take action in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The FDA alerted clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 may lead to false negative results with molecular tests for SARS-CoV-2. The Letter to Clinical Laboratory Staff and Health Care Providers includes important information about potential false negative results with molecular tests, including:
    • Details on the effect of genetic variants on test performance.
    • Recommendations for clinical laboratory staff and health care providers.
    • Actions the FDA has taken.  
    • Instructions for reporting problems with a test. 
  • This week, the FDA posted a new webpage, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions. Questions cover specifics, such as what data did the FDA review when deciding whether to authorize the vaccine for emergency use, how well the vaccine prevents COVID-19, and more.
  • A U.S. District Court in Georgia granted a consent decree of permanent injunction against Fusion Health and Vitality LLC, Fusion Ionz LLC and Matthew Ryncarz for violating federal law by distributing products containing vitamin D and hordenine HCl, as preventions or treatments for COVID-19. The order of permanent injunction that the Court issued permanently prohibits the defendants from, among other things, selling or distributing unapproved new drugs or misbranded drugs with claims that the products can cure, mitigate, treat or prevent diseases in people, including COVID-19.  In addition, the injunction permanently prohibits defendants from selling or distributing dietary supplements containing hordenine HCl because hordenine HCl is an unsafe food additive. In May, FDA issued a warning letter to the defendants for fraudulently promoting violative products on a number of websites. In the warning letter, the FDA requested that they immediately correct their violations, which they did not do.  
    • “Americans expect and deserve medical treatments that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective. Making claims that unproven drugs can cure or prevent diseases, including COVID-19, places consumers’ health at risk,” said FDA Chief Counsel Stacy Amin. “We remain committed to pursuing and taking swift action against those who attempt to subvert the regulatory functions of the FDA by repeatedly disregarding the law and distributing unapproved products.” 
    • The FDA is particularly concerned that fraudulent products that claim to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent serious diseases like COVID-19 may cause consumers to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm. The FDA reminds the public to seek medical help from their health care providers and urges people to talk to their health care provider about treatment options.
  • Testing updates:
    • As of today, 311 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by the FDA under emergency use authorizations (EUAs). These include 235 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 64 antibody tests, and 12 antigen tests. There are 32 molecular authorizations that can be used with home-collected samples. There is one molecular prescription at-home test, one antigen prescription at-home test, and one over-the-counter (OTC) at-home antigen test.
       

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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Related Information

Does Everyone Have Anxiety? – Healthline

We all deal with the occasional bout of anxiety. This uncomfortable reaction to stress is normal but often temporary.

For many people, the feelings of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness typically pass once the stress or threat is gone. But for millions of others, the persistent racing thoughts, fear, and constant worry overrun both mind and body.

Read on to learn why everyone has anxiety, how to tell the difference between nervousness and anxiety, how anxiety is diagnosed and treated, and things you can do right now if you feel nervous or anxious.

Anxiety is a physical and emotional response to a stressful situation. It can manifest as excessive worry, fear, panic, or a feeling of impending doom.

Additionally, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

If you have an anxiety disorder, you’ll often experience these feelings even in the absence of a stressor. You may also experience anxiety in anticipation of a future concern.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), it’s estimated that 19.1 percent of U.S. adults had an anxiety disorder in the past year. Moreover, around 31.1 percent of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetimes.

Feeling nervous is a “yes” box that everyone can check at some point.

Whether it’s nerves from starting a job, going on a first date, or competing in an event, your body responds to new and often stressful situations with a mixture of uneasiness, anticipation, and excitement.

This feeling is temporary, and once you settle in or the event is over, the physical response to feeling nervous often passes.

But for some people, nerves are just the beginning of a continuous cycle of anxious thoughts and feelings that don’t pass when the event is over. Typically, the fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the situation, and it hinders your ability to function normally with daily tasks and routines.

In general, everyone will feel anxious at some point.

Worry is considered protective since it alerts you to danger. This makes you pay attention to the stressful situation and react accordingly. For most people, this feeling typically passes and you go about your life.

But if the anxiety turns excessive and you find yourself overwhelmed, feeling out of control, and worrying about situations that others see as nonthreatening, you may have an anxiety disorder.

What you can do right now if you feel anxious

Feeling anxious or nervous? Here are some strategies that can help take the edge off.

  • Make time for daily meditation. Even if it’s just a 5-minute break each day, taking time to meditate can help calm nerves and decrease anxiety symptoms.
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing. Otherwise known as belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing involves inhaling deeply through the nose and breathing out through the mouth. This type of breathing can help reduce negative and physiological consequences of stress in healthy adults, according to a 2017 study.
  • Move your body through physical activity or exercise. Exercise is an excellent tool for reducing anxiety. If possible, get outdoors. Taking a 10-minute walk is often enough to help distract your mind from racing thoughts.
  • Get it out on paper. Have a journal close by to jot down your thoughts or feelings when anxious. You don’t have to do anything about your feelings. Sometimes getting them out of your head and onto paper provides relief.
  • Skip your daily dose of caffeine. If your morning cup of coffee causes the jitters, you may want to opt for herbal tea.
  • Stick to a healthy, regular diet. Eating a healthy diet that includes regular meals and snacks keeps your blood sugar levels balanced, which helps keep your anxiety and nervousness in check.
  • Give yourself permission to say no. If a social obligation is triggering nerves or anxiety, respectfully decline the invite or have an exit strategy that allows you to leave a stressful situation.

A physician and some types of mental health professionals can diagnose anxiety.

They’ll use a combination of diagnostic tests, physical assessments, and criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to determine if you have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is treated using a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and self-management strategies such as lifestyle interventions and stress reduction.

Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” is the most common way to treat anxiety. Working with a therapist can help you understand anxiety, how it impacts your life, and tips and strategies to manage symptoms.

Therapists may use one type of psychotherapy or combine modalities. Some of the more common therapy types include:

Both in-person and teletherapy (online therapy) sessions are available.

A 2015 review found that overall, CBT appears to be effective and efficacious in treating anxiety disorders.

Further, 2014 research on CBT for anxiety disorders looked at 44 studies and concluded that CBT is moderately effective for improving quality of life in people with anxiety disorders.

Medications for anxiety help relieve the symptoms associated with the disorder. To treat anxiety, your doctor may use antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers, which can help treat the physical symptoms.

Lifestyle interventions such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing, journaling, and peer support can help manage anxiety symptoms.

With the proper treatment protocol, the outlook for people with anxiety is positive.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, combining psychotherapy with medication and other interventions can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

That said, they point out that treatment success varies and depends on the severity of the anxiety and other co-existing conditions.

Everyone experiences occasional bouts of anxiety and nervousness.

Whether it’s the anticipation of a new job, nerves before meeting someone, or the uneasiness you feel when facing a potentially dangerous situation, anxiety is a normal reaction to stress.

However, when this normal reaction turns excessive and you find yourself overly worried and anxious about things like daily tasks or situations that others see as nonthreatening, you may have an anxiety disorder.

If this is the case, consider making an appointment with a doctor. They can do a general exam and refer you to a mental health professional.

People’s Pharmacy: Are you trading coffee convenience for higher cholesterol? – Winston-Salem Journal

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Q. You’ve written about coffee raising cholesterol unless it is filtered to remove cafestol and kahweol. My brother has been using only Keurig coffeemakers for the past 10 years. He is experiencing high cholesterol and memory problems. Do the Keurig devices raise cholesterol, since they do not have filters for the coffee grounds?

A. Keurig-type machines that use “K-cups” or “pods” to make a single serving of coffee have become extremely popular. If you take a K-cup apart, you will find a filter in it. We don’t know whether that filter removes cafestol and kahweol. Consequently, we can’t say with certainty that your brother’s coffee habit affects his cholesterol. We suspect, though, that it’s less likely to pose problems.

Recent research shows that drinkers of black coffee have higher “good” HDL cholesterol (Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, online, Nov. 2, 2020). If people add milk, cream or sugar, however, the HDL benefits disappear.

Q. I am unable to get the flu shot due to an allergy to egg lecithin. Will the COVID-19 vaccine have egg protein in it as well? I have asthma and am susceptible to bronchitis.

A. At this time, the Food and Drug Administration is considering two anti-COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use authorization. Both use the new mRNA technology, which completely bypasses the need for eggs in producing the vaccine.

We usually say we can’t second-guess the FDA, but we do anticipate that one or both of these vaccines will be made available for people at high risk. When the time comes for you to get vaccinated, be sure to ask which vaccine you will be getting. If it is from Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech, you won’t need to worry about egg protein.

Q. I took Zoloft for depression for 22 years, and it worked well. The cost of the name brand got too high, so I tried generic sertraline.

I have had serious problems with this (dizziness, spacing out while driving, disorientation for three to four hours post-dose, return of depression symptoms three to four days after change). I found one generic that works for me, but pharmacies are dumping it to save a few dollars per prescription. I have not done well with generic sertraline from several other companies.

Mix and match generics are not good for me. I believe FDA standards for bioequivalence are inadequate. I’ve read what you’ve written about authorized generic medicines. How can I find one?

A. Authorized generics are licensed by the original manufacturer and must follow the identical recipe as the branded product. Other generic products have to be reverse-engineered and may have different inactive ingredients.

We received this message from another reader:

“Greenstone sells the authorized generic sertraline. I bought 180 pills for $45, as I didn’t want to wait for insurance approval. I had to pay $500 for 45 Pfizer pills before this.

“Now the pills look exactly like the Pfizer brand name ones. It’s even stamped ‘Zoloft’ on one side. I guess they are just taking the pills off the same assembly line and bottling them as Greenstone. I have transitioned from the Pfizer-branded Zoloft to Greenstone sertraline and have not noticed any difference.”

You can learn more about authorized generics in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. This online resource is available in the Health eGuides section at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

12 Tips for Managing Anxiety, Depression During COVID-19 – Healthline

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The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered worsening symptoms for many who are living with anxiety or depression, while simultaneously making it more difficult to get treatment. Justin Case/Getty Images
  • Prescription fills for depression and anxiety peaked in 2020.
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety have worsened during the pandemic.
  • There are ways to help with the cost of depression and anxiety medications.

The pandemic has caused mental strain for many people across the world. And for those living with anxiety and depression, the impact is harsh.

According to a report from GoodRx, prescription fills for depression and anxiety drugs reached an all-time peak in 2020.

The survey of 1,000 Americans who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression found that 63 percent of people reported their anxiety or depression symptoms were “worse” or “much worse” during the COVID-19 pandemic than they were before.

“Living through a stressful situation, such as financial insecurity, family upheaval, trauma, loss, or of course, the current COVID-19 pandemic can certainly be a trigger for worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety. For folks already managing their anxiety and/or depression, life stressors can tip the balance from healthy functioning to poor mental health,” Sasha Guttentag, PhD, a research scientist at GoodRx, told Healthline.

Deborah Serani, PsyD, psychologist and professor at Adelphi University, says negative life events are the number one trigger that causes relapse or a worsening of symptoms of anxiety and depression.

In the GoodRx survey, the most commonly reported experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulty with motivation to eat healthy and exercise, which are two important factors for alleviating depression and anxiety symptoms.

“During times of crisis, self-care is often difficult to maintain. Because many of us are busy keeping the fires in our lives from spreading, we’re usually too fatigued to practice mindful eating, exercise or other refueling activities,” said Serani.

She suggests delegating chores to others, limiting doing too much in a day, and making the promise to do one self-soothing activity a day, such as taking a bath, drinking a cup of tea, taking a nap, or practicing deep breathing for 5 minutes.

When it comes to exercise, Guttentag points out that a small amount of exercise releases chemicals in the brain that automatically improve mood.

“Many people may not find it feasible to maintain their pre-pandemic exercise routines, and that’s okay. Regular exercise can still be beneficial for your mental health, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk each day or taking 5 minutes to stretch or do some yoga poses. Hobbies like gardening can also count as exercise,” she said.

For those who are finding it more difficult to make healthy eating choices, consider starting with small changes.

“For instance, if you find yourself stress eating at home, try to stock up on healthy snack options and swap out processed foods for natural alternatives with more nutritional benefits,” Guttentag said.

Despite all the stress that the pandemic brings, there are ways to help manage your mental health during COVID-19. Consider these 12 simple tips:

While prioritizing sleep isn’t always easy, Guttentag says it’s crucial for well-being.

“If anxiety or depression is affecting your sleep, consider limiting your caffeine, alcohol and nicotine intake, creating a bedtime routine, and finding a relaxing activity — like reading, journaling, or listening to quiet music — to slow your brain down before bed,” she said.

Sticking to a routine for sleep, mealtimes, exercise, and work can help manage stress.

“Studies tell us that when we keep to a schedule during traumatic or stressful times, we cope better,” Serani said.

During challenging times, finding ways to be grateful can help cope.

“When we take note of the good things in our lives, it bumps up the feel-good hormones of serotonin and dopamine,” said Serani.

Practicing mindfulness meditation has gained popularity as a way to deal with depression, anxiety, and stress, adds Guttentag.

“If you’re new to mindfulness, you can start practicing by taking a few minutes to find a quiet place, either sitting or lying down. Try to focus on your breathing and notice your inhales and exhales, allowing your thoughts and feelings to move away from you,” she said.

Although social distancing requires more time alone, Guttentag says getting support from others can help improve depression and anxiety symptoms.

“Staying connected with loved ones can be hard during the pandemic, but over time it can help you feel less lonely. In addition, many people find it helpful to work with a peer-support group, either in person or online. There are many community resources since depression and anxiety are both very common,” she said.

If you are anxious about contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, use contactless delivery and curbside services as often as possible for items like food, clothes and medications.

“Many drug stores have free delivery that you can access as well. The added stress and worry about shopping during the pandemic can be eased with these services,” said Serani.

Consider using teletherapy to keep routine check-ins and receive therapy and treatment from a mental health professional.

“Therapy can help you find new ways of thinking about your situation and skills to cope when your thoughts and feelings take over… When choosing a therapist, make sure to explore your options to find the right fit for your treatment needs, budgetary constraints, and most importantly, who you feel the most comfortable with,” said Guttentag.

If you’re unable to connect with your mental health professional and need to talk with someone immediately, resources such as the Crisis Text Line and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are available 24/7 to provide support.

According to GoodRx, 20 percent of respondents who take a prescription for depression or anxiety reported that they were unable to afford one of their medications during the pandemic, limiting prescription accessibility and causing changes in adherence to medication.

Additionally, 37 percent of respondents reported at least one issue related to administration of their medication, including missing, skipping, or rationing prescriptions; changing pharmacies; or having issues with a pharmacy refilling their prescription.

If you’re unable to afford your anxiety or depression medications, consider the following.

Because medications can vary in price from pharmacy to pharmacy, research where it makes most sense to get yours. At GoodRx you can compare prescription prices and find coupons for discounts at local pharmacies, regardless of insurance.

Serani suggests contacting the pharmaceutical company that makes your medication to ask for coupons or price reduction promo codes. Pharmaceutical companies also offer patient assistance programs to help people that are struggling to afford their medications.

To ease concerns that you might run out of medication if quarantined, in some instances, insurance providers may allow you to refill your prescription sooner than the “refill date.”

“Many companies are making accommodations like this during COVID,” Serani said.

Rather than filling medication monthly, ask your doctor to write a prescription for a 3-month supply. This may reduce the total cost of the prescription.

If your pharmacy is having trouble keeping your medication in stock, Serani recommends asking for samples of medication from your physician.

She also suggests, “[Ask] your mental health practitioner if he or she can lower the session fee if job loss, financial strain or other stressors make continuing therapy questionable.”

If COVID-19 is keeping you from visiting your doctor or pharmacy, but you need a new prescription, consider using a telemedicine service.

“Now might also be a good time to check out mail-order pharmacies — they often offer great discounts and free shipping,” said Guttentag.


CDC: Variant COVID-19 strain likely circulating in many states – CIDRAP

Today Texas, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut became the latest states to confirm cases of B117, a variant strain of the novel coronavirus that began widely circulating in the United Kingdom at the end of last year.

Harris County Public Health tweeted that a Texas man in his 30s man with no travel history has tested positive for the virus. In Pennsylvania, the case was identified after the patient had known contact with an international case.

Connecticut officials confirmed that two case-patients have been identified, including one person with a travel history to Ireland.

There are now at least 56 cases of B117 in eight states. California (26) and Florida (22) have reported the most. Single cases have also been found in New York, Florida, and Georgia, and Colorado officials have confirmed two cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will begin tracking and publicly reporting variant COVID-19 case counts in the United States and updating data on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Fast-spreading strain

CDC officials told the Washington Post they suspect the mutant variant is present in most states, and will become more common in the coming weeks. The variant is thought to be 50% more contagious than the strain that originated in Wuhan, China, 1 year ago, but so far it does not seem to cause more severe illness or symptoms.

The arrival of the variant comes as the nation begins to roll out a massive vaccination campaign meant to one day help achieve herd immunity and end the pandemic. Experts believe the current vaccines will be protective against B117 because they produce broadly neutralizing antibodies.

B117 is thought to be more transmissible because patients have a higher viral load, meaning viral particles are shed more easily through coughs and sneezes.

Record US deaths, hospitalizations

Yesterday the US reported 253,145 new COVID-19 cases, and 3,865 deaths—a grim new fatality record, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard. There are also 132,476 COVID-19 patients in US hospitals, a record high per the COVID Tracking Project.

The CDC also updated its forecast on COVID-19 fatalities, and projected that 405,000 to 438,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by Jan 30. In total, the country has 21,468,084 cases and 363,519 deaths.

According to NBC News, six states reported recorded COVID-19 highs yesterday: Louisiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, and Virginia. The surge in cases is likely tied to Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

In California, the state saw a 2-day record of COVID-19 deaths, with 1,042 deaths totaled yesterday and today across the state. Hospitals in hot spots, including Los Angeles, are threatened to be overrun in the coming weeks.

According to the Associated Press, more than 8,000 people in Los Angeles County are hospitalized with COVID-19, with a fifth of them in intensive care.

HHS announces $22 billion for testing, vaccination

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the CDC will be allocated $22 billion in the coming weeks to fund testing and vaccine distribution.

“This funding is another timely investment that will strengthen our nation’s efforts to stop the COVID-19 pandemic in America,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, in a statement.

“Particularly now, it is crucial that states and communities have the resources they need to conduct testing, and to distribute and administer safe, high-quality COVID-19 vaccines safely and equitably.”

Bodybuilding Coach Eugene Teo Shares 15-Minute Quad Workout – menshealth.com

Australian bodybuilding coach and trainer Eugene Teo is sharing his favorite pre-fatigue superset to help you grow bigger quads. (He previously shared his two favorite exercises to help you grow your quads from his “2 Best Exercises” series.) Thankfully, for anyone without access to a gym, he also shares some alternatives you can do without gear at home.

According to Teo, the combination of these exercises is perfect if you are short on time—or if you just hate long, drawn out workout sessions. This specifically emphasizes different ranges of motion and flexion to really target your quads.

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To start, do 12 to 15 reps on a leg extension machine, with a three second hold at the top of each rep.

“Leg extensions get a really bad rep with people saying they’re really bad for your knees,” says Teo. But he finds that using the machine is the most reliable ways to train your quads in its fully contracted position.

If your knees do hurt during them, it might have something to do with your set up and alignment.

“The biggest one is not lining your knee up with the pivot point of the machine, which puts a lot more stress on the joint unnecessarily,” says Teo. “Another cause is rotating your legs to hit different parts, which will come at the expense of proper joint mechanics and is something you should avoid as much as possible.”

At home, you can grab a resistance band and try a variation without the machine, which requires you to either elevate your feet on a platform or secure the band to an anchor point. “Due to the feet being placed on the ground or a bench instead of floating through space, you’ll be able to generate a little more stability around the knee joint, which may assist with things like pain,” he says.

Next, choose a squat pattern of your choice.

“I prefer something supportive like a leg press or a hack squat at this point due to the stability and how that will allow you to focus more work on the quads,” says Teo.

If you don’t have access to that gear, he says anything from a barbell squat, front squat, a goblet squat, or split squat variations will also serve. And since squats are so versatile, you can use whatever variation you choose at the gym at home, too.

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“Whatever you choose, try to choose something that has your feet at a slightly inclined position so your heels are raised slightly. This will help you get deeper into the range of motion at the knee joint, which is so important for stretching out the quads after spending time in the contracted, short position,” says Teo.

In whatever move you choose, you will be doing full and one-quarter reps, emphasizing the bottom position with the maximum stimulus being placed on the legs and emphasizing lock outs.

“To do this you will go all the way down, then a quarter of the way up, then all the way down again, then all the way back up, and that counts as one rep,” says Teo.

Do sets of 8 to 10 reps with this technique.

Overall, you should do 2 to 3 sets of each move with 2 to 3 minutes rest between sets. Overall, that should only take between 10 to 15 minutes.

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In 2007, scientists developed a method to determine the sexes of Atlantic walruses using only their jaws’ size and shape. Researchers have now put that sexing (identification of an organism’s sex) method to the test with Pacific walruses. 

There was some doubt about whether this technique would work – for one, Pacific walruses are significantly larger than their Atlantic counterparts. This size difference shows even in individual body parts, including the mandibles. 

Yet, the team, led by Nathan Taylor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, persisted in applying the sex identification strategy since, if successful, it would significantly reduce the time and financial commitment needed for researching preserved, unidentified walrus specimens. To distinguish between male and female Pacific walruses, they measured the length and height of the jawbone, the minimum jawbone depth (from about the middle point of the jaw to the back), and jaw thickness.

A female Pacific walrus and a calf

A female Pacific walrus and a calf

USFWS via Wikimedia

The scientists had to be mindful of whether the jawbones were “not fully fused” (not fully developed, unique to juvenile walruses) or “fused” (fully developed, the sign of a mature walrus). Walruses with partially fused mandibles were likely to yield misleading results. 

For example, jaws from male walruses that had not yet fully fused were similar in dimensions to mature females’ jaws. To ensure the results were accurate, they could only include fully matured, fused specimens. 

After measuring 67 modern specimens (33 of which were male, 24 belonging to females, and ten unknown) and 11 archaeological samples, the researchers concluded that jaw size is indeed a reliable body part to distinguish between male and female walruses. The most significant differences were jaw length and thickness, with females notably smaller in both categories.

A male Pacific walrus

A male Pacific walrus

Joel Garlich-Miller, USFWS, via Wikimedia

With the original sexing method now confirmed to work for Pacific walruses, scientists will be better prepared to perform several types of analyses, including measuring stable isotopes, trace elements, and hormones in study animals, with greater confidence and less risk of misidentification. 

This is a crucial finding, given the insufficient data on Pacific walrus populations, and will hopefully push conservation efforts for this species forward.