By Jason Farley
COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives, and it is poised to completely disrupt the holiday season. As people make holiday plans and think about ways to reduce the risks to their loved ones, a strategy is essential.
Are masks really necessary at family gatherings?<p>If you're gathering with friends and family who don't live in your home, yes. Just because you're with people you know doesn't mean you're safe from the coronavirus. Infection rates are <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">higher now than they have ever been</a> in the U.S., and <a href="https://youtu.be/ehdgceGzQxs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">small gatherings have been a source</a> of viral spread. All it takes is one infected person who doesn't know they have the coronavirus to infect others.</p><p>Remember, people can be <a href="https://medical.mit.edu/covid-19-updates/2020/07/how-long-symptom-onset-person-contagious" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">contagious two to three days</a> before symptoms show – that's one thing that makes this virus so hard to stop. And it's why, even if you feel fine, you should wear a mask.</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that when both people are wearing masks, the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank">likelihood of infection is low</a>.</p>
Who am I protecting when I wear a mask?<p>In a word: everyone. The coronavirus <a href="https://theconversation.com/aerosols-are-a-bigger-coronavirus-threat-than-who-guidelines-suggest-heres-what-you-need-to-know-142233" target="_blank">spreads through respiratory droplets</a> that you send out into the air when you talk, sing or even just breathe. The tiniest of these droplets can float on air currents for long periods.</p><p>Face masks stop many of those droplets, reducing the amount of virus in the air. That lowers your chances of getting infected, and it also lowers the chances that you'll infect someone else.</p><p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank">Studies of people who had prolonged exposure</a> to others with COVID-19 have demonstrated how masks can reduce the chance of the virus spreading. In general, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">well-fitted cloth masks</a> made up of multiple layers can stop most large droplets and at least half of the tiny ones. Plastic <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.05.20207241" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">face shields</a> alone are far less effective. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/08/13/cdc-mask-guidance-masks-valves/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Face masks with valves or vents</a> might be good for construction work, but they don't stop the wearer from breathing out virus into the air.</p>
Can I reuse a mask and when should I replace it?<p>Reusable masks should be kept clean and dry. We're moving into cold and flu season, and noses get drippy. A rule of thumb: Anytime a mask is wet to the point that you can discern the wetness, it's time for a new one if it's disposable, or it's time to clean your reusable mask.</p><p>Wetness allows viruses to more easily move through paper or fabric because it allows the threads to move and may reduce the electrostatic charge in the masks that add extra protection with some fabrics.</p><p>In general, you can use a mask that stays clean and dry for about a week before you need to wash or discard it.</p>
How should I clean a cloth mask?<p>Washing your mask is like washing your clothes. You know when it is time.</p><p>In general, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">cleaning your mask weekly</a> should be sufficient. If odors develop before then, it's a good idea to wash it sooner. Odor generally means bacterial buildup.</p><p>Cleaning your mask by hand with soap and water is your best option. Using a general detergent on a gentle cycle in the washing machine is also fine, but that may increase the risk of damage, depending on the quality of the material. COVID-19 is not a hardy virus. Any soap or detergent should work fine. There's no need for special chemicals, bleach or harsh soaps.</p><p>Be careful to remove any inserts before washing. Inserted filters are generally not washable.</p><p>Air drying masks works best. Remember, masks should be completely dry before use. So be sure to have a replacement mask handy while the one you just washed dries.</p><p>Sunlight is always a great source of heat to dry your mask. Also, sunlight has ultraviolet radiation, which has been shown to <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/php.13293" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eliminate coronavirus</a> and is also known to have antibacterial properties.</p>
Can I wear the mask below my nose?<p>Wearing your mask below your nose is, frankly, ridiculous.</p><p>Think about it. If you are breathing through your nose and only covering your mouth, you are effectively eliminating the point of the mask. Properly wearing a mask requires covering both your nose and mouth at all times.</p><p>Studies show that wearing a proper cloth mask or surgical mask while exercising <a href="http://doi.org/10.1513/AnnalsATS.202008-990CME" target="_blank">doesn't affect the flow of oxygen</a> or carbon dioxide in any detectable way. So, unless you have serious heart and lung problems, that isn't an excuse.</p>
How do I safely remove my mask if I’m going to eat or drink?<p>When you <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">take your mask off</a>, remove it carefully by the straps without touching anything else and put it somewhere safe, like wrapped in paper in a purse, bag or pocket. Then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. When you put it back on, wash your hands again.</p>
So, how can I have a safe holiday gathering?<p>The safest way to celebrate this year is to do so with members only within your household. The <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CDC is now stressing that point</a>, as well. If you do celebrate with friends and relatives from outside your household, you need an action plan to reduce the risk of exposure.</p><p>Here are five recommendations:</p><ul><li>Limit the number of people – fewer people means fewer opportunities for exposure, and you'll have more room to spread out.</li><li>Require masks when not eating or drinking.</li><li>Use physical distancing when eating. Try to seat people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3223" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least 6 feet apart</a>. Eat outside if you can.</li><li>Consider being tested for COVID-19 before traveling or gathering. It's not a guarantee, but it can help flag illnesses. Remember to self-isolate between the test and the event.</li><li>Be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days after traveling or participating in any event that involves people from outside your home.</li></ul><p>[<em>Research into coronavirus and other news from science</em> <a href="https://theconversation.com/us/newsletters/science-editors-picks-71/?utm_source=TCUS&utm_medium=inline-link&utm_campaign=newsletter-text&utm_content=science-corona-research" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Subscribe to The Conversation's new science newsletter</a>.]</p><p><em>The map has been updated with New Hampshire announcing a mask mandate effective Nov. 20.</em></p><p><em>Jason Farley is a professor, infectious disease-trained epidemiologist and nurse practitioner at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.<br></em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, ANP-BC, FAAN receives funding from the National Institutes of Health on the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for COVID-19 and Becton Dickinson for studies on SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-face-masks-belong-at-your-thanksgiving-gathering-7-things-you-need-to-know-about-wearing-them-150130" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Pamela M. Aaltonen
As Americans prepare for the first Thanksgiving in the time of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a stark warning a week before the big day: Don't travel.
No over the river and through the woods to grandmother's condo. No flying to a beach gathering with the family you choose.
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Alexander Freund
Finally, some good news — soon, frontrunning vaccine developers could submit applications for fast-tracked authorizations of their coronavirus vaccines.
Three companies have reported early Phase III successes in the last several days.
Open Questions<p>Many questions, however, remain unanswered. It is unclear, for instance, how effective these vaccines are, and how they affect individuals of different ages and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Little is known about whether the vaccines lead to long-term immunity, or if they can prevent severe, or indeed asymptomatic COVID-19 infections.</p><p>It is also not known how much the vaccines will cost, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-to-set-up-hundreds-of-vaccination-centers-from-december-report/a-55605652" target="_blank">who will have access to them</a> and in what quantity and at what time, and how they will be distributed around the globe.</p>
How Effective Are These Vaccines?<p>BioNTech and Pfizer claim their vaccine candidate BNT162b2 is 95% effective in preventing a COVID-19 infection. Moderna claims to have developed a candidate, mRNA-1273, that is 94.5% effective. These are unusually high figures.</p><p>By contrast, the vaccine administered for the 2018/2019 influenza season was only 21% effective, according to Germany's disease control and prevention agency, the Robert Koch Institute. This means only around one in five individuals vaccinated were protected by the influenza shot.</p><p>Achieving a vaccine that is 100% effective is practically impossible, as human bodies differ and because viruses such as the influenza pathogen mutate continuously. This explains why each year, influenza vaccines must be adapted to seasonal and emerging virus strains.</p><p>Nevertheless, vaccines significantly lower the risk of an infection. Elaborate studies ascertain the exact vaccine efficacy. It is determined by studying the antibody concentration developed in patients.</p><p>A typical randomized controlled study consists of two groups of participants. BioNTech and Pfizer assessed the efficacy of their vaccine candidate by testing it on 43,538 participants in different countries. One half of the group was administered the vaccine candidate, while the other half received a placebo. The vaccine was administered twice, with a three-week gap in between shots.</p>
Are the Vaccines Safe?<p>Independent monitoring groups registered no serious safety concerns with the vaccines being developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna. This does not, however, rule out the possibility of serious side effects occurring during large-scale testing, or when vaccines are given to persons with rare pre-existing health issues.</p><p>Intramuscular injections also bear to the risk of causing local reactions. Moreover, immune responses that entail the production of B cells and supportive T cells can lead to fever, chills, muscle aches or headaches.</p><p>In addition, both vaccines — BioNTech/Pfizer's BNT162b2 and Moderna's mRNA-1273 — belong to a new family of vaccines that so far has not been approved for medical use. They contain nucleoside-modified messenger RNA which functions as a blueprint for the virus spike protein. Once administered, the vaccine stimulates the human immune system to produce antibodies against this protein and thus the virus.</p>
When Will the Vaccines Be Approved?<p>The approval process differs in the United States and European Union. Intermediate tests are designed to speed up the procedure.</p><p>BioNTech and Pfizer have announced that they will request emergency use authorization (EUA) for their vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks. By this time, a minimum two-month observation period after the second vaccine shot will have passed. This is an FDA requirement. Moderna similarly plans to request a EUA from the FDA in coming weeks.</p><p>It is unclear when BioNTech will request the stricter European Medicines Agency (EMA) to approve its vaccine. In Germany, the Paul Ehrlich Institute tests and approves vaccines for public use.</p><p>It looks likely that a coronavirus vaccine will become available in Europe later this year, or in early 2021, thanks to the EU's fast-tracked approval process.</p>
Challenges Ahead<p>For months, the EU <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-vaccine-eu-seals-deal-with-biontech-pfizer-to-secure-doses/a-55551329" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">has been in talks with BioNTech and Pfizer</a>. Initially, the bloc aimed to secure up to 300 million vaccine doses. A contract drawn up between the parties now places an order for 200 million doses, with the option of a further 100 million.</p><p>The Commission is reportedly also negotiating with Moderna to secure up to 160 million doses of its vaccine. So far, however, no contract has been finalized.</p><p>In addition, the EU has struck a deal to buy 300 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca. It has also reached deals with Sanofi-GSK and Johnson & Johnson.</p><p>In early June, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands joined forces <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/eu-joins-whos-coronavirus-vaccine-alliance-offers-400-million-investment/a-54774743" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">to create the so-called Inclusive Vaccine Alliance</a>, which will aim to boost vaccine production in as many locations across the EU as possible as soon as possible.</p><p>This way, the EU plans not only to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/paris-peace-forum-to-raise-more-than-500-million-for-global-coronavirus-vaccine-access/a-55577629" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">make affordable vaccines available</a> to member states but also to poorer nations, for example in Africa.</p><p>Yet big questions still remain over <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-germany-debates-how-to-distribute-a-vaccine/a-55554314" target="_blank">how the vaccines will be distributed</a> and administered across the globe. Most will presumably need to be permanently stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius, which poses a major logistical challenge.<br></p><p><em>This article was translated from German. It has been updated on November 19, 2020 to include the publication of the study on the Oxford-vaccine.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-can-we-trust-recent-covid-vaccine-successes/a-55623111" target="_blank">Deutsche Well</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2648980453#/" target="_self"></a></p>
By Kenny Stancil
"The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable the world is to a truly global catastrophe. But another, bigger, catastrophe has been building for many decades, and humanity is still lagging far behind in efforts to address it."
Greenpeace Releases Sweeping Policy Plans To Fight Inequality, Racial Injustice, COVID-19 and Climate Crisis
A Greenpeace activist protests in Warsaw, Poland on April 22, 2020. "Going back to normal is not an option," a new report from Greenpeace USA insists. Rafal Wojczal / Greenpeace Polska
By Andrea Germanos
The "just, green, and peaceful future we deserve is possible and together we can build the power to manifest it."
So declares Greenpeace USA's new "Just Recovery Agenda." Released Tuesday and packed with more than 100 sweeping policy recommendations for President-elect Joe Biden and members of the next U.S. Congress to embrace, the visionary document plots out a path for erecting new systems that no longer put corporate greed above the public and planet's well-being.
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By Elizabeth Sawin
The next president will be inaugurated in the midst of a raging pandemic, an economic recession, a crisis of structural racism and an escalating climate emergency. The best chance for making progress on any of these issues is to tackle them all together.
Separated bike lane. Paul Krueger / CC BY 2.0<p>Here are a few cases drawn from a growing <a href="https://www.climateinteractive.org/ci-topics/multisolving/great/great-recovery-policies/#section-1-nat" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">database</a> of examples my colleagues and I are tracking:</p><ul><li>The Nigerian government is focusing on solar electricity as part of its recovery <a href="https://www.energyvoice.com/otherenergy/245447/nigeria-plans-solar-household-boost/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plan</a>, with a goal of installing solar-generation capacity on 5 million homes;</li><li><a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/10/08/spain-pins-covid-recovery-hopes-green-investment-plan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spain</a> has pinned its recovery on an "ecological transformation" including installing 100,000 electric vehicle charging stations, making 500,000 homes more energy efficient and accelerating progress toward its goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2050;</li><li>A joint EU-Africa <a href="https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2020-218-eib-and-afreximbank-direct-eur-300m-of-support-to-african-covid-response" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">project</a> will direct €300 million ($354 million) to projects that help businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially ones owned by women. At least 25% of the funds are for projects involving renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change resilience;</li><li>The United Kingdom has launched a £2 billion ($2.6 billion) <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plan</a> to increase cycling infrastructure as part of its COVID-19 response. In the short term this will help people travel safely through the pandemic. In the long term it will reduce emissions from transportation and capture the health benefits of active travel.</li></ul><p>Sadly, these bright spots are so far the exception, not the rule.</p><p>A <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6514/298.full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last month in <em>Science</em> highlights the potential of this moment. Countries around the world have already committed $12 trillion to economic recovery packages. If only 12% of that amount were to be invested in the next five years in clean energy and energy efficiency the world could place itself on a path to meeting the goals of Paris Climate Agreement, while also driving job opportunities and improving human health. But so far, the world as whole is falling short of even this modest amount of multisolving.</p><p>Some regions are doing well, though. In the European Union, for instance, somewhere between <a href="https://rhg.com/data_story/green-stimulus-and-recovery-tracker/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">19%</a> to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/09/revealed-covid-recovery-plans-threaten-global-climate-hopes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30%</a> of recovery investments are rated as "green." But many other governments are allowing this opportunity to multisolve slip away. Estimates are that only <a href="https://rhg.com/data_story/green-stimulus-and-recovery-tracker/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1%</a> of U.S. recovery funding so far has been green. For China the estimate is 0.3%; for India it's 2.4%.</p>
By Danielle Nierenberg and Sabrina Endicott
On November 17th, Food Tank is co-hosting a panel with the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center on COVID-19's impact on the restaurant and culinary industry and what is being done to help save restaurants. Panelists will include Camilla Marcus, Founder of Independent Restaurant Coalition and Co-founder of the Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants, Naama Tamir, Co-owner of Lighthouse and Lighthouse Outpost, JJ Johnson, Owner of FIELDTRIP, Tom Colicchio, Founder of Crafted Hospitality, Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, and Salil Metah, Chef and Owner of Laut Singapura Restaurant.
By Melissa Hawkins
Like many people in this unusual year, I am adjusting my family's holiday plans so that we can all be safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Before You Gather<p>First, it is important that everyone who will be attending any holiday celebration is on the same page about how to take precautions before getting together. The idea is to lower infection risk in the weeks leading up to the holidays and then test to confirm.</p><p>In general, everyone should plan to be vigilant in their public health practices beforehand, especially since grandparents are at higher risk. In my family, we have <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-covid-19-testing-and-quarantining-to-safely-travel-for-the-holidays-147154" target="_blank">agreed to limit contact with other people</a> as much as possible the week before Thanksgiving. We have also agreed that everyone <a href="https://theconversation.com/quarantine-bubbles-when-done-right-limit-coronavirus-risk-and-help-fight-loneliness-140134" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">needs to be extra cautious around the few close people we see regularly</a>.</p><p>In conjunction with quarantining, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-covid-19-testing-and-quarantining-to-safely-travel-for-the-holidays-147154" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">testing</a> is the second strategy.</p><p>Research has consistently shown that people are most contagious a day or two before they show symptoms, so everyone <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-covid-19-testing-and-quarantining-to-safely-travel-for-the-holidays-147154" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plans to get tested with an RT-PCR test</a> within 72 hours of Thanksgiving, while still being able to get results in hand before we gather.</p><p>If the demand for <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-tests-are-pretty-accurate-but-far-from-perfect-136671" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tests</a> is high and wait times are long, we will get rapid tests. But these are a second choice, as they are <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-covid-19-testing-and-quarantining-to-safely-travel-for-the-holidays-147154" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">less reliable and can be expensive</a>.</p>
Where and How to Eat and Socialize<p>No matter how careful you and your family are, there is some risk that someone will be infected. With that in mind, the goal is to reduce the conditions that lead to <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/09/29/science.abd7672" target="_blank">viral spread</a>. The biggest risks are indoor spaces with <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-ventilation-and-air-filtration-to-prevent-the-spread-of-coronavirus-indoors-143732" target="_blank">poor ventilation</a>, large groups and close contact. So we are planning the opposite: a short outdoor Thanksgiving with a small group and plenty of space between everyone.</p><p>To reduce the risk of infection from flying and to keep the gathering small, the only people coming to Thanksgiving at my family's home in D.C. are my mother, my aunt and my uncle – all of whom live within driving distance. This is in addition to myself, my husband and our kids. When deciding how many people will come to the holidays, keep it small and consider the amount of space you have to maintain social distancing.</p><p>If the weather cooperates, we plan to be outside for trivia games and the turkey meal. Rather than eat around one table, we will have individual tables and place settings spaced far apart and space heaters around. I've got a mini care package planned for each guest so that everyone will have their own blanket, hand sanitizer, utensils and a festive mask. My mother won't be helping out in the kitchen this year and, unfortunately, that goes for cleanup too. We won't take a group picture but I will be sure to capture some of the special moments.</p><p>If the weather doesn't cooperate, Plan B is to be inside in the large family room with as many windows open as possible and with everyone spaced as far apart as possible. Being outside is safer, but if you must be indoors, <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-ventilation-and-air-filtration-to-prevent-the-spread-of-coronavirus-indoors-143732" target="_blank">improve ventilation</a> by opening doors and windows. Consider turning on exhaust fans and <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-use-ventilation-and-air-filtration-to-prevent-the-spread-of-coronavirus-indoors-143732" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">using an air purifier</a>.</p><p>Everyone who lives in the household will be in one section while my mom will have her own individual area, as will my aunt and uncle. Even though we won't hold hands before sharing the meal, we will still recite that we are "thankful for family, friends and food."</p><p>Whether outside or inside, everyone will wear masks when they aren't eating, maintain 6 feet of distance and use the hand sanitizer that I will place throughout the house.</p><p>It is also important to be mindful of alcohol consumption, as a pandemic is not the time for lowered inhibitions and bad judgment.</p>
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According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, between 50 to 70 million Americans have sleep disorders, and 1 in 3 adults do not regularly get the recommended 7 to 8 hours per day of uninterrupted sleep. The pandemic has made this worse, causing disruptions to many sleep routines and exacerbating preexisting challenges to getting a good night's rest, CNN reported.
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By Keith Schneider
In many ways, the story of Texas over the last century is the state's devout allegiance to the principle that mankind has dominion over nature.
Rising Demand Confronts Lower Supplies<p>There are a couple of ways to examine the coming hardship. The first is in numbers. The <a href="https://www.twdb.texas.gov/waterplanning/data/projections/index.asp" target="_blank">Texas Water Development Board found</a> that by 2070 the state's population will grow to 51 million people, 22 million more than today. The state's annual demand for water, the State Water Board projects, will climb to 21.6 million acre-feet (27 trillion liters), up from 18.4 million.</p><p>At the same time, a severe drought will bring increasing constraint. <a href="https://texasstatewaterplan.org/statewide" target="_blank">State authorities project</a> that in a drought comparable to the most severe on record, water supplies will fall over the next 50 years from 15.2 million acre-feet to 13.6 million acre-feet (17 trillion liters). During the driest periods, more people will have considerably less water.</p><p>Here's how that confrontation is playing out in the Hill Country, a region of rapid population growth and uncertain water supply west of Austin, Texas' capital city.</p><p>Two generations ago, about 40,000 people made their homes in Hays County, an epic, rural, rolling masterpiece of space and sky close to Austin and San Antonio. Authorities in Hays counted 14,000 homes that were supplied with water from the Trinity Aquifer, a giant freshwater reserve that lay below. <a href="https://www.circleofblue.org/2020/world/when-it-rains-texas-forgets-drought-and-worsening-water-scarcity/" target="_blank">In both wet years and dry, water was readily available</a>.</p>
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By Jennifer A. Mallow and Steve Davis
In less than a year, telehealth has gone from a niche rarity to a common practice. Its ability to ensure physical distance, preserve personal protective equipment and prevent the spread of infection among health care workers and patients has been invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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