What You Need To Know About The Delta Variant

It is common for viruses to change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. These variants can affect the strength, symptoms, or transmission rate of the virus. There have been multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 identified in the United States and globally throughout this pandemic. One variant that you may be hearing more and more about is the Delta variant.

The highly transmissible delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was first identified in India and has now been reported in at least 104 countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus, representing 51.7% of new COVID cases in the United States as of the week of July 3.

The Delta variant is a cause of concern to health authorities because it is thought to be the most transmissible variant yet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is estimated to be approximately 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first identified in Britain last year. Officials believe it is more contagious because of its ability to partially evade the antibodies made by the immune system after a coronavirus infection or vaccination.

Many health experts fear the variant will cause a surge in new cases this fall, hitting the unvaccinated the hardest. Currently, only 48% of adult Americans are fully vaccinated, well below the 70% most believe is needed to achieve herd immunity. In fact, areas in the U.S. with low vaccination rates are already beginning to see delta-driven outbreaks, and the number of COVID-19 cases has begun to climb again nationally.

The good news is that data suggests that several widely used shots, including those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, appear to retain most of their effectiveness against the delta variant.

Jamaica Hospital urges everyone eligible to get vaccinated if they have not already done so.  Vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of all the variants and reduce the odds that new, even more, dangerous variants emerge.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Mental Health

Many people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past year and a half have reported a variety of long-term symptoms.  The conditions that have received the most attention focus on either the physical effects of the virus, such as shortness of breath or fatigue or cognitive deficits, such as confusion or memory loss. For some, however, there are other lingering symptoms that can affect their mental health.

Recent research has concluded that nearly one person in five diagnosed with COVID-19 now also suffers some form of a mental health disorder. This can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Other patients may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Patients experiencing PTSD typically have spent time in a hospital, more specifically in an intensive care unit, or were on a ventilator.

While it is difficult to determine is if these mental health symptoms emerge in patients as a result of neurological reaction to the virus or are due to the stresses of contracting the virus, it is important to raise awareness of the issue and provide resources to get these individuals the necessary help.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Post-COVID Care Center, located in our MediSys Hollis Tudors Center at 2001-16 Hollis Avenue, offers comprehensive range of services for those living with lingering effects of the virus, mental health services delivered by highly qualified psychiatrists. To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You Have Post-COVID Re-Entry Anxiety?

As more individuals across the United States are getting vaccinated, many of the places that were forced to close due to the pandemic are slowly beginning to re-open and other social distancing restrictions are being lifted.

For some, these are signs that the country is returning to a degree of “normalcy” and is reason for excitement. For others however, the lifting of these restraints can evoke feelings of uncertainty, stress, fear, and anxiety.

Those who are experiencing these emotions might be living with a condition referred to as “Re-Entry Anxiety”, which is characterized by the stress encountered while attempting to return to a normal lifestyle. Those who experience reentry anxiety may have feelings of uneasiness about returning to work or school, are uncomfortable at social gatherings regardless of the size, and avoid human contact such as handshakes or hugs.

Re-entry anxiety is not an uncommon condition. According to experts, nearly 50% of Americans admit to feeling anxious about resuming in-person interactions after it is acceptable to do so. The same research also concluded that those who were vaccinated expressed the same level of concerns as those who have not yet been vaccinated. History has also taught us that the number of people presenting with mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia or obsessive compulsive disorder tend to increase following public health crises, such as after the recent SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

There are a few things those dealing with re-entry anxiety can do to ease themselves back into social situations, these include:

  • Giving yourself permission to be anxious – Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you may be having. Understand that your feelings are natural, normal, and shared by many.
  • Starting small –Rather than thrusting yourself into an overwhelming environment, start gradually with brief, one-on-one interactions with a trusted friend. Try going for a short walk or sitting at an outdoor café.

  • Confronting your fears – If you are feeling anxious about something, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible.   The longer you wait, the harder it will be to overcome it.

  • Creating a bucket-list – Think about the things you have missed that bring you the most happiness. Setting a goal to do these things once again can shift your focus from anxiety to optimism and joy. 
      
  • Buddy-up – If you know someone who has similar levels of anxiety, work through your anxieties together. You can support each other and provide the strength to get through the otherwise difficult re-entry process.

  • Focusing on the facts – By relying on trusted sources, such as the CDC and state and local health departments will help you make informed decisions about the best and safest course to reintegrate yourself into normal activities.

While some may find these tips helpful, it is important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to overcome re-entry anxiety. We all had different experiences that affected how we coped during the pandemic; therefore everyone may have different factors that determine their reentry process.

For some, reentry might require professional assistance. The good news is help is available. There are many individual or group therapy options available either in-person or via telemedicine. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s outpatient mental health center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

New Masking Guidelines For Those Fully Vaccinated

Millions of Americans have received their COVID vaccine, and those who are now fully vaccinated can begin to do many things that they could not do because of the pandemic.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued updated guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, which included new rules for mask wearing.

Some of the new guidelines allow those who are fully vaccinated to:

  • Gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues. Wearing a mask at large events, such as parades, live performance or sporting event is still recommended.
  • Attend small indoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. It is still recommended to avoid large indoor gatherings such as the mall or movie theatre.
  • Travel within the United States without needing to get tested or self-quarantine before or after your trip.

In addition, if you are fully vaccinated and have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

These new guidelines only apply to fully vaccinated individuals, which is defined as 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC is instructing unvaccinated people to wear a mask at all gatherings.

Vaccines remain the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you would like to make an appointment, to get vaccinated at Jamaica Hospital, please email us at covid@jhmc.org

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What To Expect After You Receive Your Vaccine

Jamaica Hospital would like to provide our community with the facts about what to expect after getting the vaccine.

The most common side effect associated with the COVID vaccine is pain and swelling in your arm at the location of the injection site.

Other side effects reported by some include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

It is important to note that these side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus. These symptoms typical go away in a few days, but they may affect your ability to participate in your daily activities while you experience them.

If you are experiencing pain, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen. It is not recommended that you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects, because it is not known how these medications may impact how well the vaccine works.

Some tips to alleviate your symptoms include:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the injection site
  • Use or exercise the arm that received the injection
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress lightly

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Should I Let My Child Play Sports During the COVID Pandemic?

As we slowly attempt to return to some degree of normalcy during the COVID pandemic, many activities are beginning to resume, this includes youth sports to be played. Depending on the state or region you live in, your children may now be able to participate in many of the activities that were placed on hold nearly a year ago.

As a parent, it is important to understand the potential risks before deciding to allow your children to play sports.  To help you make an informed decision, Jamaica Hospital is providing the following tips for your consideration:

  • Understand the current COVID-19 positivity rates in your community. Families who live in areas where there is a high or growing number of COVID cases will have an increased risk of contracting the virus. Parents can track positivity rates on their local department of health website.

  • Consider the sport that your child wants to play.  Certain sports, such as wrestling or basketball require players to be in closer proximity to one another. These sports pose an increased risk of exposure as do other sports where there is a high level of physical exertion and those that are played indoors.

  • Assess how much equipment or gear is shared among players.  Even though we know the primary way the virus is spread is from person to person, through droplets in the air, it is still possible to contract COVID by touching a contaminated surface.  For this reason, it is important to limit the use of shared equipment and make sure all gear is sanitized between uses. Never share water bottles.

  • Determine if your child’s team has the ability to socially distance while the players are not actively engaged.  Can the players be placed at the minimum required distance from one another while on the sideline or bench? Are there efforts to have them wear masks when not competing?

Other determining factors that can increase or reduce the risk of spreading the virus include the age of the athlete (older children tend to understand and comply better), the size of the team, the amount of travel required to play the sport and the number of spectators in attendance. By being knowledgeable of the situation you can reduce your child’s exposure and allow them to once again enjoy the sports they love to play.

If your child has any underlying health issues, it is important to speak to your doctor before allowing your child to play.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Is Herd Immunity

The existence of COVID-19 has introduced us to many new terms that we may not completely understand. One of those terms is “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity describes how the spread of a contagious disease can be controlled after a large enough portion of the population, (referred to as “the herd”) becomes immune.

A disease is most contagious when everyone in the community is at risk of contracting it. If a sizable percentage becomes immune however, it makes it harder for the disease to reach those susceptible because the herd blocks its ability to reach them.  As a result, the entire community becomes better protected.

There are two ways to achieve herd immunity: vaccination or infection and recovery.

  • Vaccination – Vaccines create immunity without causing illness or resulting complications. Vaccines have successfully controlled deadly contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, rubella and many others. Herd immunity by vaccination protects people who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or other conditions.
  • Natural infection – Herd immunity can also be reached when a sufficient number of people in the population have recovered from a disease and have developed antibodies against future infection. For example, those who survived the 1918 flu (influenza) pandemic were later immune to infection to the H1N1 flu, a subtype of influenza A.

The percentage of a community that needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies from disease to disease. The more contagious a disease is, there will need to be a greater proportion of the population that is immune to the disease to stop its spread. For example, the measles is a highly contagious illness, therefore it’s estimated that 94% of the population must be immune to interrupt the chain of transmission.

It is important to note that while herd immunity can reduce the risk of getting a disease, it does not prevent it. Until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is developed, it is important to follow all safety guidelines to protect against the transmission of the virus, including:

  • Avoiding large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoiding close contact with others, (within 6 feet).
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wearing a face mask or covering in public spaces.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoiding sharing dishes, glasses, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Cleaning and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily.
  • Staying home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips To Avoid Spreading COVID At Super Bowl Gatherings

Like so many other events over the past 12 months, this year’s Super Bowl celebrations will be different from previous ones. The “Big Game” is typically one of the largest social events of the year, but because of the COVID pandemic, large gatherings are strongly discouraged.

The fact that we are unable to get together the way we normally would doesn’t mean we still can’t have a fun experience.

One way to enjoy the game with extended friends and family is to host a virtual event.  This is considered the safest way to celebrate the Super Bowl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the ways to make a virtual event fun include:

  • Wear clothing or decorate your home with your favorite team’s logo or colors.
  • Make appetizers or snacks with the people you live with to enjoy while watching the game and share the recipes with your friends and family.
  • Start a text group with other fans to chat about the game while watching.

Another option is to use a projector screen to host an outdoor viewing event.  While not as safe as a virtual event, getting together outdoors is considered less risky than an indoor event. 

Normal behavior at Super Bowl gatherings include a lot of shouting, cheering and laughing. When this occurs outdoors, the tiny droplets of saliva that come out of our mouths is better dispersed into the environment and become more diluted, making the risk of infection less likely. 

When hosting an outdoor party, some safety tips include spacing guests six feet apart and encouraging everyone bring their own snacks.

Like holiday gathering, Super Bowl parties can be super-spreader events. Following these suggestions will help control the spread of COVID and save lives.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding COVID Data

The COVID pandemic has put a halt to or severely altered many aspects of our lives.

Many of the decisions made about where we are permitted to go and what we are permitted to do is predicated on the results of COVID data collected in our communities.  Although this information is readily available to us via multiple sources, do we really fully comprehend it?

Some of the information gathered can be difficult to interpret while other statistics, when received out of context, can be misleading.  Below are some insights to help you navigate the constant stream of COVID data.

The first thing to remember is that overall case counts don’t often provide an accurate picture of the situation. While overall information on the total number of positive cases in a given city or state can offer some insight of the level of transmission, it’s only valid if enough people are being tested.  If we are testing more people, we will obviously identify more COVID positive individuals.

Instead, the better statistic to look at is the positivity rate in a given area. This data measures the percentage of total tests conducted that come back positive.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an ideal positivity rate should be less than 5%.

Another thing to point out is to not focus on a single day’s data. This is because some local and state jurisdictions don’t report data on the weekend and submit all weekend data collectively.  This can create unrealistic peaks and valleys in daily reporting. Instead, experts suggest you review what’s referred to as a “Seven Day Rolling Average”. This data takes each day’s number and averages it with the previous six days to provide a more accurate account of the prevalence of the virus.  

Lastly, there is a great deal of information out there. While staying well-informed is very important, it is equally as important to only use reliable sources.

We hope these tips will help you better navigate COVID data and make informed decisions to ensure your safety and that of your loved-ones.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is characterized as a mental fuzziness or lack of clarity.  Some of the characteristics of brain fog can include: 

  • Difficultly grasping thoughts
  • Problems finding the right words to say
  • Problems concentrating or remembering what you are doing
  • Mental exhaustion

The term “brain fog” has been associated with many medical conditions including lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease and menopause. Patients receiving chemotherapy have also reported experiencing brain fog. Most recently, the term has been mentioned as a long-term side effect of COVID-19 patients. Many of these patients, referred to as “long haulers” are currently living with this condition.

Regardless of the cause for your brain fog, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is offering the following tips to help you manage this condition:

  • Get more sleep – Sleep deprivation can make it difficult for you to think clearly during the day. It is recommended that you receive 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Exercise your body– Physical activity doesn’t only offer benefits for your body, it can also help improve memory and reaction time.
  • Exercise your brain – Regularly challenge your brain power by participating in puzzles and other activities. Also seek other enjoyable activities that will keep your brain engaged.
  • Decrease stress – Identify coping skills such as removing stressful elements in your life and saying no to requests that can cause stress. Meditation and journaling are also good techniques to help you manage stress.
  • Monitor your diet – A diet lacking in vitamins (such as B12) and minerals can lead to poor brain function. Some suggested foods to incorporate into your diet include walnuts, fatty fishes, blueberries and turmeric.
  • Check your medications – Certain migraine and anti-seizure prescriptions as well as over-the-counter sleep aid and allergy medications can have potential side-effects linked to brain fog.

If you are currently living with conditions associated with brain fog as a result of COVID-19, Jamaica Hospital has opened a Post-COVID Care Center to help you manage your long-hauler symptoms.  We incorporate a holistic approach to care for our patients, combining the best of conventional medicine and alternative therapies.

To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.