Lifestyle

One ‘bad egg’: Woman deliberately coughs on $35,000 worth of food at market

March 20, 2020

One woman has proven herself to be “at the very bottom of the U.S. food chain” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her so-called prank at a Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, has cost the grocery store $35,000 in discarded stock, The New York Daily News reports.

On Wednesday, March 25,  the shopper deliberately coughed all over the store’s produce and on parts of the bakery and meat cases—forcing management to throw all of the contaminated merchandise away so that other customers would not be exposed to possibly contaminated food.

“Today was a very challenging day,” Gerrity’s Supermarket co-owner Joe Fasula wrote on Facebook.

According to Fasula, the woman responsible was known by police to be “a chronic problem in the community.” Although they do not believe that she actually was infected with the novel coronavirus, out of an abundance of caution they worked with the local health inspector to get rid of everything she coughed on.

After getting her out of the store and contacting authorities, more than 15 employees worked to clean and disinfect the areas she had  visited.

One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast[ern] PA,” Fasula wrote.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Wash fruit, vegetables with soap: Virologist confirms COVID-19 survives on supermarket produce

March 27, 2020

An apple a day only will keep the doctor away if you wash it with soap and water, much as you would your hands: A virologist has confirmed that “every surface is a hazard” when it comes to COVID-19—and  he cautions supermarket customers to be particularly mindful of the loose fruit and vegetables in the store, according to the Daily Mail UK.

Timothy Newson, an associate professor at the University of Sydney specializes in infection, vaccines, and virology, told the Daily Mail that, while the virus can live on most surfaces, grocery shoppers should be particularly wary of the fruit and vegetable aisle—where customers frequently pick up the produce to see how fresh and ripe it is, and put it down again.

“We have to remember that every surface is potentially contaminated. And like with any surface there is a risk,’ Newsome explained. ‘We don’t see it as high risk because that comes from sustained contact with other people, but nonetheless it’s important to be mindful.’

‘People working in the supermarkets should be picking all of the fruit and veg up and setting it back down with protection,” he said. Luckily he noted that a large proportion of shelf stackers and general workers have been wearing gloves and disinfecting their hands at every turn.

The best course of action is to wash your fruit and vegetables with soap as soon as you bring them home, not simply relying on the high heat of cooking them to “kill” the virus.

“Wash them with warm soapy water, just as you do your hands,” he said.

Research contact: @DailyMailUK

Flush with success: TP contest entrants may have created the world’s most in-demand wedding gowns

March 26, 2020

For the past 16 years, Charm Weddings of Boca Raton, Florida, has challenged professional and amateur designers nationwide to create stunning, wearable wedding dresses and headpieces made only of toilet paper, glue, tape ,and needle and thread.

Little did the owners—sisters Susan Bain and Laura Gawne—realize that this year’s coronavirus pandemic would ratchet up the value of those hip and inspired gowns in a world without Charmin, Cottonelle, Scott, Quilted Northern, or White Cloud.

Indeed, in a press release, the Charm Weddings owners say they now have an inventory from past Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contests of the most valuable wedding apparel in the world!

This would be the time of year when the contest would normally begin. However, the 2020 challenge has been temporarily postponed due to COVID-19 and will be rescheduled at an appropriate time, Bain and Gawne say.

“When the Covid-19 outbreak began, we didn’t realize the potential impact and how the availability of toilet paper would come into play!” comments Gawne.

Fans of the contest as well as all of the potential entrants can find updates on the company’s social media platforms and websites in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, the sisters are holding on to the Top 3 wedding dresses from 2019…they could be more valuable than gold.

Research contact: @CharmWeddings

Brown University researchers find that Adderall and Ritalin don’t improve focus and attention

March 25, 2020

Alert the public! Adderall and Ritalin are frequently prescribed to ADHD patients—and are just as commonly swallowed and snorted as late-night study aids by college students—because they are widely believed to increased concentration and focus.

Except it turns out that these stimulants don’t work that way at all:  Indeed, research conducted at Brown University has determined that Adderall, Ritalin, and other, prescription stimulants interact differently in the brain and the body than previously understood, Fast Company reports.

“We’ve known for a long time that when you give people these types of stimulants, you get enhanced performance,” said coauthor Andrew Westbrook, a post doctoral research at Brown University, in a press release. “But is that due to an increased ability, or is it due to increased motivation? We didn’t know which of these two factors were contributing and to what degree.”

The key phrase is cognitive motivation. The study shows that the medications spike mental awareness of the benefits of completing a difficult task. They do this by increasing the amount of dopamine released into a part of the brain called the striatum. Dopamine moderates motivation, and so the mind downplays the costs and difficulties of a task, while increasing the apparent advantages. The researchers found no increases in ability, Fast Company said.

This is news to the more than 16 million adults who are prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin annually, and the 5 million more who misuse prescriptions, according to a 2018 study from the National Institutes of Health.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Pasta la vista: An Italian grandma hosts virtual pasta-making classes during time of coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Over the past three years, travelers have been making the trek to the small town of Palombara Sabina, about an hour north of Rome, to make pasta with an Italian grandma who goes simply by Nonna Nerina, according to a story picked up from the Matador Network by Business Insider.

It started when her granddaughter, Chiara Nicolanti, set up an Airbnb Experiences page. It quickly grew, drawing international press and groups more than willing to take a train ride to Italy’s countryside. Nicolanti even recruited other grandmas in the village to take part, and the additional tourists inspired the mayor to reopen the town’s castle, which had been closed for years.

“And then unexpected arrived,” Nicolanti told the Matador Network over the phone from Palombara Sabina. “And the unexpected was called coronavirus.”

Nicolanti, who runs the business side of the Nonna experience, had to cancel bookings starting in FebruaryCOVID-19 has hit Italy hard. First, the northern regions of Italy were shut down, followed by an entire countrywide lockdown. The elderly who are most impacted are some the very people who make the Nonna experience the authentic intergenerational connection that it is.

Yet Nicolanti still saw the importance of connecting with people through food. This being 2020, she realized there’s another way and turned to the Internet with a new message: If you cannot come to Italy, then Italy will come to you.

The online experience is called Nonna Live. It runs for around two hours and costs $50. Nicolanti sends a simple list of ingredients and tools to pick up (eggs, flour, something to roll the pasta out with), and then sets a time to meet virtually. The time change has proven to be a bit of a hurdle but not an impossible one with a few adjustments. Nicolanti runs the classes on weekdays while Nonna Nerina, who is 84, joins on the weekends.

“When we opened up class and started having some bookings, the most beautiful thing happened,” Nicolanti says. “In two weeks, we had hundreds of messages from all around the world from people who I met once in my life and they text me to tell me we are praying for you, we love you, we hope to see you.”

Relationships have been at the heart of the pasta making experience from the start. Three years ago, Nicolanti was pregnant and her life was rapidly changing. Spending time with her grandmother forced her to slow down and realize that traditions were disappearing — especially among younger generations. Nicolanti, who is now 30, says the way people her age pile on work means there’s less time for the much-needed family connection that ties generations together.

Nicolanti eventually hopes to bring the other grandmas in, but for now, it’s just the four generations of Nicolanti’s family. It’s enough during a time like this. During a recent 1 a.m. experience, Nerina, Nicolanti’s mother, Nicolanti, and her daughter were teaching pasta making online together. (Nicolanti’s daughter was supposed to be sleeping but decided she wanted to play, so “we finished the last part with her playing on the table,” Nicolanti says.)

“I think that this moment is forcing us to stop, and we can use this time to speak and share memories and share traditions and good bites,” Nicolanti says. “I think it’s very important in this moment when everybody is forced to stay alone to not feel solitude.” 

Research contact: @businessinsider

Digesting the latest facts: Early symptoms of COVID-19 include queasiness, upset stomach

March 23, 2020

The latest information about the novel coronavirus might be particularly hard to swallow. Until now, we’ve been looking for symptoms of fever and cough—but recent word on the disease indicates that it might start with an upset stomach, The New York Daily News reports.

Nearly half of the patients hospitalized in Wuhan and the wider Chinese province of Hubei, where the fast-spreading sickness was initially discovered, suffered from digestive issues, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers analyzed data from 204 people diagnosed with COVID-19 who were admitted to three different hospitals in the region between January 18 and February 28. The average age was 55. According to the report, 48.5% of those patients said their “chief complaint” was digestive problems, including upset stomach, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” wrote investigators with the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19.

Most people diagnosed with the coronavirus have respiratory symptoms, including a cough and difficulty breathing — but 7% of the patients analyzed did not have any such problems at all.

Researchers noted patients with digestive symptoms also typically waited longer to seek treatment than those without them, the Daily News noted.

“We’re so focused on a cough and fever, but it’s possible there are people with digestive symptoms that are not being tested,” said Dr. Brennan Spiegel, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

He told NY1 that, while the study is only preliminary, it highlights a need to re-evaluate testing criteria so medical officials can move faster to diagnose and quarantine patients.

“People with digestive symptoms in Wuhan presented for care later, on average two days later, compared with those who didn’t have digestive symptoms, because they didn’t suspect they had COVID-19.”

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Pandora’s box: How to open and clean delivery packages during the COVID-19 pandemic

March 20, 2020

Just as, in Greek mythology, Pandora’s box represented a source of “great and unexpected troubles,” the packages delivered to us during the COVID-19 pandemic could arrive with an assortment of unexpected and extremely dangerous germs.

What to do? According to a report by The Huffington Post, whether it’s food delivery, groceries, or something ordered from Amazon, the packages that arrive now were put together at some other location—and passed through many hands before appearing at your doorstep.

Luckily, most delivery people just leave packages at the doorstep without actually interacting with customers. And food delivery services are already are doing that—or, at the very least, encouraging customers to request it (often in the “notes” or “special instructions” section of delivery apps).

However, there’s not as much to fear when you order a hot meal: The risk of transmission through food is very low, epidemiologist Stephen Morse told The Atlantic: “Cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking.”

The contact-free delivery is more for the delivery person’s safety than your own: They are particularly at risk, given how many people they interact with in a day.

So, if you’re ordering something for delivery, be sure that the person who drops it off doesn’t have to touch or interact too closely with you: Ask him or her to leave the package at the door and knock to notify you.

If you have a concierge where you live, practice social distancing when you pick up your package for both your sakes; thank them for their work. and make sure they have access to lots of hand sanitizer.

Also, consider opening the package outside. The virus can live on cardboard, but a new study suggests that it disintegrates quickly on cardboard, unlike plastic or steel. Still, to be careful, put the cardboard packaging in an outdoor recycling bin, and then wipe down the contents with disinfectant before taking them inside.

Finally, just keep washing those hands. Wash them before you pick your deliveries up, and afterward. Wash them for 20 seconds, many times a day.

Research contact: @HuffPost

The ‘art’ of survival: Illustrators offer free drawing classes for those stuck at home

March 19, 2020

Home is where the art is. At least that’s what a group of empathetic illustrators is offering to parents and children who are stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report by Fast Company, the artists have stepped up to create virtual resources and free classes for kids, parents, and anyone else who prefers a creative break to staring at their own four walls.

The following is a list of currently available classes compiled by the magazine. Know of others to add to the list? Email: codtips@fastcompany.com.

Carson Ellis
Frequency: Daily
Where to find it: @carsonellis
Illustrator Carson Ellis is leading art classes for adults and kids alike with her Quarantine Art Club. Every day will offer a different drawing prompt to get the creative juices flowing, so after watching a couple of quick step-by-step video clips, you can take your eyes off a screen for a change and put pen to paper. And don’t just make your own; see what your other club members are working on with the hashtag #quarantineartclub.

Wendy MacNaughton
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
Where to find it: @wendymac
Wendy MacNaughton, the well-known San Francisco illustrator, has launched a daily drawing class on Instagram for “kids of all ages, parents of kids, parents of parents, aunties/uncles, friends, and pets.” The first class involved both: students drew each other and a dog. While she initially intended it to be a five-minute class, it ended up going for 20. Interested? If you can’t make the set time for the live drawing session, it will be on her Instagram story for 24 hours. Be sure to use the hashtag #drawtogether.

Jarrett Krosoczka
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
Where to find itKrosoczka’s YouTube channel
Children’s book illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka has launched a daily YouTube series called “Draw everyday with JJK.” If you can’t catch the episode when it goes live, not to worry—all the videos are posted on his YouTube channel. The first episode provides a quick introduction to the series, which will “give you practical tools so you can tell stories using words and pictures on your own.” Or it will just give your kids the opportunity to draw Baby Yoda with the help of a professional. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Jarrett Lerner
Frequency: Daily
Where to find it: Lerner’s website
Comic book illustrator Jarrett Lerner is releasing a series of illustrated activities each day, including blank comic book pages, a “character-maker,” blank clothes your kids can help design, and a “Finish This Comic” activity. The activities will be archived on his site so you can access them whenever your kid needs some brain stimulation and you need what one mom called #creativesilence.

E.B. Goodale
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT
Where to find it: @ebgoodale
Children’s book author and illustrator E.B. Goodale is launching a drawing class for toddlers aptly called “Drawing with toddlers.” Goodale will take requests for what to draw live, “or you can just sit back and watch the chaos.” It’s specifically geared toward toddlers “because that’s what I’ve got on my hands,” she says in the post, “and their attention span is short. It will be a messy experiment!”

Thyra Heder
Frequency: TBD
Where to find it: @thyraheder
Heder is breaking out of the 2D with all sorts of creative projects on her Instagram feed and stories: You can make animal costumes inspired by her book, Fraidyzoo, out of cardboard and Scotch tape, or even simpler animal masks out of cereal boxes with step-by-step instructions. The best part is you don’t need to leave the house—all of her projects use basic supplies and kitchen staples.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Word of mouth: Postpone elective dental procedures, ADA recommends

March 18, 2020

The American Dental Association (ADA) has released a statement recommending that dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures in response to the spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

“The American Dental Association recognizes the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances dentists and all health care professionals face related to growing concern about COVID-19,” according to the March 16 statement from ADA President Chad P. Gehani. “The ADA is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of the public and the dental team. \

In order for dentistry to do its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the ADA recommends dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks. Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.

“As health care professionals, it is up to dentists to make well-informed decisions about their patients and practices.  The ADA is committed to providing the latest information to the profession in a useful and timely manner. The ADA is continually evaluating and will update its recommendation on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available.”

As of March 16, there have been 3,487 cases in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. There have been 167,511 cases globally, according to the World Health Organization.

Research contact: @AmerDentalAssn

Dirty diaper, clean conscience: Get your disposable nappies collected for composting

March 17, 2020

For those parents who value the convenience of disposable diapers—but also care about the environment—now there’s a company that will sell you clean nappies, and collect the dirty ones for recycling and composting.

Instead of throwing thousands of disposable diapers into the landfill every year, where they will take 500 years to biodegrade, parents can just ship their babies’ dirty diapers off in the box-or use a local composter. Then, they can wash their hands of the whole situation, reports the Good News Network.

But first, they’ll need to switch to the biodegradable diapers sold by a company called Dyper—which are ordered online (at $68 per for up to 260 diapers, depending on the size) and shipped free to the buyer.

Founded in 2014 and based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, the privately held company—now operating in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy—offers diapers largely constructed of 100% bamboo.

The company has teamed up with New Jersey-based TeraCycle, founded in 2001, which brags that, to date, it has helped over 202 million people in 21 countries to collect and recycle waste.

According to the Good News Network, the unique recycling program aptly called “ReDyper” starts with a subscription, and includes boxes and bags that meet the United Nations Hazmat shipping specifications, as well as prepaid shipping labels to make the whole process as easy as possible.

After they arrive at TerraCycle’s facilities, they go on to industrial composting facilities that TerraCycle partners with to be turned mostly into compost for things like the landscaping on highway median strips.

“We talked to many moms [who] wish that they had that opportunity to compost, because they’re living in New York City in an apartment on the 24th floor and they have no option to do that,” said Taylor Shearer, content manager at Dyper.

Because 3.5 million tons of diapers are tossed into the trash every year, any diaper recycling program is sorely needed—and welcome as a newborn baby.

Reseaarch contact: @goodnewsnetwork