(NEW YORK) -- Messenger RNA vaccines for COVID-19, such as those produced by Moderna and Pfizer, showed no obvious safety concerns for pregnant women, according to a preliminary report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers looked at real-world data from more than 35,000 pregnant women who received an mRNA vaccine between Dec. 14, 2020, and Feb. 28 and found there were no major health-related issues for the mothers or the newborns, according to the study. Pfizer and Moderna are the only two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines currently granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
The study utilized data from several federal health sources, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker, V-Safe pregnancy registry and the federal government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
After receiving the vaccine, pregnant women reported pain at the injection site more frequently, and headaches, chills and fevers less frequently than nonpregnant women, researchers said.
There were 721 women who were in the V-Safe pregnancy registry who had live births during the study period, according to the paper. There were no reported neonatal deaths, researchers said.
While some women experienced miscarriage, premature birth and babies that were small, the frequency of these events was similar to studies before the pandemic, the study said.
The CDC says getting vaccinated is a personal choice for pregnant women and they should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors.
Pfizer is conducting a clinical trial in pregnant women, but the results won't be available until later this year.
Dr. Sara Yumeen, a preliminary-year internal medicine resident at Hartford Healthcare St. Vincent's Medical Center and contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit, contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) -- At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, pictures of smog-free skies circulated social media from Los Angeles to New Delhi. With more people staying at home, it seemed one silver lining was the positive impact it was having on the environment.
But now, a little over a year later, the pandemic persists and a new environmental issue has emerged: the rise of personal protective equipment pollution.
It is estimated that 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves are being used monthly. Unfortunately, while PPE is a necessary tool, its increased use is having detrimental effects on the environment, especially our oceans.
Nearly 1.56 billion face masks entered our oceans in 2020 alone, during the onset of the pandemic, according to a December 2020 report published by Hong Kong-based ocean conservation group, OceansAsia.
Andriana Fragola, a marine biologist and shark safety diver with One Ocean Diving, a Hawaii-based shark diving excursion company, sees firsthand the impact discarded PPE is having on the ocean.
"There's definitely been a rise in overall what we see of masks," Fragola told "GMA." "We're at a tipping point right now. There are estimates that say by 2048 we are going to have more plastic in our oceans than fish. ... With all of the plastic that has been used, especially with the pandemic going on, it is just overwhelmingly approaching, and it is coming fast."
What makes face masks so dangerous and problematic to marine life are the microplastics that are generated from disposable face masks, Britta Baechler, senior manager of ocean plastics at Ocean Conservancy, told "GMA."
"Microplastics are tiny pieces of synthetic material that are either manufactured to be intentionally small or they break down from larger plastic items," she said. "They're such a problem because they're persistent in a whole bunch of different environmental media ... and they just cycle through different environments, and different animals for very long periods of time and never really go away."
Ocean Conservancy is an American nonprofit organization advocating for clean oceans. The group runs an annual International Coastal Cleanup with volunteers from around the world. Recently, the group analyzed the items found from their latest cleanup and reported their volunteers removed 107,219 PPE items from beaches and waterways worldwide in just the second half of 2020. Items their volunteers found and logged included face masks, gloves, face shields and sanitizing wipes.
However, the group said that the report represents a vast undercount and Baechler estimates the global count is likely closer to the "low millions."
"Unfortunately, as evidenced by the data we collected through our international coastal cleanup, these disposable PPE items are making their way into the environment," Baechler said.
Like other forms of plastic, PPE is a threat to marine life. Entanglement in masks, microplastic ingestion and entrapment by the fingers of medical gloves are just a few of the issues PPE pollution can cause for marine life.
But PPE isn't only negatively affecting marine life, explained Christine Dell'Amore, a senior editor at National Geographic. It is impacting wildlife, too.
"Examples include some birds that have gotten the loops of the face mask stuck on their bodies. Birds using face masks and other equipment to line their nests," she told "GMA."
Dell'Amore also noted that single-use plastic has significantly increased during the pandemic, and that's still making its way into our oceans.
"A lot of the focus on reducing single-use plastic that were part of a lot of campaigns like bringing your own cutlery, straw, etc., that has gone out the window during the pandemic. People are obviously trying to stay healthy and not get infected, so a lot of the actions they were taking to be kinder to the environment have taken a backseat," Dell'Amore said.
Amid an ongoing pandemic, the need to continue using PPE and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines is necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
So, what are the steps we can take to continue to stay safe against the coronavirus while also reducing the burden of pandemic-related waste on the environment?
1. Wear a reusable mask
"There's the great option of reusable masks that are able to be washed. You can use that same one over and over again. ... Get a few of them so you can rotate through the week and then you can wash them whenever it's your week to do laundry," said Fragola.
2. Cut the loops of your single-use masks with scissors
"If you're using a disposable face mask, you can simply snip the ear loops off of those masks, just for good measure, to lessen the wildlife entanglement threat," Baechler said.
3. Try a face mask made from more-sustainable materials
"There are also some masks that are single-use that are created from things like hemp or bamboo, so it is compostable, not made out of different types of plastics," Fragola said.
4. Make sure your trash can is properly secured
"Always make sure to dispose of your PPE in a secured, covered bin," said Baechler. "That's to make sure that it's not accidentally going to get leaked into the environment if the bin tips over or wind comes and picks up the PPE in the bin."
5. Reduce your overall single-use plastic consumption
"Try to reduce your single-use plastic footprint and that's to help keep plastics, in general, out of our ocean and simultaneously reduce the burden of pandemic-related waste on our broader waste management systems," Baechler said. "As individuals, we can make smart choices related to PPE and single-use plastics and all of that will be in service of helping to minimize the effects of plastic on our ocean and our environment."
"According to this study, quantity [of sleep] really matters," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN, who was not involved in the study.
The study followed nearly 8,000 people in Britain for more than two decades, beginning when they were 50 years old.
Researchers found that most rates of dementia occurred in people who slept on average about seven hours a night, but that the rates of dementia increased by 30% for those who got six hours of sleep or less per night.
"Measurement of sleep duration at age 50, 60, and 70 years along with change in sleep duration over this period provides consistent results for increased risk of dementia in those with short sleep," researchers wrote. "A further key finding is that the association between short sleep duration and dementia is not attributable to mental health."
"Public health messages to encourage good sleep hygiene may be particularly important for people at a higher risk of dementia," the researchers concluded.
How much sleep people should get is not a "one-size-fits-all" answer, according to Ashton, who noted that Americans in particular have historically not put enough emphasis on sleep.
"We’ve said before that sleep has a [public relations] problem in this country," she said. "We think of it as a luxury but it’s really a medical necessity."
Elementary school children should get between nine and 12 hours of sleep per night, according to the CDC.
Teenagers should get eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, according to the CDC.
Adults ages 18 and over should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, according to the CDC.
"What’s really important is that you can’t make up for [sleep] on the weekend," said Ashton. "So it really has to be every single night."
Getting enough sleep and getting a good night's sleep can be difficult for many people, data shows.
Some steps, known as sleep hygiene, can help, according to Ashton.
She recommends keeping a consistent routine and making sure the area where you sleep is cold, dark and quiet. Anything with a screen -- like cellphones and televisions -- should be left out of the bedroom, according to Ashton.
Things that should also be avoided close to bedtime include caffeine, large meals and alcohol, all known sleep disrupters, according to Ashton.
Ashton also noted that getting regular exercise can also help improve sleep.
(PARIS) -- It might be one of the most peculiar symptoms of mild COVID-19 infection: the loss of taste or smell, or both, that persists long after the virus has passed.
The phenomenon has prompted some former COVID-19 patients to make light of their situation on social media through videos where they munch into everything from raw onions to wasabi Oreos. However, the phenomenon is no joke for those who’ve now been deprived of these senses for up to a year.
“It’s annoying. Life is very boring,” said Laurent Brossard, of Paris, who lost his sense of smell over five months ago when he contracted COVID-19.
“I miss smelling my children, my husband’s cologne. I miss the smell of nature,” said Corinne Prudhomme, a doctor who caught COVID-19 during France’s first wave last year and has been dealing with the loss of smell, also known as anosmia, ever since.
Prudhomme says it’s also been frustrating being unable to determine how she herself smells, and that the anosmia has also affected the way she eats.
“I use a lot more salt, and I eat more than I used to. I can’t taste anything, so I just eat more,” she said.
While the data is limited, a study of about 200 COVID-19 patients last year found that nearly half reported a loss of taste or smell. While most of them regained their senses within four weeks, roughly 10% reported their condition had been unchanged or worse.
Doctors are still learning about COVID-19-related anosmia and possible treatments, and some have begun studying the benefits of steroids and olfactory implants.
For now, however, Dr. Hakim Benkhatar, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the Centre Hospitalier de Versaille, says olfactory training is most likely to treat anosmia related to COVID-19. It involves patients picking out a few scents and setting time aside at least twice a day to practice smelling them in hopes that it will reawaken their senses.
It was at Paris’ Institut Superieur du Parfum where Brossard began his olfactory training. The institution was built on the idea that scent can be learned, and it’s where the country’s future “noses” learn to hone their senses.
The school had previously developed its own kind of olfactory rehabilitation, known as the Olfactory Stimulation Therapy and Memory Reconstruction (OSTMR) method, which is now being used to help COVID-19 long-haulers experiencing anosmia.
The technique, fine-tuned by neuropsychiatrist and biochemist Olga Alexandre, draws on neurology, psychology, emotional intelligence and the personal history of each patient, she says.
“It’s like breaking your arm,” explained perfumer and OSTMR therapist Justine Legay. “You might need to go to physical therapy and work on it, but you’ll eventually be able to move it again. We do the same thing. Training your sense of smell means you can regain it.”
The training is crucial because losing one of the senses can lead to other health issues, Benkhatar says.
“Olfactory loss is something really distressful for patients because it impacts their daily life in many activities, such as cooking, and usually they have a loss of appetite,” Benkhatar said. “And they have more anxiety and depression because of the consequences on their social interactions.
“Finally, and most importantly, they lose their ability to detect hazards,” he added, pointing to potential hazards like gas leaks or smoke, which he says anosmic patients would likely fail to notice.
Brossard has been training with Legay once a week to recover his sense of smell.
“I exercise every day, every morning, every night,” said Brossard. “Five in the morning, five at night.”
“The sense of smell is something we really need,” said Legay. “We’re starting to realize it because of COVID. But up until now, we took it for granted.”
For the training, Legay prepares a personalized scent with special meaning to each patient. During a recent session with Brossard, she prepared the smell of orange juice, which Brossard said he used to enjoy every morning with his family.
Brossard closed his eyes as he leaned toward the swab with the orange scent on it. He inhaled deeply through his nose and subsequently tried to guess which scent Legay had offered him. At first, he suggested it could be something floral. But he quickly caught his error and identified a fruity scent, before narrowing it down to something citrusy.
When Legay asked him if he was able to recognize the orange scent, his face lit up.
For the first time in months, finally, Brossard caught a whiff of orange. Brossard says the training gives him hope that he’ll soon be able to recognize other scents.
He said, “I don’t imagine having anosmia forever.”
(NEW YORK) -- "Nip/Tuck" alum AnnaLynne McCord is speaking out against the stigma surrounding mental health disorders and said on Tuesday she was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder.
According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, dissociative identity disorder -- formerly known as multiple personality disorder -- is characterized by alternating between multiple identities.
McCord spoke about her diagnosis recently for Dr. Daniel Amen's blog, Amen Clinics, and expressed no reservation about opening up about her mental health or sexual trauma.
"The way this is talked about is there's so much shame. I am absolutely uninterested in shame," the 33-year-old actress explained. "There is nothing about my journey that I invite shame into anymore."
"That's how we get to the point where we can articulate the nature of these pervasive traumas and stuff, as horrible as they are," the former "90210" actress added.
McCord said she believes the sexual trauma she suffered as a young child and teen, and resulted in memory loss she was unable to recall until recently, triggered her mental health issues.
That segued into her opening up about what she said was being formally diagnosed by a doctor, telling Dr. Amen, "She said I had (DID) pretty seriously and my splits before my memories came back... I had definitive splits."
McCord explained her personality splits manifested as personas. "You’ll see me just show up with a black wig and a new personality. I was this tough little baddy, and then I’d be the Bohemian flower child," she said.
(NEW YORK) -- After months of waiting, it may finally be your turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone 16 years old and older is entitled to a free vaccine that has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19.
Vaccine day comes with more than the shot itself -- including the potential for a wait in line, possible warm or cold conditions and a lot of emotions.
Half the country has already received at least one dose, so here are some quick pro tips about how to prepare when it's your turn:
What to do -- and what not to do
Dress for success: Put on those comfortable shoes as standing and walking throughout the process may be necessary. Also, be ready to expose your upper arm when it's time for the injection. Most people choose to get injected in the arm they do not write with in case they become temporarily sore.
Start your day off with a good breakfast. Come to the site well-fed, hydrated and bring an extra bottle of water, as sometimes the stress of the experience or all the waiting and up and down can make people lightheaded.
Doctors recommend avoiding over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen or antihistamines before getting the shot.
"Some people are trying to lessen vaccine side effects, but we don't know how much these medications affect vaccine effectiveness. When you have side effects, what you're feeling is your immune system at work trying to build up that immunity," said Dr. John Brownstein, the chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor.
"After the vaccine, people may want to try and prepare to take a lighter day or two of work," added Brownstein.
If you develop side effects after the vaccine, it's OK to take a Tylenol, Advil or some other over-the-counter medication.
What side effects are typical?
"The most common side effects are the ones you can also get from other vaccines: mild fever, headache, fatigue, joint pain, pain or swelling at the site of the vaccine. There is nothing unusual about any of those," said Brownstein. "There may be slight differences between vaccine types, but they are generally pretty consistent."
These mild symptoms may develop over the first couple days and should be temporary.
Some people may also notice an itchy rash on their arm where they were vaccinated, which has been coined "COVID arm." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommend that people who have "COVID arm" get their second vaccine on schedule.
It is important to remember that long-term health problems from the COVID vaccine are extremely unlikely. Most people who have side effects will have them within six weeks of their vaccine, according to the CDC.
When should I be concerned?
"It is those one in a million, incredibly rare, serious side effects that you should speak to a provider about, such as persistent headache, a full-body rash, swelling, abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath," cautioned Brownstein.
These are the symptoms for which you should contact your doctor.
"We watch everyone for 15 minutes after their vaccine, to monitor for anaphylaxis, but this risk is extremely low," Dr. Richard Shellenberger, the associate program director of internal medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor, said.
Anaphylaxis is a type of severe allergic reaction characterized by breathing problems, hives, weakness, paleness, fast heart rate and dizziness. We encourage you to take full advantage of the 15-minute observation period, particularly if you have a history of reactions to vaccines.
"We certainly see side effects, but nothing has been serious. Out of more than 10,000 doses that we have likely given, we have not seen any serious reactions or anaphylaxis," Shellenberger added.
The CDC and Food and Drug Administration encourage you to report side effects in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The information in the VAERS system is user submitted, so the cases need to be investigated before a clear association with vaccination can be established.
If scientists find a connection between a safety issue and a vaccine, the FDA and the vaccine manufacturer will work toward an appropriate solution to address the specific safety concern.
Make sure to bring home your vaccine card and take a photo of it and store it in a safe place. It will help be evidence of vaccination and be a good reminder of which vaccine you received, the dates of your dose and any follow-up appointments required.
It's up to you if you want to share you vaccine selfie with those you care about, but with a little planning for the day you are bound to have a better experience yourself.
(NEW YORK) -- With oceans rising, forests burning and growing pollution, climate change can be a depressing topic.
No wonder so many avoid talking about it with our friends, family and especially our children.
However, talking about the crisis is one of the most important things we can do, according to experts.
ABC News spoke with Harriet Shugarman, executive director of Climate Mama and author of How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, as well as youth climate justice activist Mitzi Joelle Tan. They shared some essential tips for talking to young people about the complex topic:
1. Instill a love for nature in young kids
Very young children can start to form a connection with nature, from going to the local park to gardening at home to learning the names of animals and local species.
"You don't want to tell kids all about carbon dioxide emissions at the age of 5, but just instilling a love for the environment, being connected to nature, I think that is so important at any age," Tan said.
"There are ways to engage our youngest children in nature that instill that sense of wonder and beauty," Shugarman told ABC's Good Morning America.
"Whether you live in the middle of a city, or out in the country, enjoying nature and sharing that people are working to protect it is really important," she added.
2. Tell kids the truth in ways they can understand
"Very young kids can understand pollution," Shugarman said. "We can say that cars and factories pollute, and we're working towards making that clean."
"We may think our young kids are too little to hear some of the impacts of climate change, but children can often see straight through to the truth. Depending on the child's age, telling the truth will simply involve going into different levels of detail," Shugarman added.
Tan shared some of her own experiences learning about climate change at a young age from an Indigenous leader in her community.
"When I was told about Climate Change, [the Indigenous leader] wasn't trying to convince us that we have to fight back or that we had to be activists," Tan said. "The simple fact was what made me realize that he's right, it's simple. It makes sense, this is something that we'll keep experiencing and it will only get worse if we don't do anything, so we have the fact that we have no choice."
3. Remember to focus on the positives, too
"You can't just go, 'Oh, you're doomed.' It always has to be an empowering message that yes, this is horrible, but there is something that you can do," Tan said.
"Know it's OK for kids to feel sad or to feel angry, and that those are normal reactions, but then, coming out the other side, right after we felt sad or grief, that it's an amazing opportunity to say, because we're alive right now, when really important decisions that matter are happening, we can be part of that together," Shugarman suggested.
And children can learn about the power of civic action, too, by taking simple steps to engage with their communities.
"Even as early as in elementary school, kids can learn about our democracy, about fighting for our climate, especially if you share examples of other young people and what they're doing to help the climate," Shugarman added.
4. Show them you care about the planet and are working to make it better
"As parents, as caregivers, we have to show them that we get it, too, and it's important to us," said Shugarman. "Also, making clear how it presents so many opportunities, because we can all be part of the solutions." Taking responsibility for your role in this ongoing challenge can go a long way, too.
"Many youth really get it; that's why we have this big youth climate movement. I think they are feeling a really heavy weight," said Shugarman. "I think that adults have said, 'Well the youth have risen ... so they're gonna fix it,' and that's unfair and wrong, and from my perspective, it must be intergenerational."
(NEW YORK) -- Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Gabrielle Union have put surrogacy in the spotlight in recent years by sharing that they welcomed children via surrogates.
In the United States, the use of surrogacy has been on the rise, with more than 18,000 babies born via gestational carrier cycles between 1999 and 2013, the most recent data available, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Gestational surrogacy occurs when a woman carries a pregnancy that was made with another woman's egg and another man's sperm, so the surrogate has no genetic relation to the baby. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate's eggs are used, so she is the biological mother of the child she carries.
Surrogacy is legal in the U.S. but is not federally regulated, so laws vary from state to state. The cost of surrogacy can go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Angela Hertenstein, 43, a registered nurse in Indianapolis, has been a surrogate for four different families over the past decade. She is currently pregnant with her fifth surrogacy after working with Gift of Life Surrogacy Agency, near Toledo, Ohio, to find a match.
Below, Hertenstein describes what it is like to be a surrogate and what she wants other people to know about the process:
I have been a surrogate for four different families, given birth to three sets of twins, two singletons, and I am currently pregnant with my fifth family.
From previous relationships, I’ve had two children of my own, and my husband has three. We contemplated having children together for about 30 seconds, but decided having a blended family of five, all within six years apart, was enough.
But when the opportunity to have a baby for someone else, who couldn’t have their own, presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Beyond enjoying being pregnant, I really loved the thought of helping another couple. So, being a surrogate was a perfect fit for me.
I was working in a doctor’s office in 2012 when I met the person who would change my life, another nurse who had just been hired.
She was talking to a group of us one day and had mentioned in passing that she had been a surrogate before.
I told her that I had always wanted to be a surrogate and had actually looked into it at one point. She informed me that the fertility doctor she worked with was looking for trustworthy individuals to be surrogates for his clinic. I gave her my information, she gave the clinic my information, and within the next couple of hours they called and set me up with an appointment for the following month for testing.
I told my husband when I got home, and he immediately took off work that day to take me to the appointment, about a 3.5-hour drive from Indianapolis.
We got to the clinic not knowing what to expect. The appointment involved an ultrasound, blood work and forms to fill out. The purpose of the ultrasound was to make sure that everything I possessed for the job was in good shape and I was healthy enough to become pregnant.
It was only a short six months later that I was pregnant with my first family.
After finding out that I was pregnant, I had to travel to the clinic every other week for check-up appointments until I was 12 weeks along. I consider myself a superstitious person, so the first time I drove to the clinic alone, it was cold, and I wore a pair of black yoga pants, knee-high rainbow socks and black boots.
I made it there and back safely and on time, so every time after that, I wore those socks and boots with every visit. Nine years later I still wear these socks to every appointment. Every time I walk into the office for labs, an ultrasound or the anticipated day of transfer, I always hear, "The rainbow sock lady is here!"
My husband and I got to meet the IPs (intended parents) at the signing of the paperwork for my first journey. We went out to eat with them after that and spent the afternoon getting to know each other. They were from overseas, and the most interesting people we have ever met. Not only were they interesting, but they were so passionate about having a family that it melted our hearts.
The first ultrasound revealed that I was having twins, and the parents were just over the moon with happiness and excitement.
Through this journey, I got to know the parents very well. I looked forward to talking with them every day. I loved sharing how the babies were doing, what it felt like to have two little humans wiggling around inside me, and how both babies already seemed to have their own personalities.
The biggest difference in a surrogate pregnancy and my own, is the happiness factor is tripled. For every milestone, ultrasound and defining moment, there is not only my excitement, but the parents’ as well.
The three most common questions I get when asked about being a surrogate are: Did you know the parents before this or are they family? How do you feel about giving up the baby/babies? And of course, how much do you get paid?
To the first question my answer is always: I didn’t know them prior, but I know them now, and I feel like we are family.
To the second question my answer is always: These people have tried so hard for so long to become parents and have been through so much that seeing the look on their faces when they hold their child or children for the first time is priceless.
My answer to the third question circles back to my answer to the second question: The look is priceless.
After giving birth to the first set of twins, I stayed with the family for a week. I pumped breast milk for the babies, helped take care of them while the parents arranged for their birth certificates and passports and helped teach the dad how to properly hold and dress his sons. This is just another example of the unparalleled joy that comes with being a surrogate.
I love sharing my story as a surrogate, because it gives me the opportunity to educate people on what it actually means to be a surrogate and how infertility affects everyone.
There is so much more to having babies for other people than is portrayed in the media. Not only do you forever change the lives of the expecting parents, but you are now eternally apart of something greater than yourself.
(NEW YORK) -- A Nebraska study on asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in schools has found that infection rates may be higher than previously believed.
OPS PROTECTS, an Omaha Public School district program in a partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, found that infection rates in schools involved in the first phase of the pilot program were two-and-a-half times higher for staff and nearly six times higher for students than what was being reported through routine self-initiated tests and reporting.
The program also found nearly 10 times the cases per population than what was observed through testing in the surrounding county. The study didn’t review if the cases originated in the school, just that teachers and students were coming to school with COVID-19 that was not previously identified because of limited testing outside of the school environment.
The results show "as many as nine in 10 student COVID-19 cases and seven in 10 staff cases might be missed by conventional reporting," Dr. Jana Broadhurst, a corresponding author in the study and an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Department of Pathology and Microbiology, said.
The first phase of the program was conducted from November to December at three schools in South Omaha at the middle and high school levels. The specific schools were not identified in the study, but it was mentioned that all teachers and staff, and 12% of students, participated.
The school district has recently been using a hybrid model, with about one-fourth of students attending in-person classes each day.
The program screened students and staff without symptoms weekly using a PCR test of saliva that the University of Nebraska Medical Center adapted from the saliva test developed at Yale University. It also conducted environmental air, surface and wastewater testing in the schools.
The first phase of the program found 46 cases in asymptomatic individuals -- about equally split between students and staff, Broadhurst said. Positive air and surface samples were also found only in choir rooms, and environmental sampling "consistently" found the presence of COVID-19 in the schools' wastewater streams.
The school district has been employing "rigorous" risk mitigation measures, Broadhurst said, including face coverings, physical distancing, hygiene measures and infrastructure improvements.
"We and Omaha Public Schools see testing as one more layer and a very comprehensive strategy to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools," Broadhurst said during a virtual press briefing. "The findings of our study do demonstrate that proactive case findings of asymptomatic cases in schools is important and is an important additional measure on top of conventional case reporting mechanisms through self-identification or other testing means."
The study is thought to be the first of its kind in K-12 schools, researchers said. The results of the program have been shared on medRxiv.org, the preprint server for health sciences, but have not gone through the rigorous scrutiny of peer-review.
A second phase of the pilot program was conducted from January through March and expanded to three schools in North Omaha. Those results will also be shared with the public, Broadhurst said.
Researchers believe this program could be scalable and feasible for other school districts, depending on what resources are available.
"What we have accomplished here is a proof of principle that this can be carried out successfully in an urban school district, among an otherwise underserved population, and we can make an immediate impact on the safety of our schools through rapid case identification," Broadhurst said.
(NEW YORK) -- As jurors deliberate whether to convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, many may be struggling to manage their anxiety and expectations of the outcome.
Psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor appeared Tuesday on Good Morning America to talk about how to navigate these emotions and talk to your kids.
"The anxiety's real and the fact [is] our brain doesn't like uncertainty but we know a verdict is coming and we have an opportunity to respond in a way where we stay kind and we stay involved no matter what the verdict is," Taylor told GMA's Robin Roberts.
For young people, it's likely they've been hearing about the Chauvin trial from loved ones or reading articles online.
Taylor provided tips on how to talk to kids.
Taylor said since kids may be well aware of the situation, talk about the country's past and present history of race and race relations.
Explain police's duty is to serve and protect
Taylor said to do your homework and remember that we don't want our children to be afraid of the police.
"Police are there to help us. Most police are good. Help our kids understand what they can do to stay safe and how we as parents and caregivers protect them," Taylor said.
Discuss ways to make things better
For adults too, this can mean getting involved and advocate for laws you believe in. Focusing on what you can control.
Taylor said that voting can help us cope as well.
"And register to vote because that enables a sense of participation and self-advocacy," Taylor said.
As we handle the verdict and move forward as a country, Taylor suggested remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, whose presence was "Who are we as people and what do we represent? How do we want to be?" she said.
"This is a time when we can certainly work through this disruption and through disruption can come calm, can come hope and can come peace but we need to work through it with a sense that things will be better, knowing that we can be better as humans," Taylor added. "And this is about humanity, and making the changes that we need to."
(NEW YORK) -- All U.S. adults in all 50 states became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Monday, but with the virus still widespread, it is inevitable that some people will test positive for COVID-19 or have a known exposure right before their first vaccine appointment or between their first and second shot.
Experts interviewed by ABC News say if you develop COVID-19, or even if you are exposed, you should probably delay your appointment.
The primary reason is to limit the chance you will spread it to others.
“It’s not safe,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “You shouldn’t [go] because you are contagious, and you may infect the people vaccinating.”
Many vaccination sites are at indoor venues with dozens of people. By going to a place where most people are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, you would potentially expose everyone to illness.
Even if you try your luck and show up, you will likely be turned away and asked to reschedule your appointment as part of the screening process.
“There are health screening and attestation questions built into the scheduling system. If someone answers the questions truthfully, they cannot make an appointment,” a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene said.
Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that people with COVID-19 who have symptoms “should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation."
Is it OK to wait to get vaccinated?
If you are exposed between doses, spacing out your second dose beyond the typical three- to four-week window would be OK, experts said. But each person should talk to a doctor about their individual situation. Currently a second dose of Pfizer is recommended 21 days later, and a second dose of Moderna is recommended at 28 days later.
“If you have a vaccine that requires more than one dose ... it’s not wise to shorten the interval between antigenic stimuli, because then you tend to get less response to it,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “However, if you lengthen it, you are likely to get more of a response. So, it never hurts to wait a little longer.”
If you're infected before your first shot, studies suggest there's a benefit to waiting several weeks after you recover to get vaccinated.
For example, as outlined in the New England Journal of Medicine, a new study suggests that for people who recently recovered from COVID-19, it might be worth waiting three months before getting a vaccine. The study specifically looked at Italian health care workers who got the Pfizer vaccine, finding they were more likely to have a higher antibody response if they waited more than three months after recovery to get their first shot.
Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai also recently found that people who previously had COVID-19 generated a similar or stronger antibody response after just one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, compared to people who never had COVID-19 and received two doses of the vaccine.
Together, these studies suggest there may be a benefit to waiting several weeks or even months to get a vaccine shot after having immunity from a natural infection, because your body will potentially generate an even greater immune response.
The current CDC guidance does allow for vaccination after recovering from COVID-19 and suggests you could wait 90 days. It’s important to talk with a doctor about your current risk level when deciding when to get your vaccine.
When can you make a new vaccine appointment?
If you have COVID-19 with symptoms, you should wait until at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms started. Wait until you haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours and other symptoms have improved. People with severe symptoms may be advised to wait at least 20 days.
If you have COVID-19 without symptoms, you can discontinue isolation 10 days after the first positive PCR test and schedule an appointment for afterward.
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with someone who is infected, you should quarantine for 14 days and monitor symptoms. Some local health departments have given options for shorter quarantine periods if you remain asymptomatic. You can end quarantine after 10 days without testing or end quarantine after seven days if you have a negative COVID-19 test on Day 5 or later.
Experts said the most important thing to keep in mind is that while you are trying to protect yourself through vaccination, make sure you aren’t jeopardizing others' health by showing up at a vaccine site while knowingly infected or at a high likelihood of being infected.
“You want to be quarantined, you don’t want to spread this virus to other persons,” Schaffner said.
“The antibody response you are going to get and the consequent short-term protection” from natural infection buys you time, he said.
And, he emphasizes, “When you recover you should still get vaccinated.”
(NEW YORK) -- Chrissy Teigen marked the start of National Infertility Awareness Week by opening up about her struggle to start a family.
Teigen, who shares 5-year-old Luna and 2-year-old Miles with singer John Legend, spoke with Refinery29 about a host of issues, from her pregnancy loss last year to leaning on IVF to get pregnant.
The 35-year-old television personality attested, "There's no one way to [become a parent] and there's no straight road at all. I've seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with it."
The "Cravings" author revealed she used IVF -- specifically an embryo transfer -- to became pregnant with her eldest daughter.
"When they inserted her little egg, it just shot across like a little shooting star," she recalled. "Seeing it, and then praying that it would stick and stay, and sure enough, she did."
Teigen also touched upon losing her unborn son, Jack, and how her family is healing.
"[John] has a song that, when it comes out, it's just going to be ... I think everyone will know which song I'm talking about when it does come out because it's so beautiful," she hinted.
However, Teigen also confessed that, after the events of her pregnancy with Jack, she was told she shouldn't try to get pregnant again, which is complicating her healing journey.
Chrissy Teigen shares adorable video of John Legend playing the piano with son Miles
"It's still hard for me," said Teigen, saying she goes to therapy twice a week. "I want to try again."
The former model also said that she and Legend want more kids and may consider using a surrogate, adding, "It's not the end of my journey at all."
Overall, Teigen hopes that by sharing her story, she will inspire others to "be open and honest as they’d like to be" and promised that "they’ll get the same from me."
(NEW YORK) -- Maren Morris is proud of her post-baby body, and she hopes other mothers feel the same way.
In reference to a recent Instagram post in which she states that she's eliminated the phrase "trying to get my body back” from her vocabulary after giving birth to her son, Hayes Andrew, in March 2020, Morris says she's relieving herself of the pressure to try to get her pre-baby figure back.
"We're always extremely pressed to erase any evidence on our body that we had a child, that we housed a child for nine, 10 months," the singer told reporters backstage at the ACM Awards on Sunday.
"So I just realized how unhealthy that was for me and my workout journey to be like, 'I need to get back to where I was before,'" she continued. "That's not really the goal. That shouldn't be the goal, to just erase the fact that you had a kid."
The singer proudly stated that it's "rad" that she carried a child for nine months and "loves" her post-baby curves, saying they serve as a reminder that "I did something really amazing and wonderful with my life."
She also encouraged her fellow mothers to accept their bodies.
"It's like, 'I did something that half the population can't do.' So I think that's pretty f------ rad," she said. "That's kind of how I came to that epiphany and was like, 'I'm gonna share this.'"
Morris and husband Ryan Hurd's son turned 1 on March 23.
The couple performed their new duet, "Chasing After You," at Sunday's ACM Awards show, where Morris took home two trophies: female artist of the year and song of the year, for her multi-week No. 1 hit, "The Bones."
(NEW YORK) -- Don Muchow just became the first person to run from Disneyland to Disney World.
The 59-year-old ultramarathoner decided to run from California to Florida to prove his Type 1 diabetes doesn't hold him back.
The "Mouse to Mouse" run was 2,761 miles long and took Muchow 88 days to complete.
Muchow shares more of his history making journey from Disneyland to Disney World below:
Why did you choose Disney?
"Disney's slogan, 'If you can dream it, you can do it,' goes double for everyone like me, with serious lifelong medical conditions.
"Our diagnosis is like a second sport that we have to master just so we can do the fun stuff -- like run, ride or swim. Some dreams are harder to fulfill, but that doesn't mean you should give up on them.
"It's definitely harder to do these things with an autoimmune disease like Type 1 diabetes, but the challenge makes the success even sweeter. Every day is a victory.
"So when the son of a Type 1 friend suggested Disneyland to Disney World, it instantly clicked."
How hard was the journey? What toll did it take on your body?
"Physically, it wasn't as hard as it was psychologically. I've run in Texas and other dry areas, so I expected blisters, fatigue and swollen ankles. After 10 days, we'd take a rest day which helped a lot.
"However, psychologically it was more of a strain because I had to mentally prepare to pause for my father's funeral and then later on again due to the pandemic. It was challenging to stop twice and get my gears up and running again. Patience was the hardest part for me through this whole thing."
How did you monitor your diabetes while on the road?
"I had my Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor and Tandem t:slim insulin pump on at all times. Thankfully, my wife was able to track me on the Dexcom Follow app to see how my blood glucose levels were doing in real-time. She would know even before I did about what kinds of fuel I needed at every stop. When I'd arrive at the van in about 3 to 4 miles, she'd greet me, for example, with hummus or cookies, depending on the reading.
"I'm thankful that my wife would join me on this journey as she drove the vehicle with supplies and water at various checkpoints."
Did you ever think you'd be this active with diabetes?
"I spent my first 30 years after being diagnosed being very inactive. I never considered myself an active person, but in 2004, feeling like the boogeyman of diabetes complications might be creeping up on me, I ran my first 5K. This was a pivotal moment for me by making this lifestyle change to not let my diabetes take over my life. I never thought in my wildest dreams that we'd be getting this much attention or conversations started about diabetes."
What does it mean to be the first person to run from Disneyland to Disney World?
"It's a little surreal. I've been very happy about bringing more attention to the struggle people with Type 1 diabetes face with being active. My objective is to get the word out to start rather than not start at all. I tell people all the time that I was very close to taking the wrong turn in the fork in the road between being active or being a victim to diabetes.
"What's more, my wife and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to connect with people across the United States who shared with us their stories of loved ones with diabetes. Yesterday, we chatted with a woman whose son has diabetes and started talking shop about ways he can be more active. That's what this is all about, raising awareness about diabetes and the positive impact that lifestyle changes and technology can make."
Is this the hardest thing you've ever done?
"It was among the hardest things, but in a very different way. The scope, distance and duration of the effort made it more difficult. It took years to plan and prep. It also tested me and my wife through many unforeseen circumstances. I don't know if we'd do it again, but I'm happy with how it turned out.
"If this run is an example of just one person making a difference to raise awareness, then it served its purpose. I was drawn to a goal and opportunity to change my life and pay it forward. I'm very happy with the results because when people are inspired, then I've paid it forward."
What advice do you have for other people with diabetes?
"I would tell folks to not criticize themselves. Try not to be a victim and most of all, don't give up on yourself. See what others are doing and adapt it for yourself. If you're out there and have diabetes, you're not alone. There are hundreds and thousands of us struggling with the same issues with being physically active. This community is strong, connected and here to figure it out together. Don't go it alone."
(NEW YORK) — Store shelves at pharmacies across the county will soon be filled with affordable, quick, at-home coronavirus test kits.
BinaxNOW, a rapid COVID test made by Abbott Laboratories, was shipped Monday to major pharmaceutical chains, including Walgreens, CVS and Walmart, to be sold over the counter. The tests will be sold in two-count packs for $23.99.
The Food and Drug Administration gave an Emergency Use Authorization for BinaxNOW at the end of March. The test can be used on children as young as 2 when samples are collected by an adult and for all people 15 or older.
Users can take the test even if they don't show symptoms and get results within 15 minutes, according to Abbott.
The company says it will manufacture tens of millions of BinaxNOW Self Tests per month and can further scale capacity based on demand.
Abbott said they will work with retailers to prioritize distribution to areas of the country where the virus is surging as additional supply comes online.
"Over the past year, Abbott has developed high-quality rapid testing and invested in U.S. facilities to scale up manufacturing so we could bring affordable testing to Americans on a mass scale," Robert B. Ford, the president and CEO of Abbott said in a statement.
A spokesperson from Abbott told ABC News the company can produce tens of millions of kits a month. There are other over-the-counter rapid antigen tests available, like one from Ellume, out in the market.
Dr. Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said there will likely be a large demand for over-the-counter tests.
"At the moment, however, at 50 million per month split across over the counter and bulk sales to schools, businesses and other congregate settings, it is unclear what the availability of these tests will be over the coming weeks and months," Mina told ABC News.
He commended Abbott for indicating they will increase their supply based on the market demands.
"It is a major advance over what has been available," Mina said of BinaxNOW.