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Health

As Young Adults Get Infected With Coronavirus, Older Adults At Risk Of COVID-19 : Shots


As students return to college campuses, the surrounding communities are seeing an increase in coronavirus infections.

Michael Conroy/AP


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Michael Conroy/AP

As students return to college campuses, the surrounding communities are seeing an increase in coronavirus infections.

Michael Conroy/AP

Young adults are driving coronavirus infections in the U.S. and are likely spreading the virus to older, more vulnerable populations, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults were more likely to get infected, but when researchers analyzed cases from June to August, they found that people in their 20s accounted for the largest share of confirmed cases compared to other age groups. And public health experts say this is a worrying trend.

“This group is going to continue to transmit a lot of virus,” says Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

The CDC report confirmed what many public health experts have long warned: Infections in young adults lead to infections in older people who are much more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19 than people in their 20s and 30s.

In Southern states over the summer, rising infections among young adults preceded increases in COVID-19 — by four to 15 days — among people over the age of 60.

“They are mobile, they have contact with those who are older, and we’re going to see that spillover occur more and more as we get into the fall,” Osterholm says.

The spread among young adults is partly a reflection of how states reopened at the end of the spring, says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We asked older people to stay at home because they were more at risk, and we opened the economies and asked younger people to go out and work,” Bibbins-Domingo says. “We also know it was summertime, people wanted to be out and socializing again,” she adds.

Young people are more likely to hang out in groups, go to bars and restaurants — behavior that keeps this virus circulating.

U.S. cases dropped off significantly at the end of the summer, but many communities with colleges and universities are now seeing a rebound in infections as students return to campus.

North Dakota has the highest rate of new cases per capita in the country, with many cases concentrated around colleges and universities.

And last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency because of “near-exponential growth” of cases, much of it linked to a steep rise in 18- to 24-year-olds getting infected.

“We were heading in a good direction, but that changed in early September,” says Katarina Grande, who oversees the data team at the public health department for the city of Madison, Wis., and Dane County, Wis.

Cases in her county more than tripled during the first half of this month, compared to the end of August. Most of those new infections are tied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Grande says her agency is now tracking an increase in cases in the broader community, which could be an early sign that the campus outbreak is seeding new infections throughout the area.

In California, people under 35 years old made up half of all new cases by late July, says George Lemp, an infectious disease epidemiologist and former director of the University of California’s HIV/AIDS Research Program.

That did decline somewhat over time, but still remains fairly high,” Lemp says.

Lemp, who has tracked this trend for months, says infections were already popping up around universities in the summer because students were in session or living near campus.

The question plaguing campuses and college towns is what to do about it.

“We know it’s not effective to yell at college students and tell them what their behavior should look like, the decisions to gather and have parties,” says Grande. “But that’s the population that we’re seeing transmission occur in.”

As more students returned this month, many colleges and universities adopted new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and test students to head off outbreaks.

Public health experts generally agree that shaming young adults is not the best strategy for getting them to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

In the San Francisco Bay area, one local public health department has tapped a group of young adults who are popular on social media to act as COVID-19 “influencers,” in hopes of reaching a younger, more receptive audience.

“These young people are our football stars, they are makeup artists, they’re on YouTube, they’re fashionistas,” says Ryyn Schumacher, a program manager at Contra Costa Health Services, which recently launched the new COVID-19 Youth Ambassador Program.

Schumacher says the idea to target this demographic came directly from looking at county data that showed 1 out of every 4 people testing positive was between the ages of 14 and 24.

“We don’t spoon-feed the message to our young people,” Schumacher says of the social media initiative. “It’s up to them to craft their messages. We ask how are you protecting your grandma from COVID? And they may want to talk about their grandma and how she makes the best menudo.”

Schumacher says they hope to expand the pilot program and build a relatable outreach campaign that resonates with tens of thousands of young adults.

“It talks about their voice, their story, their brand and the message then becomes a lot more authentic and genuine,” Schumacher says.



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Health

Loneliness Spikes In Older Adults During Pandemic


By Serena McNiff
HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, Sept. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The constraints of the coronavirus pandemic have many more older adults feeling lonely this summer than in years past.

According to a new poll, many older adults are feeling isolated while they protect themselves from the virus.

In June, the National Poll on Healthy Aging surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 50 to 80.

More than half said they sometimes or often felt isolated from others, which is more than double the 27% who reported the same feeling in a 2018 poll.

And the share of older adults who said they infrequently interacted with friends, neighbors or family outside their household also grew from the prior poll.

Nearly half of those polled in June of this year said they only interacted with these groups once a week or less, compared with the 28% who said this in 2018.

And while technology such as video chat and social media can be a great way to connect during the pandemic, those who used these tools were more likely to say they felt isolated.

A majority of the sample reported that they maintained a healthy lifestyle, with eight out of 10 saying that they were getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet. But those experiencing loneliness were less likely to report engaging in healthy behaviors such as getting outside and exercising.

Similarly, those who said they lacked companionship were more likely to report that their mental and physical health was fair or poor.

These results could point to an intersection between loneliness and health, which is an area that “needs much study,” John Piette said in a University of Michigan news release. He’s a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who worked with the poll team.

“Past studies have shown that prolonged isolation has a profound negative effect on health and well-being as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” added Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP, which helped support the poll.

“All of us can take time to reach out to older neighbors, friends and relatives in safe ways as they try to avoid the coronavirus,” Piette added.



WebMD News from HealthDay


Sources

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Sept. 14, 2020




Copyright © 2013-2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.





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Health

75 or Older? Statins Can Benefit Your Heart


By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter


TUESDAY, July 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Older adults with healthy hearts probably would benefit from taking a cholesterol-lowering statin, a new study contends.

People 75 and older who were free of heart disease and prescribed a statin wound up with a 25% lower risk of death from any cause and a 20% lower risk of heart-related death, researchers reported July 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Based on these data, age is not a reason to not prescribe statins,” said lead researcher Dr. Ariela Orkaby, a physician-scientist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and associate epidemiologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Statins are drugs used to prevent buildup of plaques that can narrow or block arteries, leading to heart attack and stroke.

Until recently, guidelines recommended halting statin therapy at age 75, said Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, medical director of the Cardiac Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“In 2018, the guidelines changed to say statins are a reasonable choice for those older than 75 without a life-limiting disease” like cancer or organ failure, she said.

This new study provides evidence that changing the guidelines to allow statin therapy to continue was the right move, said McLaughlin, who wasn’t part of the research.

“This age group is one of the fastest-growing groups,” she said. “The over-75 cohort is living even longer, and the first evidence of atherosclerotic disease or cardiovascular disease can be sudden death. There are many patients who are living very active and full lives into their late 80s and 90s these days.”

For this study, Orkaby’s team analyzed data from more than 300,000 veterans 75 or older who used VA health care services between 2002 and 2012. None had experienced a heart attack, stroke or other heart problem.

Of those vets, more than 57,000 started taking statins during that period. Researchers compared those who used statins against those who did not, and found that their risk of heart-related death was significantly lower.


Continued

The benefits remained for veterans at advanced ages, including those 90 or older, and also were strong among vets with dementia, results showed.

Patients on statins also had a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes, researchers said.

Because the study relied on VA data, the patients involved were overwhelmingly male (97%) and white (91%), McLaughlin noted.

But randomized clinical trials now underway will provide additional evidence about statin use in a broader mix of older people, Orkaby and McLaughlin said.

There’s been an age bias in statin clinical trials, because older folks tend to have more medical problems and including them can confuse the results, Orkaby said.

“Older adults usually have more than one thing going on,” she said. “It’s much easier to study people in their 50s who may just have high blood pressure or just have diabetes. When you’re running a big trial, you may not want to include people who are going to get hospitalized for some other issue — for example, because they fell.”

As a result, “almost all the data that exists right now for statins is in younger people, even though it’s really older adults who have the highest risk of having a heart attack or a stroke,” Orkaby said.

These new results indicate it’s time to stop discriminating based on age alone and saying there is no data to support statin use in older folks, she said.

“We have some reasonably good data to suggest that statins could save lives,” Orkaby said. “If you got to 75 and you weren’t yet put on a statin, you may actually be a healthier older adult who’s likely to live another 10 or 15 years. Those people may be the ones who would benefit the most from that, long-term.”



WebMD News from HealthDay


Sources

SOURCES: Ariela Orkaby, M.D., M.P.H., physician scientist, VA Boston Healthcare System and associate epidemiologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Mary Ann McLaughlin, M.D., medical director, Cardiac Health Program, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City;Journal of the American Medical Association, July 7, 2020




Copyright © 2013-2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.





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Breaking New

4 ‘older’ guests have died on a cruise ship where 2 people tested positive for coronavirus


The statement did not provide a cause of death or say when exactly the guests died.

As of Friday, 138 people — 53 guests and 85 crew members — had reported flu-like symptoms, Holland America said in its statement. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew members on board the ship, which is now off the coast of Panama.

On Thursday, a “number of patients with respiratory symptoms” tested for coronavirus, Holland America said, and two people were positive.

The ship is currently about eight miles off the west coast of Panama, according to the Panamanian government. Holland America said it plans to transfer healthy passengers from Zaandam to the Rotterdam ship, a sister ship, following CDC protocols. The ships exchanged medical supplies Thursday evening.

“Only those who have not been ill will be moved, and health screenings will be conducted before transferring,” the company said. Once onboard the Rotterdam, guests will remain inside their rooms until disembarking.

The Panama Canal announced Friday on Twitter the Zaandam will not be able to use the canal to get to Florida.

“If a vessel has individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 on board, it cannot make any port operations or transit the canal,” said the statement.

The transit of any ship requires canal personnel to board the vessel to ensure a safe passage throughout the waterway, the statement says. All vessels have to comply with health regulations and the “prevention of contagious diseases,” according to Panama’s Canal and health authorities.

The cruise line’s news release said that when the ship first saw guests report flu-like symptoms on March 22, the crew took protective measures and asked all guests to self-isolate in their rooms. All guests and crew members received face masks Thursday.

Clifford Kolber, a passenger on the ship, told CNN Friday he and his wife have been in isolation on the Zaandam since Sunday. He and his wife have pre-existing conditions.

“We just want the ports in the country to help us because don’t want more people to die,” Kolber said.

Ship left Buenos Aires on March 7

The cruise line said the Zaandam departed Buenos Aires on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end its cruise at San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. The cruise line decided to end its current cruises in progress.

No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile, the cruise line said.

The Zaandam is not the only cruise ship in limbo because of the coronavirus. Cruise Lines International Association said at least 14 ocean-going ships worldwide are completing journeys or awaiting disembarkation.



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Celebrity Entertaiment

Is the New Star an Older Woman?


Bachelorette fans are buzzing that the star of season 16 of the ABC dating series is an older woman.

The speculation comes ahead of the announcement scheduled for Monday, March 2, on Good Morning America, with a source telling Us Weekly exclusively that “the Bachelorette casting team turned away numerous guys in their early 20s for the upcoming season solely because of their ages.”

An insider previously told Us that this season’s pick “will be a huge surprise to fans” and is “a complete dark horse.”

‘Bachelorette’ Season 16: Is the New Star an Older Woman?
Tayshia Adams, Clare Crawley and Tia Booth ABC (3)

“We really do have this massive debate where people from this season, people from prior seasons, people you don’t even know are in the mix,” Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison told Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday, February 25.

Current Bachelor star Peter Weber told E! News that Kelsey Weier, 28, who was most recently eliminated from his season, would make a good choice for the coveted role.

Tia Booth, 28, who appeared on Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s season of The Bachelor in 2018, is also a contender, as is Tayshia Adams, 29, who vied for Colton Underwood’s heart last year.

Fan favorite Clare Crawley, who joined the ranks of Bachelor Nation in 2014 on Juan Pablo Galavis’ season and appeared on Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Winter Games, is also in the running to be the next Bachelorette, and if chosen, would be the oldest star, at 38.

Up till now, the oldest star of The Bachelorette was Rachel Lindsay, who was 32 during her season in 2017. At 24, last year’s Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, was the youngest.

On the men’s side, the franchise has seen several older leads, including Luyendyk, who was 36 when season 22 aired in 2018. Brad Womack was 38 when he returned for a second time as the Bachelor for season 15 in 2011, while the most senior Bachelor was Byron Velvick, who was 40 when he starred on season 6 in 2004.

If producers decide to go with a younger woman for this season, leading contenders include some other women from Weber’s season, including Victoria Fuller, who is 22, Hannah Ann Sluss, 23, and Madison Prewett, 23.

There were also whispers that Brown could return for another chance at love after her 2019 season ended with a broken engagement to Jed Wyatt. An insider confirmed to Us that the Alabama native had discussions about the role, but she was never officially offered the spot and the producers decided to go in a different direction.

“There’s always an opportunity for a curveball,” Harrison told Us exclusively last month. “Even when there’s somebody who’s really, really obvious from the prior season. There’s always an opportunity for something crazy from left field.”

With reporting by Nicholas Hautman

Listen on Spotify to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories!



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Breaking New

Should older investors still invest like they’re Millennials?


Many financial advisers tell investors to move more of their money into conservative, safe haven investments like bonds and money market accounts as they get older.

Yet it might be a mistake for investors in their 40s, 50s and early 60s to start dumping stocks now.

To be sure, bonds tend to be less risky. But the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times last year and is not signaling that it plans to raise them anytime soon, especially since there is no sign of runaway inflation on the horizon.

As a result, the yield on the benchmark 10-Year Treasury is currently below 1.6%. The rates that banks pay for savings accounts are similarly puny.

“You can’t discuss lower rates without lower inflation, and that’s the ultimate liability for retirees because it’s dragged down yields overall,” said Mike Dowdall, a portfolio manager for BMO Global Asset Management’s target risk funds. “If you’re parking cash in government bonds, you will suffer from erosion in your purchasing power.”

That’s why some market experts argue that graybeards should invest like they were still Millennials or even members of Generation Z.

After all, people are living longer these days — average US life expectancy in 2019 was 79 years old, up from 74 in 1980. That 401(k) or IRA money may have to last for two or three decades of retirement.

“There is an overselling of asset allocation ‘wisdom’ that recommends fixed income for retirement,” said George Calhoun, professor of quantitative finance for the Stevens Institute of Technology. “It’s misguided to own traditional government bonds in most situations.”

Dividend paying stocks are a good bet

Calhoun pointed out that Verizon (VZ), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and CNN owner AT&T (T) are all examples of companies that pay giant dividend yields.

“It’s not fun to ride the market roller coaster when you’re approaching retirement. But you’re not taking that big of a capital risk with blue chip stocks which pay a 3% dividend yield or more. That’s twice the rate of a 10-Year Treasury,” Calhoun said. “If you have any hesitation about market volatility, these companies are not going away.”

He also noted that Warren Buffett has said he wants 90% of the money that his wife will inherit put in an S&P 500 index fund and only 10% in short-term bonds. (Buffett turns 90 in August and his wife, Astrid Menks, is reported to be in her mid-70s.)

How to stay invested if you're a worrier
Dowdall added that investors planning for retirement should probably include a mix of stocks and higher-yielding corporate and emerging market bonds. (The yield for the iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF (EMB) is 4.5% for example.)

But investors shouldn’t just focus on income when putting together a portfolio for retirement, he said. There’s nothing wrong with having some money in growth stocks that can generate strong returns even if they don’t pay dividends.

He joked that people shouldn’t bet the ranch on Tesla (TSLA) for example, but that “yield is not the be-all and end-all” for older investors.

“Companies often have a choice of paying dividends or reinvesting cash back into the business. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to reinvest. And as an investor you want companies that are growing,” Dowdall said.

Don’t go overboard when chasing returns

Still, there’s a reason why bonds are a good, steady source of income for retirees — they don’t tend to fall as sharply as stocks in bear markets.

“If you need all the income you can get, you can’t afford losses. If you want to plan for a longer retirement, you can’t expect the money to magically make all the returns you need,” said Lamar Villere, manager of the Villere Balanced Fund.

Villere’s fund has a current asset allocation of 70% in stocks, 20% in bonds and 10% in cash. But he said that as you get older, you should pull back on stocks and bump up your weighting in bonds and cash.

“The right answer for an older investor is a less fun one to hear. It’s that you need to be working for longer or spending less in retirement,” he said. “The focus needs to be on lowering risk, not maximizing returns. Blindly chasing yield can create problems.”



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