Column: Boost your immune system until a vaccine arrives

Column: Boost your immune system until a vaccine arrives. Your Turn. Eric Mann and Dr. Floyd Willis. It’s been six months since the United States …

It’s been six months since the United States government issued mandatory quarantine orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. While we are cautiously returning to our “new normal” that includes face masks and social distancing, the risk of infection and combined stress of a global pandemic continues.

Since a vaccine is still in development, First Coast residents must make their health a priority right now in order to protect themselves from the virus. In addition to following the CDC’s recommended safety and hygiene protocols, everyone, regardless of age, background or ability, can take steps right now to boost their immune systems and combat the disease.

It starts with regular physical activity.

The benefits of exercise are well documented, including reducing anxiety and depression, improving energy and cognitive function and increasing overall life longevity. Additionally, physical activity boosts your immune system and can help fight off infection by reducing stress hormones and strengthening your body’s immune system.

Furthermore, according to an article in the journal for Sports Medicine and Health Science, exercise may help us by “counteracting some of the co-morbidities like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and serious heart conditions that make us more susceptible to severe COVID-19 illness.”

Before the pandemic, efforts to maintain society’s good health was already greatly challenged by rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

COVID-19 compounded this challenge, particularly for minority and ethnic groups, such as Blacks and Latinos, who experience a higher rate of these pre-existing conditions and are being disproportionately infected and killed by the coronavirus.

Even with new safety guidelines in place, it is possible for every person to get moving every day. Whether you choose to walk outside, mow the lawn, stream a fitness class in your living room or go back to a gym or studio, it is critical to be active.

For those that are considering a return to the gym in order to maintain health and wellness, make sure you research the facility to asses if the gym is following the CDC’s mandated safety guidelines. Some of these guidelines include spacing the equipment to mandatory distances, regular cleaning schedules and required face masks when social distancing cannot be followed.

We must work together as a community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following the CDC’s safety guidelines, making our personal, physical health a priority, and staying active.

And just as importantly, we must work to ensure equal access to quality health and wellness resources in all neighborhoods, particularly our underserved communities.

For information on starting a safe health and wellness regimen, visit the FCYMCA.org. For information on the Mayo Clinic, visit Mayoclinic.org.

Trudeau says the federal government wants fixes, not control, of long-term care system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has no intention of trying to assert federal jurisdiction over longterm care facilities but still believes there is a …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has no intention of trying to assert federal jurisdiction over long-term care facilities but still believes there is a role for Ottawa to play in fixing the country’s troubled nursing homes.

Trudeau is pushing the provinces to agree to harmonize minimum standards for long-term care so that vulnerable seniors are protected and cared-for well no matter where they live.

“This is a moment for us to step up and reassure Canadians that their loved ones, that they themselves as they advance in age, won’t be left aside, won’t be made vulnerable,” Trudeau said Friday.

Trudeau met with the premiers by phone about the issue Thursday.

The Canada Health Act does not govern long-term-care homes, and their existence and operation are entirely up to each province, a fact Trudeau said he fully recognizes.

“Obviously, I respect provincial jurisdiction in running those institutions,” he said. “But we’ve seen that those institutions haven’t done a good enough job in this pandemic particularly, but in a long-standing challenge.”

He said his proposal for “national norms” wouldn’t mean a top-down approach from Ottawa, dictating what provinces must do on long-term care.

Rather, he said provinces that have done better can share what worked with their counterparts, and all can commit to reaching minimum basic care standards on their own.

“We’ve seen varied outcomes in various provinces around our seniors and I think every Canadian can understand how important it is to make sure that all of our vulnerable senior citizens are properly protected, regardless of which province or territory they happen to live in,” he said.

Provincial governments are wary of federal intrusions, with Quebec Premier Francois Legault warning the prime minister before Thursday’s meeting that he was “playing with fire” and suggesting Ottawa intervening in long-term care would be akin to Quebec trying to make up rules about the Canadian border.

The second wave

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious problems in care homes across the country, with overcrowded conditions, underpaid staff with high turnover, staff levels too low to provide adequate care and very limited infection control.

In the spring, the federal government sent in the military to help replace staff at dozens of homes in Quebec and Ontario that could not cope with the pandemic.

Subsequent reports to the government from the military exposed horrific conditions in some of those homes, including COVID-19 patients not isolated from non-infected residents, cockroach infestations, rotting food and patients left in soiled clothing.

In the first wave of the pandemic, long-term-care residents accounted for about 20 per cent of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 — and 80 per cent of the deaths. Some homes saw more than one-third of their residents die.

In Ontario, nearly 2,000 long-term-care residents have died of COVID-19, and eight long-term care workers.

The infection rate slowed over the summer, but as the second wave began to explode this fall, long-term-care homes are starting to get hit again.

One care home in Ottawa saw 100 residents infected and 15 die of COVID-19 in September. The provinces have asked for a massive increase in federal health transfers, including to help improve long-term care, but with few if any federal strings attached.

Auditors find lack of planning, coordination in traveler quarantine program

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – As the state prepares to launch a traveler testing program Thursday to reboot tourism, a new audit is raising …

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – As the state prepares to launch a traveler testing program Thursday to reboot tourism, a new audit is raising questions about the state’s oversight of its quarantine mandate and how it will be managed once federal funds run out in December.

Where Can Americans Go in the Middle East?

U.S. travelers can enter Jordan, but must comply with a number of restrictions. Before boarding the flight, they must: Have valid health insurance that …

*Editor’s Note: Each week, we’ll be covering regions and updating you on which countries are open to Americans for travel and what you need to know before you go. Check PeterGreenberg.com for all of the latest, weekly updates. This week, we look at the Middle East.


Jordan:

U.S. travelers can enter Jordan, but must comply with a number of restrictions.

Before boarding the flight, they must:

Have valid health insurance that covers COVID-19 treatment for the entire period of their visit.

Complete a passenger health declaration form found at gov.j and present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.

Receive a QR code.

Install the jo application on a mobile device.

Prepare to pay at their own expense for a second COVID-19 PCR test that will be conducted upon arrival.

After arrival:

All travelers who test negative for COVID-19 must still quarantine. The length of quarantine differs based on a traveler’s country of origin and/or a passenger’s location over the preceding 14 days before entry into Jordan. For the United States this period is 14 days.

Non-Jordanian travelers who both test positive on arrival at the airport and have valid health insurance will be sent to a quarantine facility at the Dead Sea or a private hospital. If a traveler’s insurance does not cover the complete costs of hospital care for the duration of the illness, the Jordanian Government will return the individual to his or her origin country.

As of October 6th, the Jordanian Government imposed a weekly nationwide comprehensive curfew on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 12:00 a.m. Fridays until 12:00 a.m. Sundays. In addition to the comprehensive curfew on Fridays and Saturdays, there is a nightly curfew nationwide from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. for commercial establishments. Airport taxis still operate. During curfew, travelers must carry confirmed flight tickets with them.

Lebanon:

Lebanon is open to all travelers with restrictions. Before boarding a flight, a medical form issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health must be completed. In order to enter the country all travelers over the age of 12 must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 96 hours of travel. The traveler must then, upon arrival, opt for either a $50 second COVID-19 PCR test or go into self-quarantine for 10 days.

Kuwait:

U.S. citizens may only enter Kuwait with a valid visa or residency. Valid visas will need to be requested in advance of travel from a Kuwait embassy or consulate as visas are not being issued upon arrival at the airport or electronically.

Travelers over the age of six must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test result that’s administered by a health clinic within 96 hours of the flight to Kuwait. Upon arrival, all passengers must quarantine at home for 14 days.

U.S. citizens travelling from the following countries (listed here), must quarantine in a different country for two weeks before entering Kuwait:

Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China and Hong Kong, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Italy, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nepal, North Macedonia, Panama, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Spain, Syria, and Yemen.

Bahrain:

U.S. citizens do not need to bring a negative COVID-19 PCR test and can receive visas upon arrival into the country. Once in the country, all travelers will need to pay for their own test at a price of 30 Bahraini Dinars ($80). Be prepared to pay double that price as some travelers may be required to take two tests at their own expense. Any positive test results will result in quarantine at a government facility until a clean bill of health is received. Bahrain also requires a second test on any traveller who stays beyond 10 days.

Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia is closed for tourism and U.S. travelers are only allowed to enter with:

  • Current residence permits (iqamas) with a valid entry/exit visa. U.S. citizens with residence permits can obtain an exit visa online if they have an Absher account or with the assistance of their sponsor.

  • Within 72 hours before entry, a negative COVID-19 PCR test is required for travelers over the age of eight. Following arrival, all travelers must fill out a health disclaimer form and submit it to health personnel at the airport and then download and register on Tataman and Tawakkalna applications and assign a home location through the Tataman app. The app lets travelers complete a daily health assessment to help monitor possible COVID-19 symptoms.

  • All Travelers will also be required to quarantine in their homes for two days following their arrival and obtain negative test results.

Oman:

All U.S. citizens with a valid residency are permitted to enter Oman without prior approval. Upon arrival, travelers are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test for 25 OMR ($64). The PCR tests are pre-booked prior to arrival on Tarassud+ mobile application. If a traveler presents a negative test result and is staying in the country for less than seven days, he or she may go on about their stay as usual following the guidelines of the Ministry of Health. Travelers staying more than seven days are required to wear a wristband and follow a 14-day quarantine.

Turkey:

Turkey is open to U.S. citizens for tourism. A negative COVID-19 PCR test is not required for entry into the country. Travelers arriving in Turkey will be required to complete an information form and will be checked for symptoms. If an individual shows symptoms, a COVID-19 PCR test will be conducted. If the test shows positive, that individual will then be subject to quarantine.

United Arab Emirates:

U.S. citizens are permitted, and tourist visas are being issued in all Emirates. All travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 96 hours prior to their departure. Children under the age of 12, and those with severe and moderate disabilities are exempt from the test requirement.

Qatar:

Qatar is not open for tourism but is open to U.S. citizens with restrictions. A negative COVID-19 PCR test is required for entry followed by a mandatory quarantine. The length of that quarantine is determined by whether or not the individual is traveling from a country on the Qatar government’s low risk list. Additional COVID-19 tests must be conducted at the end of the quarantine period. All travelers who test positive for COVID-19 at any point may be sent to an isolation facility.


Where Can Americans Go in Asia?

Where Can Americans Go in Europe?

Where Can Americans Go in the Caribbean?

No Test Required: 11 Countries Americans Can Easily Travel to Right Now

But the vast majority of those come with potential tripcancellation measures, like 14-day quarantines or negative COVID tests within 48 hours of arrival …

While nowhere near the 180 countries U.S. passport holders could visit before the pandemic, there are currently 11 nations that want Americans to visit.

Technically speaking, there are more than three dozen countries that are open to Americans now, even in a pandemic. But the vast majority of those come with potential trip-cancellation measures, like 14-day quarantines or negative COVID tests within 48 hours of arrival, and, for most people, that’s all but impossible to gamble an international trip on. That said, there are several countries that are welcoming Americans now with few, if any, restrictions beyond random temperature checks and simple health declarations.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t follow pandemic precautions when visiting the below, especially since the State Department advises against travel during quarantine. But if you’re willing to accept the risk, the easier entry makes the following countries a more viable option for itchy-footed Americans.

We’ve got a rundown of each and why their open borders might be worth crossing right now—everything subject to change, of course.