The pandemic is worsening mental health for women, middle-aged adults, a new survey finds

Mental health disorders like depression are rising among certain groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, multiple surveys and studies have indicated that mental health has declined for a number of groups and populations.

  • Mental health challenges have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A new survey from the University of Michigan has quantified some of the effects.
  • Women and US adults ages 50 to 64 have reported worsening mental health during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For months, experts have warned about the prospect of a an entirely different threat unleashed by the coronavirus: a mental health crisis that could sweep the country.

Their concerns are rooted in more than a year of social isolation, the grief and loss, and economic and emotional trauma that the pandemic has inflicted. A new survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan is shedding light on which groups might be most vulnerable to the effects.

Four groups – women, people ages 50 to 64, people with higher levels of education, and individuals in either fair or poor physical health – “are more likely to have experienced worsened mental health during the first nine months of the pandemic,” or to have felt heightened anxiety or sleep problems, researchers found.

As many as one-fifth of all older adults said they felt their mental health had worsened throughout the health crisis, the findings concluded.

Women were found to be likelier than men to have broached the topic with a health provider or considered medication as a treatment option. The research was conducted by surveying more than 2,000 adults across the US in late January in the National Poll on Health Aging.

Based on the poll’s findings, which were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the University of Michigan researchers now suggest that health providers look more closely at older adults to spot signs of worsening mental health, they said this week in a blog post on the university’s website.

Stepping up treatment offerings

“We need to continue to look for and address the mental health effects of the pandemic and connect people to treatment resources,” Lauren Gerlach, a doctor and assistant professor at the university’s medical school who was the primary author of the newly-published paper, said in a statement.

“Poor mental health can decrease functioning, independence, and quality of life for older adults but treatment can significantly help,” she added.

There were some bright spots for certain groups who participated in the poll. People ages 65 to 80 were less likely to report declining mental health, the university said, and, overall, two-thirds of respondents viewed their mental health as being “excellent or very good.”

Nearly a third added that they’d taken steps to “improve their mental health” since the pandemic began, like increasing exercise, diet, and meditation.

Other warning signs are emerging

Meanwhile, other research has alluded to the dangers of a looming mental health crisis brought on by COVID-19.

Roughly 40% of US adults have professed to feeling the symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder – about four times higher than those who felt similarly in 2019, prior to the pandemic, the Kaiser Family Foundation said in February.

As early as May 2020, the World Health Organization sounded the alarm over the potential for “a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months.”

In that warning, which called for increased investments in mental health services, the WHO reported that women were especially at risk of declining mental health, while balancing demands like childcare and home-schooling.

And Insider reported in June that mental health and substance use experts are concerned that this tumultuous year might also have intensified the consumption of alcohol among underage youth.

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Florida nightlife is going wild and college students refuse to stop the party even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus rips through the state

A crowd of people parties in a nightclub
In Florida, some students are vowing that, even as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges, the party just won’t stop.

  • The state of Florida is saturated with the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
  • Meanwhile, colleges across the state are preparing to open their doors for the fall semester.
  • Undergrads at schools statewide told Insider that their plans to keep partying aren’t slowing down.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On a recent Saturday night in July, the vibrations of EDM music pulsating from bars and nightclubs along Atlantic Avenue drifted into the palm fronds and sliced through the humid Florida air.

In the heart of Palm Beach County, a throng of 20-somethings snaked down the block outside The Office, a local nightlife venue in Delray Beach, poised to elbow their way toward the crowded bar and order rounds of shots.

Across the road at Taverna Opa, another late-night party scene, a DJ spun some tracks to a crowd of dozens as belly dancers stood on top of wooden tables and swerved through the air.

During the worst surges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida hotspots like these have counted on the loyalty of one oftentimes carefree constituency: local college students who, come Saturday night, are ready to get lit.

“I don’t think I can really name a whole lot of people that don’t go out,” Nicole Prescott, 23, a drama student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, told Insider. She’s noticed that masks have been a rarity throughout the spring and summer on the few occasions she’s gone out with friends since receiving her Pfizer shots.

“Being so lax about protocols and just letting people go through life however they want with COVID is really dangerous,” she added.

Across Florida, the highly-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus is surging. As of July 30, more than 38,000 new COVID cases were reported in the state, versus 2,319 one month before, according to a database maintained by the New York Times.

On a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map which designates counties as red zones if they’ve experienced high levels of community spread, all of Florida is illustrated in crimson. Less than half of the adult population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Nevertheless, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed an executive order in May which ended all mask mandates local governments in the state had imposed on their residents. In September, he rolled back restrictions on restaurants’ operating capacity, months before vaccines were available.

On Friday, DeSantis issued another executive order, this one prohibiting schools from requiring mask-wearing in the classroom, even after the CDC recommended this week that K-12 students and staff do exactly the opposite.

‘They’re just going out and not caring at all’

Insider interviewed seven undergrads from five universities throughout the state: the University of Miami, the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida State University in Tallahassee, Palm Beach State College, and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

In spite of the virus’ growing threat, the consensus from these students was that the party is far from over.

For Brianna Pope, 20, a Palm Beach State College nursing major, the nightclubs in Fort Lauderdale’s cosmopolitan Las Olas district are the most tempting draw.

Weekend nights out typically begin around 10 P.M., she told Insider. On the dance floors of popular hotspots, masks aren’t part of the dress code.

“They’re just going out and not caring at all,” Pope said. “When you go down there, there’s really no one wearing masks or anyone taking precautions.”

Schools vary on requirements for masking or social distancing as the semester begins

The University of Florida, a state school in Gainesville, is known as much for its athletic culture as for its undergrads’ hard-charging party scene.

In an emailed statement on Saturday, a spokesperson for the university told Insider that classes will resume in-person this semester without physical distancing. Wearing masks will be optional, though vaccines are highly encouraged for students, faculty, and staff.

At Palm Beach State College, which operates multiple sites throughout the county, the school strongly recommends face coverings on campus, inside classrooms and offices, and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible, according to an internal email sent in late July by administrators which reviewed by Insider.

Spokespersons for Palm Beach State College did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Saturday.

Fears are mounting over what the fall semester could bring

The very real prospect of coronavirus outbreaks in student residences has some housing administrators putting preemptive restrictions into place.

Insider reviewed an email sent by Shawn Woodin, president and CEO of the Southern Scholarship Foundation, which provides off-campus housing for 470 students in cities including Tallahassee and Gainesville.

The email, sent on July 29, informed students that face coverings would be required within any of its 26 housing sites where fewer than 80% of residents are fully vaccinated. Having guests will be forbidden in any of those houses.

When reached by phone on Saturday, Woodin told Insider that fewer than 50% of residents ages 18-23 reported that they had been fully inoculated against the virus, based on data he’d reviewed.

“Based on the spring semester, I know that, as college students, some of our residents were going to parties, gatherings, that should have not have happened,” Woodin said. “Will those behaviors continue? I hope not, but it’s likely some of our residents will.”

Nevertheless, some students are wary of what the autumn semester may have in store as school gets underway.

“Some students might ignore the CDC guidelines and prioritize having fun,” said Daniel Gallup, 20, a student at the University of Florida who received the Pfizer vaccine in March.

“But I’m going to follow the recommendations,” he added, “because going out isn’t worth getting sick and spreading it to anyone else, especially people I care about.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ted Cruz says a vaccine mandate is ‘authoritarianism,’ but he supports them in Texas

Ted Cruz
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz gestures as he speaks to members of the media during the fifth day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, February 13, 2021.

  • President Biden has said federal workers will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, argues that is a display of “authoritarianism.”
  • But the US Senator admits that he does not believe other vaccines are a matter of individual choice.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When he was running for president in 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz pledged to fire around 150,000 federal workers, outright eliminating the Department of Education and IRS. But now he is advocating for unelected bureaucrats in Washington, at least when it comes to their right to resist a life-saving vaccine in a pandemic.

“President Biden’s new vaccine mandate for federal employees is a brazen example of how the Left is politicizing science in the service of their authoritarian instincts,” Cruz said in a press release on Thursday.

The Texas Republican is himself vaccinated and has recommended others follow suit. Still, he said, “The American people must maintain their individual liberties and the right to make their own medical decisions.”

Biden’s directive provides a loophole; if a federal worker refuses to get vaccinated, they can get tested weekly, keep wearing masks, and socially distance.

Read more: Anti-vaxxers are engineering a wave of legal battles to fight mandatory workplace Covid jabs

If COVID-19 were not an infectious disease – more contagious than Ebola, far more deadly than the flu, and with potentially long-term health effects – the senator might have a point. Freedom, for better or worse, entails the liberty to make a bad decision.

But we are dealing with a virus, not a personal vice. The available vaccines are incredibly effective, making one 25 times less likely to end up in the hospital or die, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they are not perfect – and the likelihood of a “breakthrough” case is substantially higher when one is regularly exposed to an unvaccinated population that is a breeding ground for new variants.

You may drink yourself to death in a free society, at least in the privacy of your own home, but you are not permitted to cruise down the interstate. Federal and state laws are in place that prohibit drinking and driving.

Requiring the vaccine of the country’s 2.1 million federal workers appears to be a last resort, coming amid a surge brought about by lagging vaccination rates and the more contagious Delta variant. Though corporate America may follow the government’s lead, most Americans are simply being encouraged to get a shot, the iron fist of the state holding a $100 voucher for those who choose to get vaccinated.

In almost any other context, the senator from Texas would likely defend the right of an employer to set the terms of employment – indeed, he has argued there’s a right to deny it on the basis of sexual orientation. Every day, people accept restrictions on their liberties, from how they dress to what they say, in exchange for money. This is a system that enjoys overwhelming support from Republicans.

Vaccine mandates are also commonplace in Texas. There, the government mandates that every child who attends a public school receive seven vaccines covering everything from polio to Hepatitis to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. Parents can obtain exemptions, under certain circumstances, but “in times of emergency or epidemic” Texas relies on blunt force. If you want your child to attend school, they must be vaccinated or they will be barred from entering the building – a recognition that, when it comes to a contagious disease, an individual choice can impinge on the liberty of others.

“Of course not,” a Cruz spokesperson, Dave Vasquez, said when asked if the senator objects to requirements for other vaccines. “Sen. Cruz has been clear that he opposes COVID vaccine mandates.”

And that is the crux: amid a pandemic, Cruz and others have decided now is the time to make public health another battle in the culture war, and to inveigh against liberal “authoritarianism” with respect to one particular life-saving inoculation. That looks more like politics than principle.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Las Vegas casino worker and father of 5 dies from COVID-19, texts fiancée: ‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’

Michael Freedy passed from complications of COVID-19 this Thursday.
Michael Freedy passed from complications of COVID-19 this Thursday.

  • Michael Freedy, a Las Vegas casino worker and father of 5, died from COVID-19 on Thursday.
  • From the hospital, he texted his fiancée: “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”
  • Three in ten unvaccinated adults say they want to “wait and see” the vaccine’s long-term effects.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Freedy, known as “Big Mike” by coworkers and friends, died of complications from COVID-19 this Thursday, according to his family. Before passing, the father of 5 texted his fiancée Jessica DuPreez: “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

“We wanted to wait just one year from the release to see what effects people had, but there was never any intention to not get it,” DuPreez told Las Vegas’ Fox affiliate.

DuPreez is not alone. About 40% of people over the age of 18 in the US have not been vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number one reason adults cite for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine is wanting to “wait and see” if the vaccine has any long-term side effects before receiving the shot, according to KFF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor.

“I am not aware of any vaccine where the first set of negative effects show up past eight weeks after immunization,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on the school’s website. “The biology of how vaccines work suggests that it would not make sense for a new side effect to show up five years later.”

Doctors are flagging the very real dangers of vaccine hesitancy, with one Arkansas doctor delivering an emotional plea that described the “regret and remorse” on the faces of patients dying with COVID-19, Insider’s Mia Jankowicz reported.

“I have had to call multiple fathers and mothers of preschoolers – in their 20s and 30s – and tell them that their spouse may very well not survive this hospitalization,” he said.

Freedy began feeling unwell following a trip to the beach; they thought he had come down with sun poisoning. After testing positive for COVID-19, he was admitted to the ICU with double pneumonia and placed on a ventilator.

“His numbers crashed and they were not able to bring them back up,” DuPreez wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. “The love of my life, my rock, my everything. The father to my babies is no longer with us. I don’t know what to do.”

Freedy worked at The M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, MGM Resorts, one of the largest players in the casino industry, urged employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible, Eater Las Vegas reported.

“In addition to the heart-wrenching thought of more illness and death, I fear that progressively more restrictive measures … could be around the corner if we continue on this path,” President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle wrote in a letter to employees on Wednesday. “This would be a significant blow to our community, industry, and economy.”

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocks Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik for trying to ‘own the socialists’ by praising Medicare and Medicaid

elise stefanik leadership vote
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY.

  • AOC mocked Stefanik for celebrating Medicare and Medicaid, while condemning “Socialist healthcare.”
  • Others also pointed out the contradiction in Stefanik’s praise for the “critical” programs.
  • “Trust me, Medicare for All is the #1 thing you can do to own the socialists,” AOC tweeted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocked Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik for simultaneously celebrating Medicare and Medicaid and condemning “Socialist healthcare schemes” in a tweet on Friday.

Stefanik, who recently replaced Rep. Liz Cheney as the number three House Republican, called on Americans “to reflect on the critical role these programs have played to protect the healthcare of millions of families” on the 56th anniversary of the two healthcare programs. But, she added, “to safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes.”

Critics quickly pointed out the irony in celebrating the government programs, while arguing that expanding them would lead to “socialism.” Ocasio-Cortez poked fun at Stefanik’s remarks by urging the Republican to support Medicare-for-all to “own the socialists.”

“Totally agree,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, sharing Stefanik’s message. “In fact, to further protect Medicare from socialism, let’s strengthen it to include dental, vision, hearing, & mental healthcare and then allow all Americans to enjoy its benefits. Trust me, Medicare for All is the #1 thing you can do to own the socialists.”

Other critics pointed out the contradiction in calling Medicare and Medicaid “critical” in protecting healthcare, but simultaneously denouncing any efforts to ensure more Americans benefit from the programs.

Major government social safety net programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, were denounced by many conservatives as “socialism” when Congress signed them into law more than a half-century ago. In the 1960s, Ronald Reagan claimed that Medicare would lead to socialism.

But in the decades since, these government programs have come to be embraced by the vast majority of Americans, including many conservatives. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly promised to protect all three programs during his 2016 presidential campaign. But once in office, he proposed massive cuts to the programs, none of which were passed by Congress.

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Royal Caribbean says 6 guests – 4 of whom were vaccinated – tested positive onboard a Bahamas cruise

Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas ship
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas ship.

  • Six guests tested positive onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise in the Bahamas, despite the cruise line’s safety precautions.
  • Four of those who tested positive were vaccinated, and two were unvaccinated children.
  • The cruise line requires all crew members and guests over 16 to be fully vaccinated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Six guests tested positive for the coronavirus onboard the Adventure of the Seas, a cruise ship sailing from Nassau in the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean confirmed to Insider on Friday.

Of the four vaccinated adults and two unvaccinated children who tested positive for COVID-19, only one is experiencing mild symptoms, while the rest are asymptomatic, the company said.

According to Royal Caribbean, the infected guests were quarantined and the people they were in close contact with tested negative. They got off the ship in Freeport, Bahamas, and took private transportation home. Morgan Hines, a USA Today reporter sailing on the ship, originally broke the news on Twitter.

All crew members and passengers over the age of 16 have to be fully vaccinated and test negative before being allowed onboard the ship, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said. Royal Caribbean also requires unvaccinated guests to purchase travel insurance, making cruising more expensive for the unvaccinated.

On Royal Caribbean ships, passengers who don’t present a vaccination card showing that they’re fully vaccinated have to wear masks and pay out-of-pocket for extra COVID-19 tests. Vaccinated passengers are allowed to take off their masks in certain parts of the ship that are designated as “vaccinated-only venues.”

On June 26, a Royal Caribbean ship sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Mexico and the Bahamas was the first cruise to sail from the US since the start of the pandemic. Changes to the cruising experience included extra hand-sanitizing stations by elevators and restaurants and intensive care beds and ventilators. The ship sailed at around a third of its capacity, and over 95% of passengers were vaccinated, according to CDC guidelines.

The Adventure of the Seas isn’t the first cruise to see positive COVID-19 tests. On July 12, an American Cruise Line Alaska cruise saw two guests and one crew member test positive.

The Adventure of the Seas is currently off the coast of the Bahamas and was cruising to Nassau, according to CruiseMapper.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Simone Biles deserves all the praise for prioritizing her mental health. And it’s a good reminder that many Americans can’t afford to take time off when they need it.

Simone Biles looks on during the Tokyo Olympics.
Simone Biles at the Tokyo Games.

  • Simone Biles was rightly praised for prioritizing her mental health during the Olympics.
  • But most people can’t afford to take time off work when their mental health is suffering.
  • Calls for self care mean little if we don’t make systemic changes to reduce economic stressors.
  • Nicole Froio is a freelance journalist and researcher. She writes about pop culture, feminism, queerness, violence against women, digital cultures and much more.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This week, four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles withdrew from the 2020 Olympic Games to care for her mental health. After a wobbly vault run where Biles risked serious injury, the athlete admitted that the high stakes of the Olympics felt like too much, and the stress was affecting her performance.

“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and my wellbeing,” Biles said. “We’re not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day, and sometimes you just have to step back.”​

At 24, Biles made the difficult decision to quit and prioritize her own wellbeing over the possibility of winning gold – and the expectations of millions of fans. Her supporters rightfully note the amount of pressure Biles has been under, praising her wisdom to drop out before she hurt herself.

And Biles and her supporters are right: Quitting when your work is harming you takes courage and is an immense burden to parse out. The fact Biles was able to understand her own limitations and communicate her boundaries to the world in such a high-pressure competition is no small feat, and she should be commended for it.

Many people have taken this moment to call on others to also take stock of their mental health and take a rest when they need it. Those of us who have struggled with mental illness for most of our lives are all too familiar with this phenomenon: There’s a cycle of mental health affirmations that circulate on social media everytime a famous person opens up about their mental struggles.

The problem is that these affirmations don’t actually reflect a society where mental self care is truly taken seriously. Particularly after a pandemic where many of us experienced death and trauma, but were barely granted time away from work to process a global disaster, the gap between “it’s okay not to be okay” and actual mental health provisions at work feels enormous.

Everyone should have the right to quit or take paid time off to care for their own wellbeing. But the reality is that many of us can’t afford to take time off or quit, as much as we know our mental health is suffering. It’s a fantasy to keep repeating that mental health is important and we must care for it, without actually looking at the crushing pressures of capitalism and how they manifest in the workplace. The constant grind of working for food and shelter doesn’t allow most workers to take time off for self care and rest.

I can’t afford to pause for my mental wellbeing

By far, one of the hardest parts of being mentally ill is dealing with work stressors and financial responsibilities. I have been semi-public about my struggles with generalized anxiety disorder and depression for almost a decade, and I was recently diagnosed with PTSD. As part of my treatment plan, I’m being encouraged to slow down the pace of my working life, but quitting isn’t simply a matter of choice.

As a freelance journalist, I have to follow the news cycle to make money and be able to pay rent and bills. I wish I could simply drop everything and take extended time off. But I can’t afford to spend a whole month unpaid, nor do I feel like I can risk editors forgetting that I’m available to be commissioned by being on hiatus.

Plus, treating any mental illness is expensive. Though I’d love to only focus on becoming mentally well rather than working, I also need to make enough money to pay for my mental health treatment out of pocket. In addition to paying for food and rent, I also need to pay for my medication, my psychiatrist, and my therapist.

It’s a never ending cycle: I should slow down to take care of myself, but to take care of myself, I need to make money, so I exhaust myself to make money and be able to pay for treatment. The odds are against me, but my situation can illuminate what we should be focusing on when we talk about mental health and wellbeing. There needs to be efforts to care for our mental health that go beyond the rhetorical.

We need systemic changes to truly prioritize mental health

A good place to start would be raising the minimum wage and decreasing job insecurity. A recent study determined that a mere $1 increase in minimum hourly wage can decrease suicide rates. Job insecurity is directly related to higher rates of anxiety and somatic symptoms, so creating jobs where people feel secure is essential to caring for people’s mental health.

Prioritizing mental health has to be a concrete possibility for everyone, even when their wages are high and they have a secure job. This means that employers, institutions, and governments have to prioritize mental health over productivity and profit, rather than sending out memos and social media posts with empty platitudes about taking care of our mental health. Paid time off without consequences and a good healthcare plan are basic mental health provisions any employer should be giving their employees.

Biles is right: Everyone should have the right to quit harmful situations that are detrimental to their mental health. But no matter how many infographics I see on Instagram that tell me my mental health is the most important thing in my life, the rhetorical affirmation that I deserve to be well won’t change my current material inability to slow down and get the treatment I deserve. We need concrete ways to care for ourselves and our minds, and that requires major structural changes in our places of work and in how we make our money.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Israel will roll out a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to older people, citing a drop in protection against severe disease driven by the Delta variant

israel vaccine
A person receives a coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, Israel, on January 6.

  • Israel will begin offering booster shots of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine this weekend.
  • The vaccine’s protection against severe illness waned over time from 97% to 81%, officials said.
  • With the rise of the Delta variant, many countries are considering booster doses.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Israel will start offering booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to its older citizens on Sunday, as health officials described new data showing a decline in the vaccine’s protection against severe disease over time.

A key unknown with the COVID-19 vaccine is how long protection will last. The emergence and spread of the Delta variant has intensified that uncertainty, with the variant showing the ability to partially evade the vaccine’s protection.

In response to the latest data, Israel is offering a third dose of the vaccine to its citizens who are 60 and older and at least five months removed from their second shot. Other countries are also considering if and when to roll out booster shots. Israel had already begun offering booster shots to some people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients.

There has been a trickle of studies in recent weeks suggesting protection from Pfizer’s vaccine starts to wane after several months. Israel’s decision was motivated by signals of decreased efficacy, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Read more: Pfizer doubles down on the case for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

In particular, one Israeli scientist said the country had data showing the vaccine’s protection against severe illness among this 60-plus age group dropped from 97% in April to 81% in July. Those results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal or posted on a preprint server.

Eric Topol, the director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said on Twitter that if these results held up, they would be “the first sign of a significant dropdown of protection against hospitalizations and death for these vaccines.”

“I hope all of the data will be shared ASAP as the implications are big,” he tweeted.

Israel’s findings appear at odds with reports from the UK in June, with one large observational study finding Pfizer’s vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from the Delta variant by 96%. One difference between the two findings is that Israel’s results are specific to an older population.

Pfizer presented more results on Wednesday supporting the company’s stance that boosters would be needed six to 12 months after initial vaccination. Laboratory testing by Pfizer showed neutralizing antibodies, a key part of the immune response, significantly declined eight months after the second dose of its vaccine among all age groups.

The New York drugmaking giant also posted new, detailed results from its clinical trial that enrolled more than 40,000 volunteers. Longer-term follow-up showed the vaccine’s ability to prevent symptomatic COVID-19 cases, regardless of severity, dipped to 84% starting four months after the second dose, compared with 96% efficacy in the first two months.

The vaccine’s overall efficacy against severe disease in that study was 97%, with 30 cases occurring among people who received placebo shots and one case in a person who got the vaccine.

Pfizer’s findings have also yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, and the company said it would submit an application to US regulators in August to begin offering booster shots.

Read the original article on Business Insider

New York real-estate giant The Durst Organization says it will fire non-union workers who fail to get a COVID-19 shot by Labor Day

Douglas Durst, chairman of The Durst Organization, wears a white shirt and black waistcoat in a corporate meeting room.
Douglas Durst is chairman of The Durst Organization

  • The Durst Organization has told about 350 staff they must get vaccinated by September 6.
  • Staff who refuse will be “separated from the company,” Crain’s New York first reported.
  • The real-estate giant will apply the rule to its non-union corporate workers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A New York City real estate developer has told about 350 workers that it will fire them if they don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine by Labor Day, September 6.

The Durst Organization, a $8.1 billion family-owned company, said certain staff will be exempt for “medical or religious” reasons.

It will only apply the vaccine rule to its corporate, non-union workers, and not its roughly 700 union employees, who include building service workers and cleaners, Crain’s New York first reported.

“For our corporate employees, unless they receive a medical or religious accommodation, if they are not vaccinated by Sept. 6th they will be separated from the company,” Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz told Crain’s.

A Durst spokesperson confirmed the policy to Insider.

It is not clear whether Durst’s corporate workers will need just one or both shots of a COVID-19 vaccine under the new rule. The organization did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for clarification.

Barowitz told the New York Post that Durst had informed corporate employees of the new mandate in June, and that it was “driven by the wishes of the employees who want to work in a safer environment.”

Durst’s union workers – who include building service workers, cleaners, and doormen – are protected under a collective bargaining agreement, an unnamed source familiar with the matter told The Post.

Read more: Zamir Kazi bought his first duplex in 2012 and his firm now owns more than 3,300 units. He breaks down the path to building his portfolio – and shares his best advice for breaking into real estate investing today.

Employers have grappled with whether to implement strict vaccine mandates for employees as offices reopen. Companies can legally require their workers to get vaccinated or ban them from the office, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in guidance published in June.

Tech giant Facebook announced Wednesday that it would require all staff working on its US campuses to be fully jabbed. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also said in a Wednesday press release that workers returning to the office must be fully vaccinated.

New York City’s government announced Monday that it would require all city workers to get vaccinated by September 13, or to take weekly tests. The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city has increased over recent weeks, according to local government data.

Cases of the highly contagious Delta variant have surged in recent weeks across the US. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that fully vaccinated people should wear masks in all public indoor settings in certain COVID-19 hot spots, reversing previous guidance it set in May.

Robert Durst, brother of the company’s chairman, Douglas Durst, is accused of murdering his friend, Susan Berman, in 2000, and is standing trial in Los Angeles.

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A ‘sleep coach’ says bad sleep impacts performance more than diet or exercise, and reveals how to combat it

coffee tired caffeine
Bad sleep doesn’t just cause fatigue, irritability, memory problems and poor focus; it works against you in your work as well as in relationships.

  • Entrepreneurs, athletes, and high performers badly need adequate sleep.
  • Good sleep may be more important than diet or exercise, according to sleep coach Floris Wouterson.
  • Here are five tips the coach gave Insider to become a “super-sleeper.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

“He’s a wonderfully creative person, but he shouldn’t be getting very little sleep,” Richard Branson once said, referring to Elon Musk’s late-night tweeting escapades.

Branson isn’t the only one who thinks Musk could benefit from similar advice.

“Entrepreneurs, athletes, and other high performers desperately need good sleep,” Floris Wouterson told Insider, claiming that sleep is even more important than eating or exercising well.

Author of the book “Superslapen,” Wouterson is the first self-proclaimed “sleep performance coach” in Europe.

“Although, that’s not exactly hard, considering I came up with the term myself,” he told Insider. “I’ve been researching everything I could find on optimal sleep for years.”

He then started coaching, with athletes and top managers claiming to benefit greatly from Wouterson’s approach. Wouterson, based in Flanders, Belgium, comes from an entrepreneurial family himself and since 2002, his wife has set up a number of sleeping comfort stores.

Over the past sixteen years, Wouterson spoke to thousands of customers and became increasingly intrigued by sleep, as he too had struggled with poor sleep for a period of time.

According to Wouterson, the consequences of bad sleep are hugely underestimated. “Fatigue, irritability, loss of concentration, forgetfulness… it works against you in your work as well as in your relationships. The risk of injuries or accidents also increases by 40%.”

The long-term effects of bad sleep can also be severe – depression and burn-out can take hold if you don’t relax. Here are the five tips Wouterson gave Insider to become a super-sleeper.

1. Forget the “eight hours of sleep is a must” myth

alarm clock
You have to find your own sleep rhythm, go to sleep at a fixed time, and get up at a fixed time as much as possible.

According to Wouterson, this rigid notion that you must sleep for eight hours can actually cause sleep stress.

“If you think you should sleep eight hours every night, it can work against you,” said the expert. Lying awake and staying in bed because you have to reach eight hours in bed is illogical according to Wouterson.

You have to find your own sleep rhythm, go to sleep at a fixed time, and get up at a fixed time as much as possible. “Don’t stay lying down – it’s a misconception that sleep will come naturally.”

2. Don’t believe stories about super-short sleep

margaret thatcher
Margaret Thatcher is famously said to have slept for only four hours a night.

Stories about CEOs or politicians who only need a few hours of sleep make them sound tough, but according to Wouterson, only a small percentage of people can genuinely cope with little sleep.

It’s possible to train to temporarily sleep less, he said. Wouterson coached Sanne Haarhuis, a pilot in hot-air balloon competitions, to regulate her sleeping pattern and endure heavy, multi-day races with a minimum of sleep. Wouterson also sees top athletes who can quickly refuel with napping.

“You can recharge your batteries with a 12-minute power nap for two hours,” said the sleep expert however, you have to wake up in time before you sink into a very deep sleep.

According to Wouterson, you can achieve this by, for example, holding a bunch of keys in your hand while taking a short nap. “As soon as you sink too deeply, your hand relaxes, the keys fall to the ground and you’re awake again.”

3. Small steps bring about big changes

bed
Letting your mind drift is one thing but, of course, brooding and pondering won’t help if you want to sleep.

Wouterson is convinced there isn’t just one quick fix to sleep better; there are several areas that demand your attention.

“80% of the five main sleeping problems are learned,” he said. You can achieve an enormous amount by taking small steps to alter your diet, exercise, and sleep routine, for example.

But self-examination, looking at your own attitude to sleep, is perhaps most important according to Wouterson.

4. Eat well and take a break from your phone

woman yawing drinking coffee
You can massively change the way you sleep by taking small steps to alter your diet, exercise, and sleep routine, according to the sleep expert.

Eating and resting your head are two things that require extra attention when it comes to ensuring a good night’s sleep.

Wouterson said to choose healthy food and to be careful with carbohydrates, sugar, and alcohol, adding: “A good night’s sleep starts on your plate.”

Letting your mind drift is one thing but, of course, brooding and pondering won’t help if you want to sleep – negative media reports about “the state of affairs in the world” can keep you feeling worrisome, tossing and turning.

Wouterson advises you to focus on your own circle of influence – what are some challenges in your life you can influence yourself? Focus mainly on those things and try not to keep worrying too much about problems you can’t do much about.

A media diet can bring peace – make sure to put your smartphone away in the evening, a few hours before you go to sleep.

5. Employers should see their employees’ sleep as an investment

woman sleeping desk work nap
Offering sleep training or sleeping facilities can actually be a good investment for employers, according to Wouterson.

Keep going, slog away, work through lunch, soldier on, stay an extra hour – it may seem logical to squeeze as much as you can out of your employees but it’s actually counterproductive, according to Wouterson.

Businesses may see a drastic improvement in the performance of their employees when they’ve slept better. The number of mistakes decreases, while better decisions will take the company further.

“As an employer, you don’t exactly want to be in your employees’ bedrooms, but offering sleep training or sleeping facilities can actually be a good investment,” said Wouterson.

According to the sleep performance coach, this is already a common phenomenon in Japan.

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