Let Us Out – Please

Who decides what and when for us?

At this point, the phrase “let us out – please” is a mantra for us. We’ve been self-quarantined for quite a while. And we’re yearning to get out of the house. So, what should be okay for us to do? And who should decide what we can do?

What Should Be Okay for Us to Do?

Up to this point, many of us have been limited to these out-of-the-house activities: walking/exercising by ourselves, grocery shopping, and going to the pharmacy. Some may have also used curbside pickups.

But, now what? As the number of states “opening up” hits double digits, which of these DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING? For which will you wait? First, we focus on discretionary activities — those that we voluntarily choose to engage in.

Let Us Out - PleaseAs we noted, the above are voluntary. That is, they are our choice. However, other activities may soon be required of us. Without them being at our discretion. These include:

    • Returning to work or school.
    • Walking on busy streets.
    • Taking mass transit.
    • Using elevators
    • Using public bathrooms.
    • Being less than six feet apart from other employees/students while working or attending class.
    • Being required to wear masks/gloves for lengthy time periods during the day.
    • Staying in dormitory housing.

That leads us to our second question.

Who Should Decide What We Can Do?

Wow. This has turned into a real “hot button” question. And there are lots of possible answers.

Recently, there have been protests around the U.S. about required self-quarantining. Those protesters believe too much has been shut down. And that they should be able to choose their activities. On the other hand, the vast majority of those polled believe that mandatory self-quarantining is necessary to enforce social distancing rules.

Before outlining possible decision makers, we must address the elephant in the room. Can we and our fellow Americans be trusted to adhere to voluntary social distancing rules? Or must these rules be legally mandated to be followed? 

Unfortunately, for a sizable number of people, “voluntary” means that these rules don’t apply to me. Let’s try to be apolitical here. With blue and red state examples. In New York City, some people continued to go to parks, play outdoor basketball, etc. This lasted until rules were more strictly enforced. In Florida, some people do not practice social distancing while going to reopened beaches. That state is leaving it up to residents to self-regulate themselves.

Now, let’s outline just some of those who are making decisions that affect our health and livelihoods:

    • Federal government and agencies
    • State governments and agencies
    • Local governments and agencies
    • Specific authorities (such as mass transit)
    • Public institutions (such as libraries and schools)
    • Private institutions (such as banks) 
    • Employers (both public and private)
    • US [intentionally listed last]

At this juncture, the preceding mix of responsibilities and authority seem rather disjointed. That is why interesting times are ahead.

 

Rewarding Our Brains to Break Bad Habits

Two non-threatening animations from Dr. Jud

On Monday, we presented an infographic to help reduce anxiety. PLEASE take a look.

Now, we offer a brief discussion and two clever videos on changing bad habits by Jud Brewer, M.D., Ph.D.: “Dr. Jud [as he is called] is the Director of Research and Innovation at the Mindfulness Center and associate professor in psychiatry at the School of Medicine at Brown University, as well as a research affiliate at MIT.”

As per Dr. Jud:

“How are habits formed? What is the biggest secret behind our mind’s choices? Why is it so hard to break some of our most unhelpful habits, including worry and panic during this challenging time? How can we upgrade our mind’s habit system?”

Video 1: The Habit Loop — Anxiety

The first animation deals with the three stages of the habit loop: trigger->behavior->reward.

Video 2: Breaking Bad Habits

The second animation notes some recent research that Dr. Jud’s lab has done to help people quit smoking and stop overeating. And it provides simple tips on how you can learn to leverage your own brain for habit change.

 

We REALLY Hope This Device Works

For just $300 in parts, Rice University is devising an automated ApolloBVM device.

As we all know, there is a worldwide shortage of ventilators for those stricken with COVID-19. While there are finally multiple efforts underway to produce more ventilators, the time to and costs of converting factories has caused a real  lag.

In the mean time, many innovative and entrepreneurial efforts are taking place.

According to Rice University:

“The ApolloBVM is a controllable, automated add-on solution to the existing and widely available Bag Valve Mask (BVM). The device compresses the BVM with a mechanical system that is able to provide consistent and accurate ventilation with positive-pressure.”

“This solution exists within the top range of high-acuity limited-operability (HALO) ventilator solutions with an a priori design to produce volume and pressure cycled ventilation that includes positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and enriched oxygen sources.”

“The ApolloBVM is a rapidly scalable solution with a clinician-informed end-to-end design that repurposes the existing BVM global inventory toward widespread and safe access of hospital-grade mechanical ventilation.”

The video below highlights the promising, inexpensive, and simple-to-scale-up inhaler that would help those who are not in critical condition. 

For much more information on this exciting project, click here.