4 students share their story : NPR

Photo collage by LA Johnson/NPR

Mental health during the pandemic.

Photo collage by LA Johnson/NPR

At this point in the pandemic, American teens have spent a significant chunk of their formative years isolated from friends and in fractured learning environments. More than 2 in 5 teens have reported persistently feeling sad or hopeless, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of high school students. Many who were already struggling with trauma or mental health problems before the pandemic were deeply affected by the prolonged isolation.

But young people have also shown grace and resilience as they dealt with the challenges of COVID-19. NPR spoke to four high school students who marked the pandemic’s two year anniversary with a newfound sense of self, and big dreams for the future.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (en español: 1-888-628-9454; deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Ruby, 17: “I left a toxic friendship, I explored myself more.”

By the time the pandemic closed her school in March 2020, Ruby had already spent weeks trying to ignore her mom’s warnings about COVID-19. Her mom is Chinese, and their relatives back in China had been updating her on the virus’ spread since its early days. Ruby says when her spring break got extended, her mom told her: “Oh yeah, you won’t be going back to school anytime soon.”

At first, remote learning heightened a lot of the anxieties Ruby already felt about her Minnetonka, Minn. high school. She transferred there in the fall of 2019 and was struggling to feel like she fit in because many of her new classmates came from wealthier families. NPR isn’t using Ruby’s last name to protect her privacy.

“It was just something I was worrying about constantly,” she said. “I was afraid to even move in class. I was just, like, sitting there, and I did not move because I was so anxious about what they were thinking about me.”

When school went online, Ruby, then a freshman, was self-conscious about showing her house on camera. She also had a hard time finding a quiet place to concentrate as her two siblings also switched to remote learning – she would often lose focus during Zoom class. During remote school, she says, “I didn’t learn anything.”

Ruby wasn’t the only one. In the first several months of the pandemic, two-thirds of U.S. students in grades nine through 12 told the CDC reported difficulty completing their schoolwork.

"I would say [the pandemic] has definitely made me a stronger person." - Ruby, 17
"I would say [the pandemic] has definitely made me a stronger person." - Ruby, 17

One upside to remote school was that it put some distance between Ruby and a friendship that she describes as toxic.

“She was the only person I really knew, so I kind of felt safe around her,” Ruby explains. “But at the same time, I didn’t really feel so safe because the people who she hung out with were not my people.”

Things changed for the better during Ruby’s sophomore year, when

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Fauci states New York was right to relieve quarantine principles for health and fitness care employees : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

Dr. Anthony Fauci, main healthcare adviser to President Biden, claims easing quarantine procedures for overall health treatment staff will aid hold them in their critical jobs.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, main healthcare adviser to President Biden, says easing quarantine policies for wellbeing treatment employees will enable keep them in their vital employment.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, is praising New York officers for reducing the amount of days wellness treatment staff ought to stay in quarantine soon after acquiring COVID-19.

The point out announced on Christmas Eve that fully vaccinated overall health treatment workers and other essential employees can return to get the job done five days right after a favourable coronavirus test if they satisfy certain basic safety expectations. Previously they had to continue being out for 10 times.

“You will need the wellbeing treatment employees. And when you have them out for the total 10 days, and you do that above a large swath of persons, you can have a scenario in which you really do not have adequate health and fitness care workers,” Fauci informed NPR’s Morning Version on Monday.

“I believe that’s some thing that we’re going to be looking at” beyond New York, Fauci additional.

General public overall health officials have worried that the highly infectious omicron variant, however it may possibly lead to milder sickness, could as soon as once again overwhelm hospitals with the sheer selection of people getting ill.

The Centers for Disease Handle and Avoidance updated its steerage for health care staff with COVID-19 very last week, declaring they could return to function after 7 times if they were being asymptomatic and had a detrimental check.

“As the health care local community prepares for an anticipated surge in people because of to Omicron, CDC is updating our suggestions to reflect what we know about an infection and exposure in the context of vaccination and booster doses,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky explained at the time.

Fauci stated easing quarantine assistance for the basic population would be “under consideration” but added that the administration was currently focusing on getting important employees back again on the occupation.

Fauci also explained during an job interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that it would be “sensible to contemplate” a vaccine prerequisite for domestic flights. He famous that such mandates previously exist for some colleges and workplaces, and that it might support raise the selection of Us citizens who get the shot.

“When you make vaccination a requirement, that is a further incentive to get much more persons vaccinated,” Fauci mentioned. “If you want to do that with domestic flights, I imagine that is something that seriously should really be thought of.”

A variation of this tale initially appeared in the Early morning Edition are living blog site.

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New podcast examines wellness trends and beliefs, like what weight means about health : NPR

NPR’s Sarah McCammon talks with Maintenance Phase hosts Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon on going where most health and fitness podcasts don’t, assessing popular dietary advice and wellness trends.



SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Every year, millions of Americans go on a diet. Americans also spend billions of dollars on weight loss products. So why, despite all of that, are obesity rates in the U.S. are continuing to rise?

AUBREY GORDON: It’s an incredibly complex issue that we don’t actually have answers for, but we continue to sort of use the rising rates of fatness in our culture as a cudgel to get folks to lose weight.

MCCAMMON: That’s writer Aubrey Gordon. She co-hosts the podcast “Maintenance Phase” with journalist Michael Hobbes. And she says when they first started, they wanted to focus on big questions. That other health and fitness podcasts weren’t necessarily asking

GORDON: Felt worth having a conversation about, like, OK, well, what’s actually the science behind this? What are the motives of the people who are presenting all of these fad diets, all of these wellness trends? Like, what’s the story behind it?

MCCAMMON: I spoke with Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes the other day, and we started by talking about the medical consensus that obesity can lead to health problems.

GORDON: Yeah, there’s a very clear correlation between weight and bad health outcomes, but weight is not the only thing that’s correlated with health. We know that poverty has a devastating effect on people’s health. The life expectancy in various counties in America can be up to 20 years of difference. The poorest, most marginalized counties in America, people live to about 65. And, like, I think it’s, like, Boulder, Colo., or something, they live until they’re 85. There’s all these other health disparities that sort of we accept as correlations.

And yet, weirdly, when it comes to obesity, it’s like, oh, no, no, we know that the obesity is causing this, right? Like, people have kind of jumped to this causal explanation. And there is a very strong association, but there’s very strong associations of all kinds of things with health outcomes. So the question is, why are we still putting weight at the center of our understanding about health when there’s actually much more sophisticated ways to help people be healthy and we’re not really doing those?

MCCAMMON: You spend an episode looking at how obesity became defined not just as a risk factor for certain diseases, but eventually as a disease in and of itself. Can you just give us a nutshell version of how this happened?

GORDON: I mean, I think in order to talk about, quote-unquote, “obesity as a disease,” you’ve got to talk about the BMI, which I think we think of now as a hard and fast measure and an objective measure of size and health. The first BMI sort of public policy definition of overweight in the U.S. was that the fattest 15% of us should be considered overweight.

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