Worst county for COVID in America is in New Jersey

Barnegat Light, NJ – Karsten Moran/The New York Times

Ocean County, in central New Jersey, is a mixture of beach towns like Barnegat Light and exurban towns like Toms River and Lakewood. Household income in the county exceeds the U.S. average.

Yet Ocean County is among the least vaccinated places in the Northeast. Only 53% of residents have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (or one dose of Johnson & Johnson). Only 26% have received a booster shot.

The large number of unvaccinated residents in Ocean County has led to a horrific amount of COVID illness and death. Nearly 1 out of every 200 residents has died from the virus. That is worse than the toll in Mississippi, the U.S. state with the largest amount of COVID death per capita, and worse than in any country except for Peru.

What explains the vaccine skepticism in Ocean County? Politics, above all. The county is heavily Republican. Donald Trump won it by almost 30 percentage points in 2020, and many Republicans — including those who are older than 65 and vulnerable to severe COVID illness — are skeptical of the vaccines…

Only after the vaccines became widely available, in early 2021 — and liberals were much more willing to get shots than conservatives — did COVID become a disproportionately Republican illness. By the summer of 2021, the gap was soaring.

The toll has been even worse in counties where Trump won by a landslide than in counties that he won narrowly.

It is a tragedy — and preventable.

NYT asks: How badly is America doing?

When can schools safely reopen? When will the economy really start recovering? And when will you next eat in a restaurant, go to a movie, watch pro sports or hang out at a friend’s house?

All of these are, in fact, versions of the same question: When will the United States finally start to get the coronavirus under control?

And the answer appears to be: not any time soon.

The U.S. looks ever more like an outlier. Over the weekend, President Trump again played down the coronavirus as a serious threat, falsely claiming 99 percent of cases are harmless…

Much of the rest of the world is taking a very different approach. It is slowly moving back toward more normal functioning, without setting off major new outbreaks.

Trump is an idiot who spent most of his life looking for a village of hs peers to take him in. Unfortunately, the GOP did a skillful enough job at manipulating our out-of-date electoral system to give him a whole country to screw up.

Grayheads in prison

❝ Prison populations are shrinking, reflecting a decade-long movement by states to enact policies that reverse corrections growth, contain costs, and keep crime rates low. At the end of 2016, fewer people were held in state and federal prisons than in any year since 2004.

But despite this overall reduction, one group in prisons is surging: older individuals. From 1999 to 2016, the number of people 55 or older in state and federal prisons increased 280 percent. During the same period, the number of younger adults grew merely 3 percent. As a result, older inmates swelled from 3 percent of the total prison population to 11 percent…

❝ Like senior citizens outside prison walls, older individuals in prison are more likely to experience dementia, impaired mobility, and loss of hearing and vision. In prisons, these ailments present special challenges and can necessitate increased staffing levels and enhanced officer training to accommodate those who have difficulty complying with orders from correctional officers. They can also require structural accessibility adaptations, such as special housing and wheelchair ramps.

Additionally, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics found, older inmates are more susceptible to costly chronic medical conditions.

Yup. The cost of warehousing grayheads ain’t as cheap as anyone else the man considers noisy, dangerous.

Same as it ever was

Click to enlarge

This goes along with the “noble savage” school of utopian naturalism. Surviving nature still requires potable water, shelter from the elements – especially in a climate with seasons. Everything you can purchase or rent in civilization you now have to build or provide on your own.

First thing I always remember with images and expressions like this is completing an idyllic couple of weeks hiking through a stunning, isolated region in the highlands of Scotland. I was OK living within the boundaries of carrying everything I needed for protection from the elements + a fair amount of sustenance on my back for that time period.

And a week after I returned to urban America I learned some wandering sheep must have pooped just at the right time upstream in some delightful mountain stream where I filled my water bottle. And I needed another month to recover from a less-than-happy critter named giardia I had consumed – probably in that mountain stream.

I would have been a lot worse off if I wasn’t back in a city with easy access to a physician, etc..

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Food poisoning at food safety conference — Har!

Authorities confirmed that the attendees of the 2014 Food Safety Summit in April were struck by food poisoning. Back in April, NBC reported that authorities had received accounts of more than 100 people who had fallen ill after eating a meal at the conference. At the time, health officials were not sure what caused the outbreak. According to Food Safety News, the illness has been linked to tainted chicken marsala served at lunch.

In total, 216 conference attendees — most of whom are experts in food safety — fell ill after eating the dish which a new report shows was contaminated with C. perfringens…The bacteria causes symptoms like stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever. The outbreak was apparently the first in the summit’s 16-year history.The Food Safety Summit notes in a statement that they are working with the convention center to ensure next year’s event is outbreak (and probably chicken marsala) free.

I’d love to know who was the producer of that delightful chicken.

A follow-up check of the facility didn’t find anything more dangerous than a fridge that dripped a bit of condensate.

Thanks, Mike

Make it to 100 years old and things don’t feel so bad

I’m not certain it’s the yogurt either

Many studies of very old people seem to boil down to this: trying to figure out what they ate, drank and did, so that other people can try to live that long, too. Daniela S. Jopp, an assistant psychology professor at Fordham University, is more interested in how people actually feel once they approach 100.

Younger people can derive lessons from her findings, but beyond that Professor Jopp hopes her research can help the very old lead fulfilling, socially connected lives until the very end…

There is a paradox in the desire to live longer, she said. Many people want to reach an advanced age, but they do not actually want to be that old, she said. Yes, it’s seen as better than the alternative. But over all, “We have a very negative view of very old age,” she said.

Her research gives cause for hope: It shows that once people approach 100, they tend to have a very positive attitude toward life. This is the case even though “they have on average between four and five illnesses, which are pretty disabling and hinder them from doing the things they want to do,” Professor Jopp said. They still have goals, she said, and they are not ready to die just yet. They want to see how the Yankees fare next season or attend the wedding of a grandchild.

This attitude holds true across the socioeconomic spectrum, although having enough money to pay for one’s medications is very important to well-being, she added.

In fact, people 95 and older report higher levels of satisfaction with life than those who are decades younger, Professor Jopp said. She speculates that people in their 60s and 70s have not yet fully adapted to their impairments, whereas the very old have reached a state of acceptance.

Professor Jopp’s observations are based on studies of people in Heidelberg, Germany, and a study she did of 119 very old New Yorkers chosen from voter registries and nursing homes.

She has found that in addition to being optimistic, the very old tend to be extroverted and to exhibit “self-efficacy,” meaning they report feeling in control of their lives. Most of the people in the New York study live within the community, many of them alone, and most greatly value retaining a sense of independence, she said…

Professor Jopp says she hopes her research will help uncover ways to offer better social services for the very old. And she hopes it will open up new avenues for the very old to pass along their insights and knowledge to others. As she puts it: “They have a lot to share — and to contribute to society.”

Yes, there are mornings when I feel like I already am 100. But, that hasn’t anything to do with Phyllis Korkki’s article does it? 🙂

RTFA for some of the interesting anecdotes. I certainly think her conclusions provide some guidance. Above all else I believe in keeping my curiosity about the whole world and science rolling right on through to the end of my life. I’m not likely to change that.

Neither am I to become less of a hermit. I access the world through the Web and any number of sources of communications – as I always have. My presence isn’t needed in a traditional round dance at a facility full of elders. Especially since they aren’t likely to be my peers. I don’t think the good doctor would consider that a contradiction.

I find most folks are a time capsule by the time they reach thirty. They stop learning. And if you stop learning, I don’t think you are well equipped to do a very good job of thinking for yourself either. Perhaps Dr. Jopp’s exceptional centenarians are an exception to that rule as well.

Analysis of multiple studies shows a Mediterranean diet is good for your brain

…The Mediterranean diet has long been associated with improved health and reduced risk of chronic age-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and dementia. Traditionally, it is comprised of high levels of olive oil as the main source of fats, lots of cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables, moderate consumption of fish and dairy products, a little meat, and moderate consumption of alcohol, especially wine, usually during meals.

To more closely examine this long-held association, we undertook and recently published the first systematic review looking at the association between the Mediterranean diet and age-related cognitive decline.

Based on twelve reviewed studies, it seems that a diet more closely resembling the Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. We also found that people adhering more closely to the diet reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 34%-40%.

An impressive benefit, but how does it work? Many studies have reported the potential of certain nutrients to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and many of these nutrients are included in the traditional Mediterranean diet.

For example, clinical trials have shown improved cognitive test scores after subjects took vitamins, trace elements, beta carotene andfolic acid supplements. Other studies have presented favourable findings for the role of unsaturated fats and vitamin B-12 consumption. Typical elements of the Mediterranean diet like fruits and vegetables, wine, virgin olive oil and some herbs are rich in these substances, including vitamin C, E, B, carotenoids and flavonoids…

The progression of Alzheimer’s disease has also been linked to inflammation – the olive oil, nuts and oily fish in the Mediterranean diet are powerful sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (omega-3 fatty acids). These are the “good fats”, all with anti-inflammatory effects. A diet high in saturated fats on the other hand, such as found in butter, animal fats, sweets, and highly processed foods, may be related to impaired cognitive function and dementia by restricting the flow of blood through the arteries, or by the accumulation of β-amyloid proteins in the brain that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the Mediterranean diet is more than eating your five-a-day, drizzling extra virgin olive oil on your salad and avoiding triple chocolate cookies during weekly meetings. It’s a combination of healthy eating habits and behaviours over a long period of time, and studies indicate that its benefits stem from synergistic interactions of its different components. It’s unlikely that any single nutrient accounts for neuroprotective properties – you can’t just, for example, eat more fish and live longer.

Not to be a bore; but – computational analysis rocks! It still is what I would be doing if I was starting out searching for a career path. Possibly in medicine. Certainly in science.

Taking the dozen studies and data mining also suggests the Mediterranean diet affects other age-related chronic conditions: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Yes, you should walk like a Mediterranean as well as eat like a Mediterranean.

How much does a smoker on the payroll cost? — $5,816

Kissing a smoker is like putting your tongue in an ashtray

A smoker costs a private employer in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared with a nonsmoker, according to an analysis of data collected from earlier studies on the costs of smoking.

Researchers at The Ohio State University estimated that the largest cost, at $3,077 annually, came from taking smoking breaks. Smokers took, on average, about five breaks a day, compared with the three breaks typically sanctioned for most workers.

The second largest cost, at $2,056, was related to excess health care expenses. Smokers typically have more health problems than nonsmokers, including heart and lung disease and various cancers.

The remaining costs came from increased absenteeism — the researchers found that smokers miss about two-and-a-half extra workdays each year — and lost productivity at work, perhaps because of nicotine’s withdrawal effects. The findings appeared online in June in the journal Tobacco Control.

“We certainly encourage businesses to provide smoking cessation programs. At least for large companies, it’s highly likely to save them money over time,” said Micah Berman, an assistant professor of public health and law at Ohio State and lead author of the analysis.

That’s only direct costs, of course. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke aren’t factored into the cost equation at all. The damage done to non-smoking employees by smokers.