‘More Than Physical Health’: Gym Helps 91-Year-Old Battle Isolation

MONROVIA, Calif. — Most mornings, like clockwork, you could find Art Ballard pumping iron.

At least five days a week, he drove to Foothill Gym, where he beat on the punching bag, rode a stationary bike and worked his abs. After he joined the gym five years ago, he dropped 20 pounds, improved his balance and made friends.

At 91, he’s still spry and doesn’t take any medication other than an occasional Tylenol for aches and pains.

“Doctors love me,” he said.

But when California enacted a statewide stay-at-home order in mid-March, his near-daily physical exercise and social interactions abruptly ended.

Ballard’s health started to deteriorate: His back hurt, his legs cramped and he started becoming short of breath. As happens too often with older people, he also started to feel isolated and depressed.

“I was deeply concerned for myself because I didn’t have an exercise routine at home,”

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‘I Wasn’t Eating’: Senior Twin Sisters Battle Pandemic Anxiety Together

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Ethel Sylvester dialed 911, trembling with fear. The 92-year-old felt hot. She thought turning off her thermostat could fix the problem. That didn’t help.

Alone in her apartment, in the middle of the night, Sylvester didn’t know what was happening to her body. She feared it was COVID-19. Her neighbor and twin sister, Edna Mayes, had no idea her best friend was in trouble.

“I couldn’t get to the door,” said Sylvester, recounting last month’s incident. “I was shaking, just shaking.”

Paramedics rushed her to St. Louis University Hospital where the staff determined that Sylvester had “no signs” of COVID-19 but instead had a case of high blood pressure and anxiety.

Now, Sylvester’s children say the trauma of living through the pandemic has taken a toll on their mother’s mental health. The onslaught of coronavirus news and warnings had consumed Sylvester’s thoughts, her daughter Ruth

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Massachusetts Recruits 1,000 ‘Contact Tracers’ To Battle COVID-19

Massachusetts is launching an effort to reach everyone in the state who may have the coronavirus and get them tested and into isolation or treatment if needed. The ambitious goal is to stop — not just slow — the destructive power of COVID-19 through the tedious, yet powerful public health tool called contact tracing.

Contact tracing starts with a call to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, and then follow-up with everyone that person was in close contact with — family, friends, colleagues or others they got closer than 6 feet from for more than a brief encounter. Everyone on that list is interviewed about their contacts and symptoms.

This is a routine, resource-intensive public health strategy that’s been successfully used in the U.S. and around the world to contain infectious disease outbreaks — from measles to smallpox to tuberculosis to Ebola and more.

Local public health workers

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‘Baby, I Can’t Breathe’: America’s First ER Doctor To Die In Heat Of COVID-19 Battle

At about 5 a.m. on March 19, a New York City ER physician named Frank Gabrin texted a friend about his concerns over the lack of medical supplies at hospitals.

“It’s busy ― everyone wants a COVID test that I do not have to give them,” he wrote in the message to Eddy Soffer. “So they are angry and disappointed.”

Worse, though, was the limited availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) — the masks and gloves that help keep health care workers from getting sick and spreading the virus to others. Gabrin said he had no choice but to don the same mask for several shifts, against Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

“Don’t have any PPE that has not been used,” he wrote. “No N95 masks ― my own goggles — my own face shield,” he added, referring to the N95 respirators considered among the best lines of defense.

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