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Droplets leak through folded handkerchief mask. Photo: S. Verma, M.Dhanak, J. Frankenfield

See what type of homemade face mask is best against COVID-19.

What's the Best DIY Face Mask Against COVID-19?

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Almost overnight, the pandemic has turned cotton masks into an American wardrobe staple. But a coughing simulation shows that not all cotton masks are equal as a defense against COVID-19.

"We focused primarily on nonmedical-grade masks that are recommended for use by the wider public," said lead author Siddhartha Verma. He's an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University's Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering.

Using a mannequin head, air pumps and lasers, Verma and his team tracked emissions from a mechanically generated cough to see how well bandana-style coverings, folded cotton handkerchiefs, and/or stitched masks managed to contain them. Those are the types of face coverings that are widely available to the general public.

Read the full HealthDay story.

As gyms begin reopening, they'll look a bit different than you're used to, with fewer machines, smaller group classes and no lockers or showers for use, among other things.

America's Gyms Are Reopening and Your Workout Will Change

MONDAY, June 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Gyms are finally reopening across the United States, but your workout will not be the same.

Some chains are offering individual workouts while group classes are still on hold, post-workout showers will be done at home, the 6-foot rule is in place for gym patrons, and sanitizing your hands and equipment frequently is a must.

"Y members should expect that facilities will look and operate different than what they're used to," said Ryan O'Malley, national director of public relations at the YMCA.

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Certain factors came together that made the Navajo Nation the hardest hit area in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The infection rate is more than 3.4% there. In comparison, New York City's infection rate is 1.9%.

COVID-19 Ravages the Navajo Nation, But Its People Fight Back

TUESDAY, June 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. center hardest hit by COVID-19 isn't headline-grabbing New York City; it's the Navajo Nation in the American southwest.

About the size of West Virginia and situated on 27,000 square miles of land spread across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, Navajo Nation is home to approximately 175,000 people.

It's also home to a coronavirus infection rate of more than 3.4% and more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Navajo Nation Department of Health.

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People with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) were found to be more likely to die from a COVID-19 infection than the general public.

People With Intellectual Disabilities Are Being Hit Hard by COVID-19

MONDAY, June 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- New research is shining a light on a group particularly vulnerable to the new coronavirus: People with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), cared for either by family at home or in group homes.

People with these types of disabilities include those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other conditions, and the data shows they're significantly more likely to die after contracting COVID-19 than the general public.

According to the database used in the study, the virus claimed the lives of just under 3% of COVID-19 patients between the ages of 18 and 74 who did not have an IDD. But among COVID-19 patients who do have an IDD, that figure rose by half, to 4.5%.

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Plasma transfusions from recovered patients have been used since at least 1918 during the Spanish Flu pandemic, and a new study finds they may also help people who are critically ill with COVID-19.

Plasma Therapy Aids Recovery in Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients

WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The blood plasma of people who have recovered from the new coronavirus infection may help critically ill COVID-19 patients recover, a new study finds.

Of 25 sick patients given plasma transfusions, 19 improved and 11 left the hospital, the researchers reported. None of the patients had side effects from the transfusion.

"While physician scientists around the world scrambled to test new drugs and treatments against the COVID-19 virus, convalescent serum therapy emerged as potentially one of the most promising strategies," explained lead researcher Dr. James Musser, chair of the department of pathology and genomic medicine at Houston Methodist hospital. "With no proven treatments or cures for COVID-19 patients, now was the time in our history to move ahead rapidly."

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The rise in obesity could stem from sedentary behavior now that schools have shut down and afterschool sports and other activities have stopped.

Stay-at-Home Orders Could Mean More Obese Kids: Study

MONDAY, June 1, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As if the childhood obesity epidemic isn't bad enough, new research warns that over one million more American boys and girls stand to become obese if coronavirus-related school closures continue through the end of the year.

The culprit: a steep rise in sedentary behavior following the spring shutdown of school and afterschool sports and activities across all 50 states.

"If school closures continue to the end of 2020 -- due to unsubdued community transmission of COVID-19 -- the childhood obesity rate in the U.S. might further increase by 2.4%," said study author Ruopeng An. He's an assistant professor with the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Experts share effective coping strategies for those who are feeling stressed during lockdown.

Lockdown Got You Down? Experts Offer Tips to De-Stress

TUESDAY, May 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Though the physical health risks posed by COVID-19 are at the top of everyone's mind, experts warn the pandemic is also exacting a massive toll on mental health.

So finds new research emerging on the mental health effects in China, where infection peaks and lockdowns have preceded the American experience by several months.

For example, one recent study in the journal Psychiatry Research surveyed more than 7,200 Chinese men and women during the country's February lockdown. More than a third were found to be suffering from COVID-related "generalized anxiety disorder," while about a fifth struggled with signs of depression. Just over 18% reported sleeping difficulties.

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While in-person talk therapy is the gold standard for helping hypochondria patients, a new study suggests online therapy can be just as effective.

COVID and Hypochondria: Online Therapy May Help Ease Fears

TUESDAY, May 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- This is not a good time to have hypochondria. For folks who routinely obsess about their health, the coronavirus crisis could greatly magnify their distress. But there's some good news for them in this era of sheltering-in-place.

While in-person talk therapy is the gold standard for helping hypochondria patients overcome a crippling fear of health threats, a new study suggests online therapy can be just as effective.

Prior research suggests "that people who typically worry much about their health react more strongly to health-related threats, such as that of a pandemic," said Erland Axelsson, the study author. And if so, the ability to access online treatment options could prove invaluable to such patients, he said.

Read the full HealthDay story.