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Covid 19

Use Yelp to Find Out About a Restaurants COVID-19 Safety Measures

Illustration for article titled Use Yelp to Find Out About a Restaurants COVID-19 Safety Measures

Photo: Ellyy (Shutterstock)

Whether you’re someone who inexplicably felt comfortable dining indoors during the pandemic (when that was an option), or you want to continue to support your local restaurants, but are concerned about whether they’re taking the proper safety precautions, Yelp wants to make the whole process easier for us. It’s also in their best interest: the company reported that it saw consumer interest increase by 41% for businesses that added COVID-19 business updates to their Yelp pages between September 1 and December 31, 2020.

Over the summer, Yelp revamped the COVID-19 section on businesses’ pages to allow them to easily add information about their updated service offerings and specific health and safety precautions. At the same time, the app enabled users to leave feedback on the health and safety practices they observed at businesses—a way to clue other customers in on any less-than-ideal experiences.

This week, Yelp rolled out additional features to help customers learn about a restaurant’s COVID-19 safety precautions, as well as report when they see staff ignoring public health measures, like wearing a mask. Here’s what to know.

Yelp’s new COVID-19 safety features

These updates were added to the app on Tuesday, January 12. Here’s how the company explained them in a recent blog post:

Yelp will display if users observed, or did not observe, the enforcement of social distancing and staff wearing masks. We know many businesses are prioritizing the health and safety of their customers. This new update further highlights how businesses have adapted to keep their customers safe, and aims to instill confidence in consumers to continue supporting local businesses.

We’ve also added new service offerings and health and safety practices, including “heated outdoor seating,” “1:1 sessions available,” and “disposable or contactless menu” to help businesses communicate how they’re continuing to adapt amidst changing health orders and consumer expectations.

In addition to displaying information on user observations, Yelp’s new features make it easier for customers to leave feedback on a restaurant’s adherence to public health measures.

It also allows businesses to indicate whether they have enacted the following service offerings and health and safety practices:

  • Staff checked for symptoms (available to all businesses)
  • Disposable or contactless menu (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Heated outdoor seating (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Covered outdoor seating (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Indoor dining (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Private dining (available to restaurants)
  • DIY meal kits (available to restaurants)
  • Outdoor services (available to fitness and beauty businesses)
  • 1:1 sessions available (available to fitness businesses)
  • Limited group sessions available (available to fitness businesses)

There is a lot more information on Yelp’s blog post—including on how they’ll make sure the user-generated feedback is fairly represented.

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Covid 19

What’s in Biden’s COVID Relief Plan?

Illustration for article titled What’s in Biden’s COVID Relief Plan?

Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden released a slew of COVID relief measures as part of a $1.9 trillion economic plan ahead of taking office next week—it includes a new round of relief checks, enhanced unemployment aid, and a minimum wage increase. Here’s a summary of the plan.

Billed as the American Rescue Plan, the package includes funding for vaccinations, state and local governments, and $1 trillion in direct financial relief for Americans. It’s not certain that all these measures will all survive as they wind their way through Congress, but here’s the plan for direct relief, as it stands for now:

  • A third round of relief checks: The plan calls for $1,400 checks for “eligible” recipients (presumably based on similar income thresholds used for previous checks), which, with the $600 checks being sent out now, totals $2,000. The plan also expands relief check eligibility to adult dependents and all mixed status households in which one family member is a non-citizen.
  • Additional unemployment aid: Weekly unemployment checks would include a $400 top-up in federal funds, as the plan calls for increasing the existing $300 subsidy by an additional $100. The president-elect is also proposing to extend these enhanced unemployment benefits through September 2021.
  • Rental assistance: An additional $25 billion in rental assistance funding would be provided to lower-income households who have lost jobs during the pandemic. These funds would beef up the $25 billion in rental assistance that’s available now. Another $5 billion has been earmarked for people struggling to pay overdue utility bills.
  • An extended eviction moratorium: As expected, the plan extends the federal eviction moratorium to September 30 (it currently expires January 31). There’s also some relief for people with federally-guaranteed mortgages, as they would be able to apply for forbearance until September 30, as well.
  • A $15 hourly minimum wage: The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and it would be raised to $15 an hour under Biden’s plan, which also calls for the end of tipped minimum wage (currently $2.13 per hour for people who receive at least $30 per month in tips) and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. Minimum wage was last raised in 2009.
  • More money for child care: Biden wants to create a $25-billion “Emergency Stabilization Fund” for child care providers to help pay for rent, utilities, payroll, and COVID-prevention costs. An additional $15 billion would also be added to existing grant programs. Biden also wants to expand the child tax credit to $3,000 from $2,000 for each child age 17 and younger. Children under age six would be eligible for $3,600.
  • Healthcare relief: To help people who have lost employee-sponsored health insurance, Biden wants to expand the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies so that enrollees don’t pay more than 8.5% of their income for coverage. The plan also allocates $20 billion to cover the healthcare needs of veterans, as well as $4 billion in funding for mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Restoration of emergency paid leave: The plan would reinstate paid sick and family leave benefits that recently expired, and extends them until September 30, while also closing some loopholes so that more people would be eligible (including federal workers). People who are away from work for COVID-related reasons would receive 14 weeks of paid leave. The federal government would reimburse employers with fewer than 500 workers for the full cost of providing the leave.
  • Food relief: The plan calls for $3 billion to help women, infants, and children secure food, and it would also give U.S. territories $1 billion in nutrition assistance. The 15% increase in food stamp benefits that’s set to expire in June would be extended till September.
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Covid 19

How Long Does Immunity Last After Getting Over COVID?

patient and docs giving thumbs up

Photo: C.Lotongkum (Shutterstock)

Throughout the pandemic, one of the biggest unknowns about the coronavirus has been how long people are immune after they catch it and recover. Early indications were that it must provide some immunity, since if multiple infections were possible, they would probably be common. But even a year-plus into the health crisis, the exact length of that protection isn’t clear.

A recent study from the UK provides some more data, suggesting that after a person recovers from COVID-19, their chance of getting the virus is reduced by at least 83% for at least five months. The study followed 20,000 healthcare workers, including 6,614 participants who had tested positive for antibodies. Compared to those who hadn’t contracted COVID, those who had were 83% less likely to be infected again. The actual protection may be higher than that, since the investigators found 44 “possible” reinfections in that group.

The study hasn’t been peer-reviewed, but you can read several experts’ reactions here at the UK’s Science Media Centre, and detailed news stories like this one from Nature that provide context.

The study’s results more or less agree with previous work, including this study that found healthcare workers with spike protein antibodies had better than 90% protection for 6 months.

CDC guidelines state that people who have had COVID within the last three months don’t need to quarantine if they are exposed again. That sure makes it sound like people are immune for three months, but they go on to clarify:

Evidence does not indicate the definitive absence of re-infection during this period, only that risks of potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission from recovered persons are likely outweighed by the personal and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine.

In other words, it may be possible to become infected again within three months, but it doesn’t seem to be likely.

What does this mean if I’ve had COVID?

We’ve been living through a time of so much uncertainty, with so many unanswered questions, and unfortunately this is still yet another gray area. Over the next year or two we’ll probably get a better sense of how long protection lasts. (That applies to the vaccine, too: we know it works for at least two months, but it hasn’t been around long enough for us to know whether immunity fades after months, or years, or lasts for a lifetime.)

So, here’s what experts are recommending: First, you may find it comforting to know you probably have some protection. That’s good news. But it’s not actionable news: You still have to do basically the same stuff as the rest of us.

It’s still important to wear masks, for example, and to abide by all the usual social distancing rules. Don’t think you can stand close and cough on people freely or anything like that.

You should also still get the vaccine when it becomes available for you. The CDC says that you shouldn’t get the vaccine while you have COVID, but that getting vaccinated after you have recovered is fine. If you got antibody treatment while you were sick, that could be a reason to delay vaccination, but the infection itself is not.

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Covid 19

You Now Have to Prove You Dont Have COVID Before Flying to the U.S. From Abroad

Illustration for article titled You Must Show a Negative COVID Test Before Flying to the U.S.

Photo: Jaromir Chalabala (Shutterstock)

With COVID-19 cases surging in the United States and abroad, there’s really no justifiable reason to travel internationally for pleasure right now. But if you do have an unavoidable need to travel to a different country, you’ll need to prove you don’t have COVID before you return. The Centers for Disease Control has instituted a new policy requiring anyone returning to the United States from abroad to supply a negative COVID test (or proof of recovery from the virus) before stepping onboard a plane.

The policy goes into effect on Jan. 26, and will put the onus entirely on airlines to refuse seats to passengers who fail to comply or meet the requirements.

PCR tests or proof of recovery are required

The CDC’s order requires anyone traveling to the United States from abroad to provide proof of a negative test obtained no more than three days prior to their departing flight. If a traveler has tested positive for the virus within the last three months, they must provide proof of their recovery from a licensed healthcare professional or healthcare official.

Antibody tests don’t satisfy the CDC’s rules, and the announcement makes no mention of rapid tests. It’s probably the best course of action to get a PCR swab test if you have to travel internationally. If a traveler fails to present a negative test on the required timeline, the airline is mandated to refuse that traveler entry to the plane, per the CDC.

To display proof of test results, the CDC recommends bringing a “paper or electronic copy of their test result for review by the airline before you board and for potential review by public health officials after you arrive in the US.”

If you’re supplying proof of recovery from COVID, the CDC requires travelers to comply with the guidelines below:

You may travel instead with documentation of your positive viral test results and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”

If you wind up testing positive before your return flight, expect an impromptu quarantine in your vacation destination. Airlines aren’t likely to reimburse you for a missed flight due to a positive test. The rules apply to “all air passengers, 2 years of age or older, traveling into the US, including US citizens and legal permanent residents,” the agency says.

Why travel internationally right now?

International travel has tanked during the pandemic, understandably. Americans are still barred from entering most of Europe, and many of the destinations currently open to U.S. travelers are in the Caribbean, Mexico, South, and Central America, and Africa—all of which impose their own varying levels of coronavirus restrictions on entering travelers.

On Dec. 28, the CDC began requiring U.S.-bound travelers from the United Kingdom to produce a negative coronavirus test, though the directive now applies to everyone bound for the states.

Where do you get tested in a foreign country?

No matter where you are, you’ll have to be able to find a legitimate medical clinic with access to a supporting lab that supplies legitimate results so you can ensure you are meeting the guidelines for your return trip.

As USA Today recommends, airlines and tourism boards can likely help you in this pursuit:

Look for guidance from airlines, hotels, tourism bureaus and health care providers in the coming weeks. Travelers to Hawaii have to provide a negative test to enter the state and bypass a mandatory quarantine, and airlines and tourism officials have provide extensive details on testing options. American Airlines said it will not be providing tests for passengers.

People who’ve been vaccinated still need to show test results

Given the early stages of the U.S.’ vaccination program, most people won’t be inoculated from COVID for a while. But even if you have been vaccinated, the CDC still wants you to get a test if you’re returning from abroad.

There’s no timeline for when these requirements might be lifted, but you can expect them to remain in place as long as the pandemic continues to batter the country (and the world).

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Covid 19

All Adults Over 65 May Soon Be Eligible for the COVID Vaccine

vaccine vial

Photo: siam.pukkato (Shutterstock)

If you’ve found it hard to keep track of whose turn it is to get the COVID vaccine, there’s good news and bad news. The White House is recommending that everyone over 65 and adults with high-risk conditions be able to get the vaccine starting two weeks from now, which means a lot of people will be eligible sooner than they thought. The bad news? The process of actually getting the vaccine is still confusing and differs from state to state. Also, we don’t have enough doses for everyone in the new eligibility groups.

The original plan, from a CDC advisory panel called ACIP, was to have overlapping priority groups called phases 1a, 1b, and 1c. Healthcare workers are in group 1a, and if you have friends who work in healthcare, you’ve probably seen countless vaccine selfies in your social media feeds. (If you don’t, take a look at the History of Vaccines Instagram account, which is documenting this history in the making.)

But even this phase has been tricky to implement, as nearly 30 million doses have been shipped out so far, the CDC reports, but only 10 million people have been vaccinated. Some of the difference may be a reporting lag, but it also seem like vaccines just aren’t getting to everyone who wants them.

Why is this so complicated?

Each state operates its own vaccine distribution program. States don’t have to follow the priority guidelines, so many have been making their own tweaks—for example, allowing older people to be vaccinated already. Whether you’re eligible or not depends on who you are and what state you happen to live in. That will most likely still be the case with the new rule.

States also weren’t given enough funding to support the massive project they were being asked to do, as giving shots to every adult in the country is a huge undertaking. STAT reports that state and local public health officials asked for $8.4 billion dollars in October to do the job properly; that money wasn’t authorized until the coronavirus stimulus bill passed in December, after vaccinations had already begun.

Honestly, I’m surprised no one in the government managed to even throw up a hotline or a website at, say, vaccine.gov, where you could look up whether you’re eligible and where to find your nearest vaccination site. Instead, you need to check with your state or local health department, and follow whatever instructions they give you. In many areas, older folks who don’t own a smartphone have had trouble booking vaccine appointments, since many systems require you to sign up on a website and be able to receive texts.

There are practical aspects, too. The vaccines have a limited amount of time they can be stored at each temperature (freezer, refrigerator, etc.) and hospitals have sometimes had to throw away doses that can’t be used at the end of the day. In some places, at the end of the day, vaccines can be offered to anyone regardless of priority group to make sure doses are not wasted; in others, like New York, there are penalties for vaccinating people who don’t fall in the current priority groups. (That rule was intended to stop people from skipping the line and getting shots just because they’re famous or friends with whoever is scheduling vaccines.)

What happens next?

Well, it’s hard to say. The recent plan, announced yesterday by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, involves changing the rules for how vaccines are divided among the states, and it recommends that states consider people over 65 and those with high-risk medical conditions immediately eligible.

But the changes don’t take effect for two weeks, which puts the date after the inauguration. Joe Biden will be president then, and his administration could change the plan. (Operation Warp Speed says they didn’t coordinate with Biden’s people on this.)

If the change holds, it may mean that more people are competing for the same small number of vaccination appointments, but it may also mean that fewer doses will be wasted. Either way, keep an eye on your local or state health department’s website (in some states, you can sign up to be notified) to find out when it’s your turn.

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Covid 19

Watch Out, This Toxic Kibble Has Killed Over 70 Dogs

Illustration for article titled Watch Out, This Toxic Kibble Has Killed Over 70 Dogs

Photo: Paul Michael Hughes (Shutterstock)

Managing your own health is hard enough, so the demands of keeping up with a pet’s can certainly add to the stress of life. And while you’d hardly think what you’re feeding your beloved dog could be toxic, a new pet food recall brings that reality to life: The Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced a recall affecting six different mixes of dog kibble manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods. The afflicted kibble is suspected to contain aflatoxin, a poisonous carcinogen that develops on certain crops such as corn and grains, and in soil.

This isn’t any routine snafu either: the tainted Sportmix product has reportedly killed upwards of 70 dogs, while an additional 80 pets have become sick after eating the food. Of course, it goes without saying to be careful with Sportmix dog kibble at the current moment. Beyond that, here’s what you should know.

There’s an ongoing investigation

While it’s unclear whether aflatoxin is the actual culprit, authorities certainly suspect it’s to blame for the unnecessary deaths of dozens of dogs. As the agency writes in a news release, the toxin’s presence hasn’t been confirmed in a laboratory, which is crucial to announcing their findings with certainty:

Not all of these cases have been officially confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review. This count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected.

The link, however, is about the corn in Sportmix kibble. Since the product contains corn, authorities suspect there’s at least some presence of aflatoxin, which is known to flourish on corn. Aflatoxins are produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, and can cause illness and death in dogs and other pets if consumed at high enough levels.

Typically, consumption of the toxin leaves dogs sluggish and with gastrointestinal issues. Sometimes they develop jaundice, which gives a yellowish tint to their eyes and gums. In other instances, the dogs exhibit no signs that anything is wrong until it’s clearly a crisis.

The products were distributed nationally

This isn’t a simple recall affecting a few bags of kibble, but a giant one affecting much, if not all, of the products produced at one of Midwestern Pet Food’s Oklahoma factories. The recall was originally announced on December 30, with the company homing in on nine total lots of Sportmix pet food products. Since then, it’s been expanded: On Monday, the company expanded the recall to all corn-based products produced in the firm’s Oklahoma plant and that expire on or before July 9, 2022.

That is a lot of dog food—even too much for the FDA to list in its advisory—but some notable brands affected by the issue are Sportmix, Propac, Splash Fat Cat, and Nunn Better Maintenance, among others. The issues spans stores across the nation in addition to online retailers, the FDA notes.

What you should do

For starters, it might just be a good thing to get rid of anything produced by Midwestern Pet Food and switch to a different brand, for now. In lieu of that, though, the FDA recommends referencing the lot number on the bag of food, which can provide some helpful indications: As the agency writes, “if the date/lot code includes an expiration date on or before ‘07/09/22′ and includes ‘05,’” then your food is probably toxic and needs to be thrown out.

Better safe than sorry, so if you suspect you’ve been caught up in the mess, the garbage can is always the best receptacle for anything toxic to your pet.

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Covid 19

How to Manage Your Childs Pet Allergy

Illustration for article titled How to Manage Your Childs Pet Allergy

Photo: Yuliya Evstratenko (Shutterstock)

Discovering that anyone in the home—but particularly one of the kids—is allergic to the family pet can be upsetting. Our pets are members of our family, so discovering that their mere presence is negatively impacting the health or physical comfort of your child creates a stressful situation. But if it happens, and provided the allergy isn’t severe, there are steps you can take to ease your child’s symptoms without resorting to rehoming the animal.

If you have young kids and you’re still deciding whether to bring a new pet home—and you have a strong history of allergies in your family—you may want to wait until they’re old enough to confirm whether they have a pet allergy themselves. If an animal allergy is suspected, it’s a good idea to expose the child to the pet a few times to watch for symptoms before committing to an adoption. Keep in mind, though, that it can take months of exposure before allergy symptoms appear.

If you already have a pet that is causing your child to sneeze and wheeze, there are some things you can do to help manage the situation.

Make sure the animal really is the problem

Pet allergy symptoms are caused by proteins found in the animal’s skin cells (dander), saliva, or urine. They can include sneezing; coughing; a runny nose; itchy, red, or watery eyes; nasal congestion; itchy nose, roof of mouth, or throat; postnasal drip; facial pressure and pain; and swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes. According to The Mayo Clinic, a child might also frequently rub their nose in an upward motion. But pets are sometimes blamed for causing an allergic reaction in kids when the offending allergen is something else entirely.

If your child is displaying allergy symptoms, it’s best to first consult with their pediatrician or allergist to have them tested to confirm what is causing the reaction. As the American Academy of Pediatrics says:

Occasionally, symptoms that seem to be caused by an animal may be, in fact, due to other allergies, such as to pollen or mold. What happens is that Fido and Felix explore outdoors, then come back into the house with a load of pollen granules and mold spores in their coats. Every time the hay fever sufferer pats the pets, he stirs up an invisible cloud of allergens that triggers symptoms.

Create an “allergy-free” zone

The child’s bedroom is the most important room to keep as clean and clear of allergens as possible, so start by keeping that room off-limits to the pet. You may also consider dust mite covers for their bedding, as dust mites are another common allergy trigger.

Beyond the bedroom, the fewer rooms you can limit the pet’s access to, the better. Maybe you can gate off the upstairs of the house, particularly if the floors on the main level have hard surfaces and the bedroom floors are carpeted. Pet dander sticks more to surfaces like carpet, drapes, curtains, and upholstered furniture than it does to hard surfaces like wood, tile, or laminate. As Beth Orenstein writes for Everyday Health:

Plus, the latter are easier to clean. For this reason, you also shouldn’t let your allergic child sleep with stuffed animals, Dr. [Mervat] Nassef, [a pediatric allergist and immunologist at NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City], adds. If you must have carpet in your child’s bedroom or elsewhere in your home, select a low-pile one and have it steam-cleaned regularly.

Even doing all of this will not fully prevent the spread of allergens throughout the home—air currents from forced-air heating and air conditioning systems will push allergens from room to room. However, you may be able to outfit them with an air purifying system or HEPA filters.

Become a total clean freak

If your child (or someone else in your home) is allergic to a pet, you will need to clean, clean, clean—and then clean some more. Pet dander is notorious for its ability to linger on any number of surfaces, so while frequent vacuuming of the floors might be obvious, you’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping walls, furniture, blinds, ceiling fans, and curtains clean. Your pet’s bed and toys should also be washed regularly.

Clean your kid, too. If your child has physical contact with the pet, such as by petting or being licked by the animal, encourage them to immediately wash their hands or any area that came into contact with the pet with soap and water. Teach them to avoid touching their eyes after interacting with the animal, and if they’ve been playing with it (preferably outside!), have them change their clothes. Showering before bed can also help reduce the amount of allergens a child brings into their bedroom at night.

Talk to your vet about food and bathing

Bathing your pet regularly can help reduce the amount of allergens it sheds. However, you don’t want to overdo it and cause its skin to dry out and shed even more dander. Aim for a weekly bath, and consult with your veterinarian about the best shampoo to use on your specific pet. Regular brushing will also remove dander—but do this outside so you don’t send the dander into the indoor air.

Your vet may also have suggestions for changes you can make to the animal’s diet that may help its skin retain moisture and reduce shedding. A diet with a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can support healthier skin.

Treatment or (gulp) removal

If you’ve tried all of the above and it simply hasn’t been enough to manage your child’s symptoms, you can talk to their allergist about whether there are any over-the-counter or prescription treatment options available.

Many families will consider rehoming a pet as a last resort. If your child’s allergies cannot be managed and doing so becomes necessary, The Humane Society has tips for finding it a new home.

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Covid 19

Paris Club of international creditors accept Kenya debt relief request – Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – The Paris Club of international creditors said on Monday it had accepted a request from Kenya for a debt-servicing suspension from January to the end of June.

“Kenya is committed to devote the resources freed by this initiative to increase spending in order to mitigate the health, economic and social impact of the COVID19-crisis,” the Paris Club said in a statement on its website.

Kenya is also committed to seeking from other bilateral official creditors debt-servicing treatment in line with the agreed terms of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) of the G20 group of rich nations and big emerging powers, the creditors added in their statement.

Kenya changed its mind about the G20 coronavirus debt relief initiative after declining to join earlier in 2020, and Finance Minister Finance Minister Ukur Yatani said in November that it was planning to defer around $690 million in debt payments.

Joining the arrangement was important, Yatani said then, as it will help open doors for further funding from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

In December, the IMF said Kenyan authorities were continuing talks with the Fund on the remaining provisions of an IMF financing program for the East African country that could be presented to the IMF board in early 2021.

Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Tom Arnold and Hugh Lawson

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Covid 19

How to Exfoliate Your Scalp to Stay Flake-Free This Winter

Illustration for article titled How to Exfoliate Your Scalp to Stay Flake-Free This Winter

Photo: MRAORAOR (Shutterstock)

Winter can be pretty rough on our skin—especially for those who live somewhere with forced-air heating. This is true not only about the skin on our faces, hands and arms, but also on our head. That’s right: the scalp. And up there, dry skin = dandruff. If you’re not a fan of the usual dandruff shampoos, or they just aren’t cutting it, you may want to give another method of exfoliating your scalp a try. Here’s what to know.

Who might benefit from scalp exfoliation

Everyone’s skin—including their scalp skin—is different, so exfoliating may not be helpful for you. In fact, like exfoliating the skin on your face, it may not be something your scalp responds well to. But for others, it can something useful for clearing out the dirt, oil, product and other debris that can build up in your hair and on your scalp.

So how can you tell if you might benefit from scalp exfoliation? Certainly, the most obvious clue is that you have dandruff: either dry flakes that fall off on their own, or bigger, stickier flakes that stay on your hair and/or scalp. Another is that your hair “hurts” at the root—something that is caused by inflammation from dirt, oil and product build-up.

How to exfoliate your scalp

Not surprisingly, there are a ton of tools and products out there now to help you maintain your scalp health. But that doesn’t mean all of them work or are necessary (more on that below). MindBodyGreen broke down several of the options out there.

Shampoos and scrubs

The classic dandruff remedy is using shampoo with tea tree oil or salicylic acid, which gets rid of the built-up oil and debris. There are also scalp scrubs, which work similarly to the ones you use on your face and body by loosening up the dead skin on the scalp so you can wash it away.

But be sure to get a scrub that is safe for your scalp (and has small granules), and be gentle. And regardless of what you’re using to exfoliate, use your fingertips and not your fingernails, which can scratch your scalp and cause additional problems.

Brushing

Finally, Marcia Brady was onto something with her hair-brushing: that’s another way to usher the dead skin and other debris out of your hair (though it’s not going to get rid of the oil). If brushing isn’t something you normally do, you might want to start it, at least occasionally.

And of course, there are plenty of specialty scalp brushes (also called “scalp massagers”) available, if you want to go that route. These are typically smaller, round (with a handle on top), and have bristles made of silicon or plastic. MindBodyGreen has a dedicated guide to using scalp brushes, if you need some guidance.

A quick reminder

Having said all that, not everyone needs to go out of their way to exfoliate their scalp. And either way, you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to go out and buy a bunch of new haircare products and feel gross if you don’t. Like most other similar health/beauty treatments, do what works best for you and don’t feel pressured to drop cash on unnecessary stuff.

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Covid 19

Mexican president offers to vaccinate unlawful migrants in U.S. – Reuters India

(Corrects percentage of undocumented immigrants in meat-packing plants in 6th paragraph to 11% in Nebraska and 10% nationwide instead of 14%)

MEXICO CITY, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Mexico’s president said on Wednesday he was ready to provide coronavirus vaccines to undocumented migrants in the United States, after the governor of the U.S. state of Nebraska said they would likely not get vaccinated due to immigration status.

“It’s a universal right. We would do it,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a regular government news conference when asked if Mexico would vaccinate undocumented migrants in the United States, many of which are Mexican nationals.

He did not elaborate on how his government would execute such a plan, or which migrants would qualify.

The comments on Tuesday about workers at Nebraska’s meat-packing plants by state governor Pete Ricketts, a member of President Donald Trump’s Republican party, had provoked criticism from public health and migrant advocates.

“You’re supposed to be a legal resident of the country to be able to be working in those plants, so I do not expect that illegal immigrants will be part of that vaccine with that program,” Ricketts told a coronavirus briefing.

The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates 11% of Nebraska’s meat-packing workers – and 10% of the workers nationwide – lack legal immigration status.

Widespread COVID-19 outbreaks occurred at meat-packing plants in the United States in the spring, helping spread the virus around rural America where plants are concentrated.

Roberto Velasco, a senior Mexican diplomat for North America, responded to Ricketts on Tuesday night.

“To deprive undocumented essential workers of #covid19 vaccination goes against basic human rights,” he wrote on Twitter, including Ricketts’ Twitter handle and citing text from the U.N.’s declaration of human rights.

Among critics of Ricketts’ statement was U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leader of pro-migrant progressives in the Democratic party of President-elect Joe Biden.

“Imagine being so racist that you go out of your way to ensure that the people who prepare *your* food are unvaccinated,” she wrote on Twitter.

The question of access to vaccines based on citizenship has become contentious in some parts of the world.

For instance, rights groups have expressed outrage that Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip face a long wait for vaccines. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Raul Cortes Fernandez in Mexico City, Caroline Stauffer in Chicago and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by David Gregorio)