Science Update: 5 Tips to Protect Yourself From COVID-19

FEW believes the U.S. government should be a model employer and progress will allow members to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security. FEW supports paid leave for federal employees so you can care for your family. Most agencies have also adopted internal policies for employee COVID-19 leave. Please check with your agency’s human resources department for their COVID-19 leave policy. Several U.S. government websites also provide updates about frequently asked questions pertaining to COVID-19.

Schools have gone virtual. Events are cancelled. Businesses have enacted work from home policies and travel bans are in place.

Every aspect of your life, including your daily routine has been significantly altered. It’s completely normal to feel unsettled or anxious.

How can you cope with the disruption and find a “zen” mindset while keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure by steering clear of the 3Cs—spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact. Every day preventative actions, such as social distancing and wearing a mask also help to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Here’s five tips to cope with the stress and protect yourself from COVID-19:

Tip #1: Wear a mask the right way

Although masks keep people who are infected from spreading respiratory droplets when they cough, sneeze or talk, they are not a substitute for social distancing. Always wear a mask in public and when around people who don’t live in your household. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in addition to protecting others from the coronavirus, wearing a mask also offers protection to you from breathing in the virus. The CDC is currently studying the effectiveness of various cloth mask materials.

For maximum protection, be sure you are wearing your mask the right way—put it over your nose and mouth and secure it against the sides of your face. It should fit snuggly. Try not to touch your mask while wearing it, but if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. When removing your mask, handle only the ear loops or ties. Of course, be sure to wash and completely dry your cloth mask each time you wear it.

Tip #2: Maintain an exercise routine
Not only is exercise essential for your well-being during the pandemic but getting your heart pumping for 150 minutes a week can also reduce stress, prevent weight gain, boost your immune system and improve sleep. Afterall, physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. Exercise helps regulate your immune system, which may also reduce severe symptoms of COVID-19. In fact, several studies have linked moderate exercise with decreased rates of influenza and pneumonia, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Tip #3: Take care of your mental health
During these uncertain times, your mental state can impact every aspect of your life, exacerbating an already challenging situation. That’s why it is important to identify ways you can look after your mental health. Follow trusted news sources, exercise, meditate, take on a new hobby and maintain a daily routine. If you are missing social interaction, consider new, “virtual” possibilities—join a yoga class, take a cooking lesson, find a book club or socialize with FEW. However, if you need additional support during this challenging time, make an appointment to speak with a medical professional.

Tip #4: Run errands safely
When heading to the grocery store or running essential errands, disinfect the handles of your cart or basket before shopping. If possible, do your errands during off hours—early in the day or later in the evening. While shopping, maintain a safe distance from others, preferably six feet apart and only touch items you plan to purchase. Of course, wear your mask, pay using a touchless method that doesn’t require a card, money or touching a keypad. Be sure to sanitize your hands when you are finished shopping. Once you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Then wash them again after putting away your items. When possible, take advantage of online ordering or curbside pickup.

Tip #5: Stay safe at home
Although COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces, there are several ways to keep your home free from germs. Clean high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, countertops, phone screens and bathroom surfaces) daily by cleaning the surfaces with soap and water and then using an EPA-registered household disinfectant. A recent study found that the coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours and live on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours and plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

Although you are likely taking every precaution to stay safe at home and in public, it is a good idea to plan ahead in case someone in your household becomes infected. If possible, the sick person should be isolated to a separate room and bathroom.

For more information, visit few.org.

Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month

Federally Employed Women proudly recognizes Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month. The 2020 National theme is Sovereignty is Sacred:  Sharing Our Rights & Cultures. 

One of earliest recorded attempts to create a day of recognition for the contributions of “First Americans” dates back to 1912, when Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca Nation), who founded several Indian rights organizations, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to recognize “First Americans” Day, which they did for three years.   The first American Indian Day was celebrated in New York, May 1916. The effort was led by a member of the Blackfeet Nation, Red Fox James, who rode across the nation on horseback seeking approval from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating the month of November “National American Indian Heritage Month.” 

Special observances such as Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month were designed for the purpose of providing cultural awareness to everyone. The month of November has been designated to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and to acknowledge the important contributions of America’s indigenous people.  Commemorative activities conducted for special observance months should be educational and inclusive.  As the National theme suggests, autonomy is extremely important to Native Americans, but it is also very important for us to help them preserve traditions and share their history and culture. Connection to history is essential because it establishes a sense of identity and belonging.  There is so much that we can learn from Native American’s deep respect for the earth and harmony with nature, the cycle of all living things, and the love and respect for family and community.

There are many resources available to find programs and activities.  The Society of American Indian Government Employees is a constant resource throughout the year.  During the month of November, Saige will be hosting several virtual programs and commemorative events.  Please visit www.saige.org and share the events with your chapter/region members.

Also during the month, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. 

Please check out https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/ for a calendar of events


About the Artist: Timothy Tate NEVAQUAYA

Timothy Tate Nevaquaya is a Comanche and Chickasaw/Choctaw artist, veteran, and minister from Apache, Oklahoma. The son of the late Comanche master artist and flutist, Doc Tate Nevaquaya and his wife Charlotte Foraker-Nevaquaya, Timothy’s art career began at the foot of his father’s drafting table, as a child. His early education included receiving direction from his father in the basic fundamentals of Native American art
forms, as well as flute making. These early experiences began his dance with Native American art, Native American flute, and Native American history and culture with a strong emphasis on Comanche history. As a youth, he was witness to some of the greatest Southern Plains and other Native American artists from his father’s contemporary circle of friends and colleagues. He has been a part of the reemergence of the Native American flute culture. As a young man, he participated in many of his father’s lectures and demonstrations on the flute. At age 12, he began to compose music on his father’s flutes; at age 14 he began making the flutes.

Early in his career, he immersed himself in the history of the Comanche people through independent studies. He began painting in the flat two-dimensional style reminiscent of the Southern Plains artists before him. As time went along he transitioned into a western American realism style. After many years of hard work and devotion to his art, it was in 2007, that he found his signature style, which can be characterized as, “an accident
on the canvas.” This happy mistake is where the door opened up and led to a great revelation in his artwork and in thought, and which changed the course of his life and his work. After working tirelessly on an Apache Mountain spirit piece at his home studio one night, he smudged the paints on his canvas, which created, “a happy accident.” “I remember smacking the canvas with my paintbrush and it was loaded with paint. I became incredibly frustrated, but through this mistake is when that great door opened up. I saw a different and abstract appearance in my work.” So began the journey with Nevaquaya’s latest style, which is his personal expression of movement and form in contemporary Native American art.

Nevaquaya has performed and shown his work in places such as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, The Gilcrease Museum of Western Art, The Philbrook Museum, the Oklahoma Governor’s Ball, the Oklahoma State Capitol, The University of Oklahoma, The Great Plains Museum, the Southern Plains Museum, the Comanche Museum other places. He owns and operates Nevaquaya Fine Arts: A Legacy Gallery in Tulsa, OK and makes his home in Apache, Eagletown, and Tulsa Oklahoma
with his sons.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

2020 marks the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and also the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The theme for this year is ‘Increasing Access and Opportunity”.

NDEAM is administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment. The purpose of National Disability month is to celebrate America’s workers with disabilities and to remind employers of the importance of inclusive hiring. Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy has said, “People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt. Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”

Here are some ideas for federal agencies who wish to participate in NDEAM:

  • Join Feed – Federal Exchange on Employment & Disability. This is an interagency working group which focuses on information sharing, best practices, and collaborative partnerships to help make the federal government a positive employer of people with disabilities.
  • Access the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) – this program connects federal and private sector employees to qualified students and recent graduates with disabilities.
  • Provide federal-specific training – Agencies can use this month to provide training to all employees and refresher training to disability program managers, hiring managers, supervisors, EEO representatives and selective placement coordinators.
  • Start a mentoring program – Federal agencies can participate in Disability Mentoring Day (see References below) on the third Wednesday of October.
  • Feature NDEAM in social media activities – using the hashtag #NDEAM

Resources:

Disability Mentoring Day

What Can You Do?

Ideas for Federal Agencies

Hispanic Heritage Month 2020

Be Proud of your Past and Embrace the Future

Hispanic Heritage Week was first celebrated in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, and the observance was expanded into Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988 under Ronald Reagan. Hispanic Americans today are identified according to the parts of the world that they or their ancestors may have come from, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or any of the Spanish speaking nations of Central or South America.

As of 2019, the US Hispanic population was numbered at 60.6 million, or about 18% of the US population. Hispanics are the second largest racial or ethnic group. The five states with the largest Hispanic population are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

The starting date of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15, coincides with the independence day of several Central American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Celebrations are done in many ways, from parades to concerts and food fairs.  On an individual level, visit a museum to study Hispanic artists, or research important Hispanic figures.

Resources:

Hispanic Heritage Month

American Latino Heritage

Hispanic History

US Hispanic Population Figures

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA disaster plan graphic

The idea behind the September observation of National Preparedness month is to encourage individuals to take important steps to prepare for emergencies. Individuals and families need to be aware of the types of emergencies that may affect them in order to create a useful emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and become engaged in the preparation of their community. National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

There is an abundance of resources available online to assist with information one may need to consider while planning for emergencies. Please see the resources listed at the end of this article for links to that information.

Some of the many considerations for an emergency plan can include:

  • How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is your shelter plan?
  • What is your evacuation route?
  • What is your family communication plan?
  • How do you need to update your plans or preparations with regarded to COVID-19?
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Dietary needs
  • Pets or service animals
  • Devices and equipment for the disabled
  • Battery and electronics charging backups
  • Reviewing and updating insurance coverage
  • Protecting critical documents and valuables
  • First aid supplies

Take time this month to consider or update your family’s plans for emergencies.


Resources:

FEMA Emergency Preparedness Publications

Department of Homeland Security Website

Making a Plan

September is Healthy Aging Month

group of women exercising

Healthy Aging Month has been observed for over 20 years. Its purpose is to provide inspiration and ideas for those ages 45+ for physical, mental, and financial well-being. We’re not just talking about baby-boomers anymore – The first of the Generation X-ers reached the age of 50 in 2015!

It may be time to re-invent yourself – is there something you’d like to learn more about? An athletic goal you would like to try? A new business you would like to start? Somewhere you’ve been hoping to travel? Go for the rejuvenation that comes with positive measures to enrich your life.

Here are some suggestions to re-invent yourself this September:

1. Do Not Act Your Age – Don’t accept ‘expectations’ about your age – be the age you want!

2. Be Positive

3.  Ditch the Negativity – surround yourself with positive people

4. Walk Tall – Find the best, most comfortable and supportive shoes and walk with confidence

5.  Stand Tall – Do what your mother told you and stand up straight!

6. How are your teeth?  – Good oral health is a big part of overall health – visit your dentist regularly. Also, consider teeth whitening for a younger look!

7. Lonely? – Pick up the phone, landline, or cell and make a call to do one or more of the following:  Volunteer your time, take a class, or invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee. 

8. Walk 10,000 Steps A Day – Good for your health, your mental well-being and a good way to see your neighbors!

9. Exercise – Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent ways to improve your balance and agility.

10. Mental Acuity – Games and puzzles are great ways to actively exercise your memory.

11. Diet – Eat a well-balance diet for digestive and heart health.

12. Get Your Annual Check-Ups – See your doctor at least annually and keep up with health screenings.

13. Find your inner artist – Music? Art? Woodworking? Crafts? All wonderful ways to add richness to your life.

14. Get plenty of sleep! It’s never too late to take a pro-active approach to aging! This September, try a few new things to enrich your life and improve your health.


Resources:

Healthy Aging

September – Healthy Aging Month

Health Highlights – September

Women’s Equality Day

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. The amendment states:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by and State on account of sex.”

The Women’s Suffragist movement formally began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls convention in Seneca Falls, NY. Organizers drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions” echoing the Declaration of Independence that all men and women are created equal. The battle for equality and the right to vote continued for over 70 years with women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Carrie Chapman Catt on the frontlines, lobbying Congress and the White House on behalf of American women.

As we celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the 19th Amendment right to vote, which is the foundation of democracy, please join me in honoring those who fought for women’s right to vote and exercise that right to effect change.

I believe that the influence of woman will save the
country before every other power
.”
~ Lucy Stone

Spend Time with Children

group of happy children

Children are our future. They absorb the life around them and we can maximize their experiences by choosing actions that make a difference. In times of e-learning and social distancing, we can help our children with enriching and meaningful life experiences and in managing the stress of the additional demands of our time.

Most recommendations for making a difference for children reference being fully present for the child in your life. Put down the phone, make eye contact, smile, listen, and provide your full attention. Share meals without electronics.

Here are a number of other suggestions:

  1. Spend time with a child – your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, child of a friend.
  2. Help a child immerse him or herself in what (s)he loves most at the moment.
  3. Focus on a child’s strengths.
  4. Model perseverance and patience.
  5. Show a positive attitude.
  6. Don’t avoid stressors – instead, talk about them with a view to developing coping tactics.
  7. Be reassuring.
  8. Watch for signs of trouble or abuse in the child’s life; bring it to the attention of appropriate resources.
  9. Support an organization that serves children – Scouts, YMCA, Big Brothers and Sisters, local recreation outlets, or places of worship.
  10. Tell policy makers to support initiatives that are good for children.

July is a great month to spend time with children. The rewards for the child are lifetime in length, and the rewards for you are too.


Resources:

Post-Traumatic Stress Awareness Month June 2020

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness

PTSD graphic

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental health issue some people develop after being exposed to traumatic or life-threatening events. We commonly think of it in relation to combat and other military experiences, but it may be caused by other trauma such as a physical or sexual attack, a serious accident, terrorist attacks or natural disasters.   It may include reliving the event, avoiding things that remind one of the event, having more negative thoughts and feelings than before and feeling on edge.  Trouble sleeping, negative behaviors such as smoking, drinking, abuse of drugs and increase in aggressiveness may also be present.

If these symptoms persist for more than a few months after the initial trauma, it may be PTSD. Treatment for this disorder can be very effective in improving the lives of those who suffer from it. Symptoms may be reduced, less intense, or even disappear. The important think to recognize is that it is something experienced by many people and can be treated so that the quality of life can improve.

Many may not feel ready for treatment or that they have perhaps waited too long to seek treatment. However, not wanting to talk about the trauma can actually be a symptom of PTSD. Treatment can be effective even many years after the initial trauma.

Treatment may include individual counseling, support groups and/or medications. Many insurance plans will cover the treatment; check your policy to see what is covered. Find an experienced provider that you are comfortable with.  Treatment for PTSD can be a life changing experience for the better!


Resources:

Understanding PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Causes

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

apahm

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This includes all the Asian continents and Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island). Beginning as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in 1979, Congress passed a law declaring May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992. There are more than 15 million people of Asian/Pacific Island descent in the United States today.

May was chosen to recall the first immigration of Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1943 and to commemorate the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869, because of the abundance of Chinese workers on the railroad.

The National Archives, Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center are among the institutions that observe Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month with special exhibits. See these websites and a central website, https://asianpacificheritage.gov/about/, for abundant information on the Asian and Pacific Island heritage in the United States.

Resources:

Asian Pacific Heritage Month
Library of Congress Asian-Pacific Heritage
Smithsonian Asian Pacific Heritage
National Archives Asian Pacific Heritage
https://www.nga.gov/ (National Gallery)
www.neh.gov (National Endowment for the Humanities)