Canada’s Experience With Emergency Support Programs Put in Place During the Pandemic May Be the Best Argument Yet for a Guaranteed Minimum Income


By Evelyn Forget

When public health measures put the economy on hiatus in March, Employment Insurance (EI) showed itself to be totally inadequate to the task of ensuring that displaced workers had access to enough money to meet their basic needs. As a consequence, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was quickly put in place.

A simple application process that made use of on-line accounts, coupled with a directive to administrators to wait until peoples’ lives had stabilized before assessing eligibility, ensured that applicants had money in their accounts within days.

After such a smooth ride with the CERB, it was reasonable to expect that the transition off the CERB to other benefits might work equally well. So what happened?

On 26 September, the CERB ended but replacement benefits were not yet in place. Two weeks later, those whose jobs had still not returned were able to apply to replacement programs – a more generous EI and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

In order to ensure that the CRB only went to people who “deserved” it, applicants were required to attest that they are willing and able to work, even though such a claim is unenforceable. Those with caregiving responsibilities turned to the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), while those required to isolate sought out the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Each paid a minimum of $500 per week, but the treatment of earned income and tax obligations differed dramatically.

Those on EI had taxes withheld at source, while those on the CRB were expected to calculate and pay tax on the benefit in April. CRB benefits were not reduced until other income reached $38,000 a year, at which point applicants faced a whopping marginal effective tax rate, while EI benefits were reduced by 50 per cent of earned income from the first dollar.

Application was a bureaucratic nightmare: applicants had to wait for eligibility to be verified, which further delayed payment. Applications were not automatically transferred to the appropriate program; applying to the wrong one meant rejection with no additional information, and an hours-long wait on the telephone.

All of these programs, from the CERB to the CRB, the CRSB, the CRCB and EI, omitted the poorest Canadians – those subsisting well below the poverty line on provincial disability or income assistance. Even though many faced higher costs throughout the pandemic because they were unable to access the charities that supplemented their meager incomes, they had no emergency support. A miserly one-time $600 payment for people with disabilities was still mired in bureaucracy six months after the initial shutdown.

So, how would a Guaranteed Minimum Income help?

A permanent program would be an automatic stabilizer for a volatile economy. If someone loses income, the program would step in to assure they have enough money to meet their basic needs, whether that income loss is due to a society-wide issue like a pandemic or recession, or a personal crisis, like a job loss or a death in the family.

We wouldn’t have to rely on politicians and civil servants to dream up emergency programs to be offered on a one-time basis to meet long-standing gaps in the system. Since there is no need to determine whether someone deserves support or not, there is no need to have three different programs – the CRB, the CRSB and the CRCB – to meet a common need for enough income to survive until an applicant is back on their feet.

Applicants would not be confused about where or how to apply or what their tax obligations may be. A single program, rather than a raft of slightly different programs, means that the bureaucracy involved in adjudicating eligibility would be much simpler and, presumably, faster.

Applicants could report their income from all sources monthly or bimonthly through on-line accounts. Income tax could be withheld at source, so there are no unwelcome surprises in April when income taxes are due. The benefit could be reduced gradually as other income increases so there is no barrier or risk involved in accepting a job offer.

Expanding the program to replace income assistance for people without a sufficient job history would improve their lives and allow everyone to access job training programs.

Most importantly, it would be an automatic stabilizer.

A permanent Guaranteed Minimum Income would be available whenever a calamity like COVID-19 strikes, automatically ramping up to meet needs. It would also automatically contract as the pandemic wanes and jobs return.

When people have other opportunities, research shows they accept jobs and, with a regular wage, they need less support or none at all from a Guaranteed Minimum Income. But the program would be permanent, ensuring financial security whenever the need appears.


About the author:

Evelyn L. Forget is author of Basic Income for Canadians: From the COVID-19 Emergency to Financial Security for All and Professor of Economics in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba.

This post was previously published on and is republished here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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Why Miller High Life is the Classiest Compromise at the Dive Bar

Life is full of trade-offs. Go home early or stay out all night? Aim for quality or max out on quantity? But when it comes to Miller High Life, maybe we can have it all. And by “all,” of course, we mean: A) chugging the so-called champagne of beers while, B) inwardly acknowledging that it’s just a cheap macro lager. So, to recap, if those qualifications work, then yes, we definitely can have it all.

Miller High Life is a beer that overcomes low expectations with elevated carbonation. Introduced by the Miller Brewing Company around New Year’s Eve of 1903, the beverage made its debut into civil society in a stunning clear-glass number, with gold foil wrapped around its gazelle-like neck and plunging shoulders.

With a bottle resembling upper-crust cousin champagne, High Life seemed destined to bring grandeur to the masses. During its first few years on the scene, the product was advertised with an illustration of a woman dressed in a ringmaster’s costume, clutching a whip and tray of High Life beers.

Then something happened in 1907. According to company legend, Miller’s advertising manager A.C. Paul was alone and lost in the Northwoods of Wisconsin when he had a powerful vision: The High Life girl sitting in the crook of a crescent moon.

Like a bubbly burst of whatever Paul was drinking—probably High Life—a phenomenon was born. Miller’s Girl in the Moon soon became one of the most recognizable advertising mascots of all time.

The Miller High Life ‘Girl in the Moon’ icon of the Miller Brewery complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nina Alizada / Shutterstock

For about 60 years, High Life remained the brewery’s flagship beer. During that time, it was priced similar to other premium macros like Budweiser. But after losing market share for years to competitors and newer Miller brands, High Life was taken down a notch. In 1993, it became a value brand that associated with the likes of Busch and PBR.

Vanquished like a social outcast, High Life became the beer of bristly old men, who drove trucks and lamented about the good ol’ days when honest beers were treated like sparkling wine and no one knew what the hell an International Bittering Unit was.

Then the roaring 2000s arrived, and High Life went ironically retro. Eventually, urban dive bars were serving what some call the Low Life special: A High Life with a shot of well whiskey. Slide on down, cans of budget brew, and make space for clear sparkling bottles. The champagne of beers was back, just in time to class things up.

The persistent qualities of High Life are no surprise to some. In 2017, New Jersey’s oldest resident at the time sadly passed away. Agnes Felton had become famous during her final decades, partly for crediting the secret of her longevity to drinking a few bottles of Miller High Life with some Johnnie Walker Blue Label every day.

Fenton lived a remarkable life, being one of the first Black women to own a restaurant in Tennessee. In 1943, after she recovered from a benign tumor, it was her doctor who recommended a daily dosing of the champagne of beers. (History doesn’t record if her doctor discovered this Long Life special in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, but it seems reasonable.)

Possibly in homage to Fenton, and certainly to modern dive bar patrons, a few years ago Miller revived its 1970s High Life slogan: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.”

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Immunonutrition may improve COVID-19 patients’ recovery

Researchers duo Emma Derbyshire and Joanne Delange from the Nutritional Insight, Surrey, United Kingdom, explore the role of immunonutrition – nutrition that boosts or influences the immune system for those over 65 years of age in COVID-19. Their study titled, “COVID-19: is there a role for immunonutrition, particularly in the over 65s?,” was released in the latest issue of the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), since its emergence in late December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, has infected over 60 million people worldwide, with over 1.43 million succumbing to severe COVID-19 disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic on the 11th of March this year, and since then, the pandemic remains one of the most significant public health problems in recent human memory.

Public health strategies to prevent the spread of this highly infective virus include social distancing, prevention of gatherings, wearing masks, and hand hygiene. The focus has not been on the immune system and foods that could help boost the immune system, write the researchers.

This review attempted to gather the present evidence in favor of immune-nutrition or nutrition and diet that helps boost the immune system, especially among the elderly who are more susceptible to the SARS CoV-2 infection and its complications.

The researchers call immunonutrition a form of prevention of disease or “prehabilitation,” which could help the “body to cope with potentially lethal viruses such as coronavirus.”


The researchers explain that the definition of prehabilitation in scientific literature says these are “interventions that can help improve patient’s health in advanced of being exposed to a physiological stressor, so they are then better able to cope with that stress.”

Nutrition and disease

The researchers say that there is ample evidence that poor nutrition, protein-energy malnutrition as well as deficiencies of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are part of “related lifestyle factors” which can contribute to a suboptimally functioning immune system.

Certain components of the diet, including fruit, vitamin C, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, are termed as immunonutrition that could help boost immunity and have a possible role in “resisting respiratory viruses and diseases,” write the researchers.

SARS CoV-2 and immune system

The COVID-19 pandemic raging around the world is caused by the SARS-CoV-2, which is part of the coronavirus family. At present, there are no safe and effective treatments against this virus nor vaccines to prevent infection. SARS-CoV-2, in some vulnerable individuals, especially the elderly, may lead to atypical viral pneumonia. Some may even need oxygen or artificial ventilation and ICU care. Elderly with other health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc., may have a greater risk of developing complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), leading to multiple organ failure and even deaths.

The immune system has four components – T cells, B cells, the complement system, and phagocytes. There are two arms of the immune system – innate and adaptive immunity. These protect the body against infections. A healthy diet and nutrition boost the immune system.

The team writes that Professor Philip Calder, an expert on immune nutrition, says in his paper, “Feeding the Immune System,” that the immune system functions by acting as a barrier against incoming infections.

Age and immune system

With age, the immune function declines. This is called ‘immunosenescence.’ Both innate and acquired immune systems decline with age. The reasons for this decline include:

  • Reducing functions of the T cells due to involution of the thymus gland and also reduced production of new naïve T cells
  • “Inflammaging” or inflammation associated with aging processes
  • Poor nutritional status associated with age. There is typically micronutrient deficiencies seen in the elderly
  • Menopause and andropause can also contribute to nutritional deficiencies

Immunonutrition and COVID-19

Some of the main findings from the scientific literature search by the researchers were:

  • A healthy immune system requires vitamins A, D, C, E, B6, B12, folate, copper, iron, zinc, and selenium. There is an interplay of these nutrients in a healthy immune system
  • Immunonutrients of considerable importance are vitamin C, D, and zinc.
  • Vitamin C helps in the development of the epithelial barrier functions of the respiratory system that prevents invasion by pathogens. It can help prevent pneumonia.
  • Vitamin D is a powerful immunoregulator. B and T lymphocytes, macrophages, and monocytes are some of the immune cells that have vitamin D receptors on their surface. Vitamin D has a protective role in respiratory infections
  • Authors write, “Zinc is regarded as a ‘gatekeeper’ of immune function.”


The researchers wrote, “The general public and indeed the aging population should be encouraged to follow guidance from Public Health England and continue taking supplements containing 10 μg of vitamin D daily…”. They recommend foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli (60 mg/100 g), blackcurrants (130 mg/100 g), fortified breakfast cereals (up to 134 mg/100 g) and oranges (37–52 mg/100 g). They recommend foods rich in natural zinc such as “canned crab (5.7 mg/100 g), canned shrimps (3.7 mg/100 g), canned adzuki beans (≈2.3 mg/100 g) and boiled eggs (1.3 mg/100 g)”. The recommendations are for vitamin D supplementation with an upper limit of 50 µg/day and an upper limit of daily zinc at 25 mg/day.

Future directions

There is a dearth of studies that examine the effects of immune nutrients on “vulnerable groups such as those aged >65, with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and heart disease, or who are immunosuppressed”.

The research duo feels that public health strategies should also focus on immunonutrition as a form of prehabilitation to prevent the spread of the infection, boost recoveries and reduce the burden on the healthcare systems due to an increase in hospital admissions.

Journal reference:

  • Derbyshire E, Delange JCOVID-19: is there a role for immunonutrition, particularly in the over 65s? BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2020;3, doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000071,

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8 Unique Gift Ideas for People With Anxiety


Do you want to find something meaningful, fun, or personal for someone you know that has a hard time with an anxiety disorder or that gets very stressed? The following gift ideas for people with anxiety are interesting and different than the norm. As someone who has experienced anxiety on a high level for most of my life, I wanted to put together the ultimate list of things that I would like to receive myself, when I’m feeling highly anxious or stressed. Most of these gift ideas for people with anxiety are found on Amazon at great prices too!

So, Christmas, birthdays or any other occasion, these items make great gifts!

1. The Rustic Good News Mindfulness Jar

This Jar is something very unique. The ‘mindfulness Jar is packed with a month’s worth of heart warning feel good news stories. The angle of the jar is to pick you up. With so many bad and negative news stories (the stuff that gets air time) it’s easy for us to constantly feel like we need to live in fear and go into ourselves.

This jar mindfully gives us one positive news story everyday for 30 days. This gift idea for someone with anxiety makes a great present because there’s not too much else like it. It could also help you get out of a rut of negativity when you’re pulling out a good news story each day.

This jar would work magic if you stopped watching the news for a month and just read each and every story from the jar instead.

2. The Mindfulness Jar

Here’s another jar… I don’t know what it is about these rustic mindfulness jars but I just love the way they look! This jar is similar to the jar we mentioned above but it’s main function is to teach you mindful practises over 31 days.

The idea is to use each mindfulness practise one day at a time so that you can build up the habit of mindfulness in a no pressure way that will help to develop this way of thinking and behaving. This jar is a great idea because not only does it look great but it uses the idea that forming new habits takes about 30 days.

The mindfulness exercises are folded up in with unique designs that open your mind up to a new way of thinking everyday for a month. If you want to give a loved one the gift of learning mindfulness in an easy to manage way, this jar is perfect. Did I mention it also looks awesome?!

3. Stress Less Cards

Another neat thing I found is stress less cards. These cards are already recommended by health care professionals for people who deal with anxiety and stress on an everyday basis. They look great and they also work well.

There are 50 cards in this pack. Each card has a different exercise to follow containing mindfulness, meditations and stress relieving techniques.

I like these cards because you can carry them with you anywhere. When you’re feeling stressed of anxious you can shuffle your deck and pull out a card to follow the exercise.

A simple idea yet an effective one.

4. Smiles In A Jar

Smiles in a jar is exactly that. Smiles. This jar is packed full of brightly coloring cards which have moving, motivational, humorous, and loving messages on them. This gift idea is great for those who are anxious or stressed because it provides a little pick me up.

This jar is also a cool idea if you’re struggling to find a cost-effective but meaningful gift for someone’s birthday of secret Santa present.

It works wll for dad, mum, a brother, sister or a grandparent or anyone really..

Although it’s not marketed at the anxious or stressed, you can’t help but feel calmer when you have a loving message every day of the month.

5. I Am Here Now

I Am Here Now is a super unique idea. It’s basically a book of mindfulness exercises that’s useful for beginners and also mindfulness veterans. What makes it so different from anything else on the market is it’s creative approach.

Instead of just learning about Mindfulness, the guide book gets you stuck in with proactive activities. Like all good mindfulness guides, the book is designed to open your mind creatively, bring awareness to you sense and understand your thoughts and emotions with it’s thought provoking words.

It’s created by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. The guide gets you to do lots of activities to start thinking mindfully like drawing around your hand, and placing both hands on the book to connect with the rhythm of your pulse.

The interesting and unique illustrations of emotions and situations in your life make this a very special present. You can also use the journal pages in between activities to jot down you thoughts.

With some very positive reviews on Amazon, this one’s probably my personal favorite on the list of gift ideas for people with anxiety.

6. How To Stop Worrying And Start Living

Another book that makes a great gift for someone with anxiety is Dale Carnegie’s How To Stop Worrying And Start Living. It’s probably the most talked about book when it comes to how to stop worrying. And for good reason – Dale’s book is straightforward and easy to read. It provides practical techniques that you can use to break the habit of worrying, before it breaks you.

The book is a full of real life examples about people, some famous, some not, who have learnt how to handle worrying and fear. The stories flows into each other beautifully and are highly relatable. The book covers all aspects of what the modern person worries about, money, relationships, work, etc and provides actionable exercises to stop worrying. If there is an ultimate book on learning how to stop worrying, it’s this one, which makes it a highly useful gift if the recipient is experiencing anxiety.

7. The Worry Plaque

The next item on the list is something very unique and interesting. This is the worry plaque, which can be mounted on your wall. This gift for someone with anxiety is just a bit of fun, but it’s sure to bring a smile to someone’s face. The idea is to place your hand in the print. By doing so, the green light turns red, which means you have successfully passed your worry into the ‘worry fairies’. Everytime you’re feeling very worried about something, place your hand in the print and imagine your worry being passed into the plaque, freeing you from it.

If you want to give something truly unique as a gift, this is the one for you! There is also access to video content where you can stream positive affirmation on the companies website.

8. Weighted Blankets

There’s something incredibly relaxing about weighted blankets. They make great gift for guys with anxiety or girls experiencing anxiety. Until I tried one myself, I thought they sounded a bit suffocating, however, I was completely wrong. Instead, there is something calming about having the lightly weighted blanket over you. It feels as if you are being cradled in your bed, being put into a deeply calm state. This is slightly more expensive than the other gift ideas for people with anxiety, but it’s a great investment and a highly practical gift idea.

This post was previously published on


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Hint, All Problems Are People-ProblemsTalking About Men’s Health™

No one has to tell you that we face a host of problems in the world today, everything from the global Coronavirus pandemic to global warming; increasing anxiety and depression to a collapsing economy; racism and police violence to divorce and domestic violence. Think of any problem that needs to be solved and you’ll find people-problems.

In an article titled, “Our current view of the world’s most pressing problems,” researchers at the University of Oxford’s Global Priorities Institute, The Open Philanthropy Project, and 80,, offer these top priorities.

  • Positively shaping development of artificial intelligence.
  • Building effective altruism.
  • Reducing global catastrophic biological risks.
  • Nuclear security.
  • Improving institutional decision-making.
  • Addressing extreme risks of climate change.

We have the technical expertise to solve most all the problems we face. The problems are really people problems. How can people work together in their own best-interests? Here is my modest proposal to get us started.

  1. Know thyself.

We can’t solve problems whether it’s a problem in our marriage, a problem in our psyche or a problem in the world if we don’t know ourselves. Trying to solve a problem without knowing ourselves is like planning a trip from here to there, without knowing where you are to start. How can I plot a course from here to there if I don’t know where I am. Since getting to know ourselves is a lifelong (and maybe multiple lives) process, we will become better and solving problems as we get better knowing ourselves.

  1. Accept that there is no I.

We tend to think of ourselves as a separate beings. We imagine there is a separate person we call me, myself, or I. But the truth is we don’t exist, except in relationship with other selves. Even alone on a desert island, there would still be multiple relationships. We all exist within a rich net of other people and other parts of ourselves. I am my parents and the little six-year-old boy who was terrified of being abandoned. It’s an illusion that there is a separate I in the world.

  1. Know whether we are seeing the others we relate to as thou or it?

The philosopher Martin Buber describes two kinds of human relationships. I-It and I-Thou. In relation to nature, ourselves and God, I-It sees us as separate. Others are to be used for our benefit. I-Thou sees us as involved in a sacred relationship of communion. Others are to be respected and cherished. As Buber says, “Love is the responsibility of an I for a Thou.”

  1. Recognize that our human roots are in partnership, but we have been living in domination.

For more than 99% of our human history we lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers, but for the last 6,000 to 10,000 years we have lived within a dominator culture we euphemistically refer to as “civilization.” Hunter-gatherers lived in an I-Thou relationship to their whole world. “Native Americans,” writes Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, “addressed all of life as a ‘thou’—the trees, the stones, everything. He goes on to suggest to us, “You can address anything as a ‘thou,’ and if you do, you can feel the change in your own psychology. The ego that sees a ‘thou’ is not the same ego that sees an ‘it.’”

  1. Solving people-problems is like playing jazz together.

I’ve been a therapist for more than 50 years now. When I started out, I knew very little about myself or others. I was a like a beginning music student playing “twinkle-twinkle little star” and getting the prescribed response from a client, “how I wonder where you are.” For years now, I feel more like a jazz musician playing intricate riffs that come to me intuitively. At the beginning, a session felt like walking across a bridge over a stream–very safe, very predictable, and very distant from the waters of life. In recent years I skip across the river jumping from stone to stone, never knowing where to jump next until I intuitively make the leap.

  1. Not all therapists are healers.

I still remember being a graduate student and learning from senior therapists. My student placement was at a mental hospital and we watched a psychiatrist working with a patient through a one-way mirror. We were supposed to be seeing a master at work and the expert seemed very adept at guiding each session. On one occasion the patient reached out to shake the therapist’s hand, but the therapist didn’t reach back and simply said, “I’ll see you next week.”

When we questioned the therapist about what seemed to us an unnecessarily cold response, we were told that his job was to be a blank screen on which the patient would work out their childhood issues. I thought then, and still think, that I had a good demonstration of an I-It therapist that was not a true healer.

  1. Both partners must have skin in the game. 

Most therapists, like most people, keep their own personal issues private and separate. That’s good, to a degree. We don’t want to use the therapeutic session to work out our own problems. We need to do that in our own therapy sessions. But, even more than most, I’ve found therapists deny their own relationship problems. I know that was true for me. I had been a marriage and family counselor for many years even though I had gone through two marriages and divorces. I felt like a fraud. How could I really be helpful to others, if I couldn’t get my own relationship life together? I finally, reached out for help and spent years in therapy and more years really delving deeply into how to have a great marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have been married now for more than 40 years.

Now, I have skin in the game in all my sessions. I recognize that both my clients, and myself, have something at risk. All relationships grow and change, and we must all grow and change with them. Though I focus on my clients, I know that we’re both learning how to love deeply and well.

  1. Those who are committed to solving people-problems must have soul in the game.

Having skin in the game means we must be willing to put something at risk. Therapists, like most people, want to stay safe and secure and still get the benefits of having a loving and passionate relationship. But like the trapeze artist, we must let go of one bar and risk falling, if we are going to reach for and grasp the bar that is waiting for us. No risk, no reward.

Those who do people work for many years, are doing this as our life work. For me, this is not a job, or even a career. It is my life’s calling. Doing it effectively, means engaging relationships with my heart and soul.

Beginning in September, I will train, certify, and mentor 25 people-problem solvers who feel drawn to this work as their soul called. If you’re interested in learning more, check it out here. I look forward to meeting you.

This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.

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Blast Your Arms With These 5 Isolated Tricep Workouts

Biceps get a lot of attention, but you can’t grow your arms without giving some love to those triceps. After all, the tris are the larger muscle group of the two. But if you truly want to bulk up those triceps, it’s going to take more than a few dips or extensions.

To help you get the horseshoe triceps of your dreams, we rounded up five tricep workouts from top fitness enthusiasts on Instagram. These muscle-building isolation exercises will target your triceps and give you a diverse range of moves that you can incorporate into your next workout.

Triceps Trifecta

Six Dip Variations

Triceps powered by Dumbbells

Triceps Symmetry Workout

Tried and True Tricep Workouts

Bonus: The Do’s and Don’ts of Dips

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Early high-titer convalescent plasma prevents 75% of severe COVID-19 in elderly

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 1.39 million deaths worldwide. Many of these deaths have occurred among the elderly, experiencing disproportionate rates of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, especially if they have chronic underlying diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease.

A promising new clinical study published on the preprint server medRxiv* reports that if convalescent plasma with a high titer of antibodies is given early in the course of COVID-19 in elderly patients, the risk of severe illness is reduced by 73%. This could promote the use of this safe, cost-effective prophylactic intervention to prevent hospital overwhelm and save lives in multiple ways.

Few effective drugs have been approved so far against COVID-19. Among those therapies which show some promise is the use of convalescent plasma (CP), which makes use of serum obtained from the blood of individuals who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection, typically in a mild form, and have recovered. Their blood is therefore deemed to be rich in antibodies specifically targeting the virus, preventing its entry into and infection of host cells.

CP has been used earlier to treat a number of diseases, but much depends on the timing of administration and the titer of specific antibodies. Several earlier studies have failed to show convincing evidence of clinical benefit in COVID-19 patients.

Several early studies cast doubt on the role of convalescent plasma (CP) in COVID-19. However, this could well have been due to the late administration of this modality. The current study aimed at testing the ability of CP to prevent the progression of COVID-19 to severe disease if given in the first 72 hours after the onset of symptoms.

The researchers conducted a randomized double-blinded controlled trial between June 4 and October 25, 2020, using CP with a high titer of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in elderly patients within this period after the development of mild symptoms. Their objective was to assess the reduction in severe respiratory disease, as defined by a respiratory rate ≥30 or an oxygen saturation below 93% in room air.

While the original intention was to study 210 patients, there was a steep climb in the number of severe cases in late July, which drained both doctors and hospital capacity from the trial. Coupled with a dramatic fall in the number of patients available for screening towards the latter part of the study, this meant that the original target would have been challenging to meet without unduly prolonging the study period. Thus, the study was prematurely terminated to analyze the data obtained so far.

The study group eventually included 160 patients, all 75 years old or more, or between 65 and 74 years but with one or more comorbid conditions. The mean age was 77 years, and ~63% were female.

All had one symptom at least from each of two categories, for at least 48 hours, when tested for the virus by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR).

The first category included nonspecific symptoms like fever, sweating and chills, while the second included more suspicious symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, dry cough, sore throat, alterations of taste or smell, and muscle pain. None of the patients had pre-existing severe respiratory disease.

Once diagnosed, the patients were hospitalized and randomly assigned to receive CP with anti-SARS-CoV-2 spike IgG titers of over 1:1,000 or placebo over 1.5 to 2 hours. Thus, 80 received plasma and 80 a placebo. The minimum clinically significant reduction in risk of severe respiratory distress was set at 40%, which meant that the expected risk of 50% in the control group would have to be reduced to 30% in the intervention group for the CP infusion to be seen as effective.

The researchers found that only ~16% of the plasma recipient group had progressive disease vs. ~31% of the placebo group. Thus, the early use of CP reduced the risk by 48%. The time to development of severe disease in the CP group was delayed relative to the control group. In the age group above 75 years, the relative risk was reduced by 65%.

However, when 6 of the participants who developed severe respiratory distress after being randomized but before receiving the CP were excluded from the analysis, the reduction of the risk of severe outcomes in the remaining members of the group was even higher, at 60%, confirming the efficacy of this intervention.

The investigators also found a dose-dependent response to the CP, with the dividing line being at 1:3,200 (the median IgG titer). If the CP that was used contained IgG at high doses above this titer, it produced better responses, reducing the risk of severe outcomes by 73%. For every one patient who recovered without developing severe disease, four patients would have to be infused.

The scientists suggest that fostering local donations from a community drive, and selecting super-donors with IgG titers above 1:12,800, could help each donor to provide CP for over 20 sick patients, each with just 750 mL of donated blood. Repeated donations could be made since IgG levels have been shown to remain high for months. Most of the high-titer CP donors in this study had a history of COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization.

The researchers comment, “Enhancing early symptom awareness in seniors will be vital, now that there is a time-limited effective intervention available. Plasma against COVID-19 is conceptually like health insurance. It should be in-hand when it intuitively seems unnecessary.”

This intervention is simple and cheap, but can be life-saving in the majority of high-risk cases. This would reduce mortality due to COVID-19 while simultaneously preventing healthcare overwhelm, allowing some measure of control until other effective drugs or a vaccine becomes widely available.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

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Balance and Gait Challenges Following a Traumatic Brain Injury (Tbi)


by James A. Heuer, PA

Between 30% to 65% of people suffer from dizziness and lack of balance, or disequilibrium, following a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Balance is the ability to keep your body centered over your feet. One’s physical strength, cognitive ability, and coordination all play a role in balance.

Following a TBI, many people also experience difficulties with gait, which is defined as a person’s manner of walking. A common symptom, vertigo, makes you feel like your surroundings are moving, which can result in an imbalance in a person’s gait.

Many factors help gauge the impact a TBI has on a person’s balance, including where the actual injury occurred within the brain, how serious the injury was, and any other additional injuries. Medications used to manage pain can also cause balance problems due to the common side effects of dizziness and lightheadedness.

Eyesight is often a cause of poor balance and, in the case of TBIs, serious accidents can result in injuries to the eyes with resulting double vision, partial loss of vision, depth-perception problems, and/or convergence insufficiency, which is when your eyes don’t work together. In addition to ocular injuries, vestibular (inner ear) impairments can also have a great impact following a TBI. The vestibular system is the sensory system that provides the leading influence to the sense of balance and spatial direction when coordinating movement with balance.

The vestibular system is made up of tiny organs and semicircular canals inside the inner ear. The canals contain fluid and fine hair-like sensors that monitor your head’s rotations. When the head moves, particles of calcium carbonate, called otoliths, pull on the hair cells, stimulating the vestibular nerve, which signals the position of the head with respect to the rest of the body. The particles, or crystals, are sensitive to gravity and linear movement. Any damage to the vestibular system from a TBI will affect your balance and gait.

After the common causes of balance impairment are initially ruled out, an array of different medical providers can assist in the diagnosis and treatment such as physiatrists, neurologists, and otolaryngologists, aka ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists. Two tests that are commonly used to identify balance difficulties are the Berg Balance Scale and the Dynamic Gait Index. Both exams will be used to test and keep track of the progress made in the process of regaining balance and gait.

There are multiple methods you can try to improve your balance on your own and/or under the direction of a physical therapist. You can practice walking in different conditions and different inclines, on various structures, such as grass, wood, and asphalt. Challenging yourself to walk longer distances and in different venues such as parks or shopping malls can help.

Every case is individual and each person’s recovery is unique. Research shows that three months is the common timeframe in which people with a TBI can walk on their own, but progress and improvements can continue for years. Individual pre-existing impairments can add a significant time extension to the recovery and the degree of success in regaining one’s balance and gait. The key is to remember every improvement, as small as it may seem, is progress.

James A. Heuer, PA is a personal injury attorney helping individuals with TBI after suffering one himself. He is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This post was previously published on


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What A Man Must Do to Save His MarriageTalking About Men’s Health™

Old stereotypes would have us believe that women are more focused on relationships than men, but I have found that is not true, though men and women do see marriage through different lenses. A loving, intimate, and joyful marriage is just as important to men as it is to women. It is also just as painful and heart-breaking for men when a marriage ends. I know, I have been a marriage counselor for more than fifty years specializing in helping men and the women who love them.

If you’re reading this you may also be interested my companion article, “The 5 Stages of Love and Why Most Relationships Hit the Wall at Stage 3: What A Woman Must Do to Save Her Marriage.”

Before I tell you about the five stages of love, I need to tell you about the different lens through which men and women see themselves, each other, and the world. But before I do that, I need to say something about “generalizations.” When I say that men are taller than women, most people will recognize I am not saying that all men are taller than all women. As a man who is five feet, 5 inches tall, I am very aware of this fact. So, please remember this when I talk about men and women. 

I also need to say that sex differences have often been used to denigrate or limit one gender, usually the female. This need not be the case. There is good science and research that recognizes sex differences without putting one sex above or below the other or suggesting that women are unsuited for certain roles, such as soldier, professional baseball player, or President; or that a man should not be a nursery school teacher, nurse, or First Gentleman.

I wrote a book, 12 Rules for Good Men along with “The Good Men Manifesto” about men, who we are, and what we need, so I’ll just touch on a few important differences here that are particularly important in helping a man understand the five stages of love, why most relationships end at stage 3, and what a man must do to save his troubled marriage.

Louann Brizendine, M.D., is an American scientist, a neuropsychiatrist who is both a researcher and a clinician and professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She’s written two books, The Male Brain and The Female Brain, and notes significant differences including the following:

  • Medial Preoptic Area. This is the area of sexual pursuit and is 2.5 times larger in the male brain.
  • Amygdala. The alarm system for threats, fears, and danger and larger in the male brain.
  • Mirror-neuron system. The “I feel what you feel” emotional empathy system. Gets in sync with others’ emotions by reading facial expressions and interpreting tone of voice and other nonverbal emotional cues. It is smaller and less active in the male brain.
  • Anterior cingulate cortex. It’s the worry-wart center, fear-of-punishment area and center of sexual performance anxiety. It is larger in the female brain.
  • Hippocampus. The elephant that never forgets a fight, a romantic encounter, or a mistake, no matter how old it is—and won’t let you forget it either. It is larger and more active in the female brain.

Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor psychology and psychiatry at Cambridge University has gone a number of research studies on brain differences. In the first lines of his book, The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male & Female Brain, he says simply: “The subject of essential sex differences in the mind is clearly very delicate. I could tiptoe around it, but my guess is that you would like the theory of the book stated plainly. So here it is:

“The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.”

The 5 Stages of Love and Why Most Relationships End at Stage 3

In my book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come, I describe the following stages:

  1. Falling in Love.
  2. Becoming a Couple.
  3. Disillusionment.
  4. Creating Real, Lasting Love.
  5. Finding Your Calling as a Couple.

Like many people I thought there were only two stages to have a great relationship. First, the magic moment where we meet that special someone and fall in love. Second, we become a couple and live happily ever after. Also, like many whose marriage hit the rocks and disillusionment overcame us, I got divorced, became depressed, decided I had chosen the wrong partner, and eventually tried again.

Unfortunately, like many, I didn’t yet understand the five stages of love and my second marriage also ended in divorce. But, I finally got wise, I mean wise in truly understanding the hidden truths about sex, love, relationships, and marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have now been married for 40 years and the key is understanding the five stages.

In my article “The 5 Stages of Love: Why Too Many Stop at Stage 3,” I highlight important points in the book. Here, I’ll expand on some subtle, yet critically important distinctions that most people fail to grasp.

  • Falling in love is a trick to deceive us.

When we fall in love, we think we’ve found our dream lover, the one we’ve been looking for all our lives, the one we can build a life with and who will make us happy. The truth is falling in love is nature’s trick to get humans to pick a mate so that our species carries on. It feels so wonderful because we are awash in hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. Evolution has no interest in making us happy, just getting us to pass on our genes.

  • Initially we build a life together on a false foundation.

Once we have found the right partner we imagine we will have the regular ups and downs of living, but that we can relax now and focus on career, kids, making a living, and making a life together. We think we are creating real, lasting, love so it’s easy to take our partner for granted. Instead, we are setting ourselves up for disillusionment.

  • Disillusionment is not a sign that something is wrong. It is a wake-up call to the true hero’s journey of our lives.

Most people who are together for more than a few years will become disillusioned. “Is this all there is,” we wonder. “This isn’t the person I married. What happened? Where did they go?” We blame our partner, or we try harder to fix ourselves. What we rarely do is understand that disillusionment is the third, and most crucial, stage of love. For those who have the courage, who are true love warriors, you are called to the biggest challenge of your life.

What a Man Must Do to Save His Marriage

  1. Having a successful marriage is your most important job in life.

Like most men, I grew up believing that my main job in life was to support my wife and family by becoming a successful breadwinner. I figured it was my wife’s job to support us by taking good care of me and our kids. But we live in a new world now. Men and women have changed. The world has changed. Having been through two divorces myself and counseled thousands, I’ve come to realize that men have the skills to make relationships work. We just have to learn them.

Modern marriage is a complex system and men’s brains are hard-wired to understand and build systems. We just have to take the job on, learn the skills, and apply them.

  1. You must stop putting so much attention on trying to please your woman.

I know, most men are accused of being selfish, of putting too little attention on pleasing their wives. Not true. Men are obsessed with pleasing their woman, but feel like failures. “It seems that no matter what I do, it doesn’t work,” guys will tell me. “After trying and trying I finally give up.” It’s not your job to please her! (Say it again until it sinks in).

  1. You must stop blaming her for your inability to make her happy.

There were many reasons my first two marriages didn’t work out. I didn’t understand the five stages, but I also blamed my wives. On the surface, I blamed them because they weren’t giving me enough sex, love, and kindness. Really, I was blaming them because I could not make them happy. As a child, I was obsessed with pleasing my mother because I was afraid if I didn’t she would abandon me. Although I seemed to be a successful independent man, deep inside I felt I needed my wife to validate me so I could feel like a real man. If I could not make her happy I felt like a failure and it made me mad as hell.

I had to learn that she is quite capable of making herself happy. She’s the only one who can. You’re not to blame for her unhappiness. The world is not a very happy place these days and it’s not your fault.

  1. You must find your manhood in the company of other men. 

My father was an angry man who became increasingly depressed when he couldn’t make a living to support his family. He eventually had “a nervous breakdown,” was hospitalized and left. I was raised by my mother. “A father may be physically present, but absent in spirit,” says author James Hollis. “His absence may be literal through death, divorce or dysfunction, but more often it is a symbolic absence through silence and the inability to transmit what he also may not have acquired.”

Without a presence of a loving, engaged, caring father, men grow up “with a hole in their soul in the shape of their dad,” says Roland Warren, former President of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

My wife, Carlin, and I have been married now for 40 years. She attributes the success of our marriage, in large part, due to my 41-year participation in a men’s group. The poet Robert Bly said that “Young men must be in the presence of older men in order to hear the sound that male cells sing.” Whether we had an engaged father or not, we can heal the father wound and fill the hole in our collective souls by being part of a men’s group. It’s not surprising that the first rule in 12 Rules for Good Men is to join a men’s group.

Men can’t be fully alive to themselves, to the women they love, to their families and friends, unless they understand and embrace their maleness. 

I hope you find these ideas helpful. You can read more of my work here.

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.

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The Best Black Friday Fitness Deals for 2020

The fitness industry tends to save its best deals for December and January, when people are really starting to lean into the whole “new year, new you” idea—and need the tools to do it. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered gyms across the country and people remain (rightfully) wary of breaking a sweat in shared spaces, it’s become damn-near impossible for brands to keep their best at-home gear and equipment (think dumbbells and cardio machines) on their virtual shelves. As such, Black Friday 2020 will be predominantly online to avoid crowds in stores.

With people settling in for a long winter—and the majority of them still holding back on re-upping their gym memberships—fitness companies are stocked up and getting a jump on the season’s holiday sales to help everyone stay on top of their fitness goals. From splurge-worthy equipment to high-tech wearables, recovery gear to the best performance apparel, here’s everything you can score at a steal for Black Friday 2020.


The Best Black Friday Fitness Deals for 2020


Been pining for a WHOOP Strap 3.0? The wearable provides a greater look at your holistic health and fitness by establishing a recovery score—factored by your daily workout strain, stress, sleep, and heart rate variability—so you can train smarter. The company’s offering 25 percent off its annual membership (12 months). The deal runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. []

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Nurvv Run Insoles

Nurvv’s smart insoles are $100 off at BestBuy and Amazon, or 30 percent off at NURVV between November 25 and 30. What makes these so unique are the 32 sensors that track metrics like step length, footstrike, and vertical oscillation while you perform certain running drills; they also sync with your headphones to provide personalized cues (like “shorten your stride” or “increase your cadence”) to help you run more efficiently. []

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Beats By Dre Totally Wireless Earphones

Save $90 on a pair of headphones that can stand up to the toughest workouts. These sweat-resistant wireless buds hook over the top of your ears for greater comfort and stability. Each one has volume and track controls, but the internal sensors can detect when you put them in your ear so the music kicks in as soon as you’re ready to go. And with nine hours of listening time, you could run a marathon, and then some. [$159.99,]

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Apple Watch Series 6

Target is offering $50 off the latest iteration of the Apple Watch. In addition to sleep tracking capabilities, new features let you measure blood oxygen levels and take an ECG from your wrist to track important health markers that may clue you in to whether you’re getting sick or not. And it’ll make sticking to your New Year’s fitness goals even easier when Apple Fitness+ debuts at the end of the year. [$349.99,]

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SoulCycle Bike

You may not be heading back into the spin studio anytime soon, but you can bring that experience home with the brand’s Soul for the Holidays offer (available until 11/30). This package includes the SoulCycle at-home bike, SoulCycle Basics bundle (which includes a bike mat, a SoulCycle x Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Pop Candle, and one set of two-, three-, or five-pound dumbbells), and a Theragun Elite by Therabody, totaling over $500 in savings. [$2,500,]

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NordicTrack RW200 Rower

Get a low-impact, total-body cardio workout at home for $500 less than normal. The NordicTrack RW200 Rower has 24 levels of resistance to help you level-up with the machine’s built-in workouts (there are also thousands of interactive, trainer-led workouts that come with the free, 30-day iFit membership, included with this deal; otherwise it’s $15 a month). When you’re not using the machine, just fold it up for easy stowing. [$799.99,]

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Get 30 percent off sitewide through November 30 when shopping for performance lifestyle items from Rhone. You’ll find everything from weather-proof winter jackets and vests to super cozy joggers and technical twill pants for when you make it back to the office. It’s never a bad idea to stock up on elevated basics like jersey tees and quilted pullovers, too. []

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Spryng Deep Tissue Bundle

Give your leg muscles some relief with the SPRYNG Deep Tissue Bundle, which is on sale at over 40 percent off for the holidays. The SPRYNG compression calf wraps are designed to reduce recovery time and improve overall performance, while the KNUCKLES Power-Up inner layer delivers localized compression that helps warm up your muscles pre-workout or recover better post-workout. [$199.99,]

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Running apparel company Janji launches its only sitewide sale of the year on Black Friday, offering 20 percent of literally everything—including the latest gear, inspired by South Africa and winter weather essentials made from a new high-performance knit. On Cyber Monday, you can score 50 percent off gear from past collections. And in both cases, if you’re a member of Janji Collective, you get an additional 15 percent off. []

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Fitbit’s Black Friday deals start on November 22, and include $50 off the new Fitbit Sense, which debuted in September. This wearable’s electrocardiogram function is FDA-approved, and comes with new tools for stress management, blood oxygen tracking, skin temperature measurements, and more. The Fitbit Charge 4 is also $50 off, the Fitbit Versa 3 and Fitbit Inspire 2 are $30 off, and the Fitbit Ace 2 is $20 off. []

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Bowflex SelectTech 1090 Adjustable Dumbbells

The rush for at-home workout equipment in 2020 led to a major spike in the cost of weights, but you can get a set of Bowflex’s adjustable dumbbells—the resistance of which can be changed from 10 to 90 pounds in five-pound increments with just the turn of a dial—for almost $1,500 off at Walmart right now. [$1,160.99,]

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Academy Sports + Outdoors

This sporting goods and outdoor store has a number of Black Friday deals covering some of the most popular fitness and performance brands: You can get up to 40 percent off Adidas apparel; up to 30 percent off Costa, Oakley, and Ray-Ban sunglasses; and running shoes from brands including Adidas, Brooks, New Balance, and Asics; up to 25 percent off select styles from Under Armour and Nike; plus, up to 50 percent off fitness gear and accessories. []

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