Health News


(NEW YORK) -- For Meredith Minister, this was supposed to be a summer of living it up and dancing away fears of late-stage metastatic cancer.

"I am in a place with cancer where I am just trying to make decisions to live my life as long as it lasts, and not trying to lengthen my life by decreasing its quality," said Minister, 36, a religious studies professor and amateur dance enthusiast, who is no longer receiving treatment for her disease.

"The way that I could exchange energy with other people on the dance floor -- those are not things that you can approximate virtually," she said.

Many of the 15 million Americans living with cancer are coming to terms with a pandemic that has upended support systems and coping mechanisms, facing difficult choices about how to live fully in the era of social distance.

For some, deferred care and missed diagnoses during the nationwide public health lockdowns have also added up to precious lost time and deep anxiety over the future.

That's on top of worry about the coronavirus itself.

"I'm obsessed with thinking about the coronavirus. I'm obsessed with, 'Am I going to get it? Is my family exposed? Are we doing things that stay safe?'" said Kacie Peters, 33, of Denver, who was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer earlier this year and recently completed chemotherapy.

"It's frustrating that a lot of folks are jogging and strolling without masks. There are plenty with them. But, it's a really weird feeling that people are dangerous," she said of her community as it begins to reopen.

Cancer patients, especially those actively undergoing treatment, have compromised immune systems that make them more susceptible to infection. Some say their disease has prepared them for the daily precautions that have become more widely adopted during the outbreak.

"We kind of live in a pandemic daily," said Bruce DeArk, a deputy fire chief in Jeffersonville, Indiana, battling stage 4 colon cancer. "Truthfully, if your immune system's compromised every day, you should have a mask on or you shouldn't go to stores where there are lots of people. But, this is the unseen enemy that you can't see. So it's kind of -- kind of scary."

Fear of the novel coronavirus has given way to an emotional dilemma, some cancer patients say: Get treatment and risk contracting COVID-19 at the hospital or stay home and wonder about lost time.

DeArk decided to postpone a spring trip to a top cancer clinic in Texas in light of the risk. In April, Peters made the difficult call to put off her next course of chemotherapy because Colorado was seeing a surge in coronavirus cases.

"If in five or 10 years, I have a resurgence of cancer, maybe it was because I didn't do that chemo," Peters said.

Breast cancer survivor Dawn Buckner of Adair, Oklahoma, said she's feared most for her children -- a son with asthma and daughter with cerebral palsy. Last month, just weeks before her final breast surgery, she got hit with COVID-19 herself.

"I called my husband. I was bawling, and I'm like, 'You've got to get, you know, my son, out of the bedroom,'" she said. "You see the worst of it on TV and you think, 'Oh my gosh, am I gonna stop breathing here in a minute?' So, I was pretty frantic the first day."

Buckner was forced to isolate herself at home, leaving her husband to run their small business and care for both kids. She prayed her fragile immune system would handle the disease.

"I have cancer, but I can tell you right now a whole list of people I know that that are worse off, whether it's cerebral palsy, whether it's cancer. There is always -- always -- somebody worse off than what you are," Buckner said of her outlook.

There is also the fear of dying alone, some cancer patients said, as hospitals limit bedside visits during the outbreak.

"That's terrifying to me because that's not how I want to die," said Minister. "It's a very real fear. And you plan for it the best that you can. There's not a solution."

Nearly two million Americans will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Over the last three decades, the annual number of cancer diagnoses and deaths have been steadily on the decline. But experts say the pandemic could turn those trends around.

"Screening and prevention and treatment are the pillars of medical care, and when you prolong that time, regardless of the chronic disease you're talking about, the worse the outcomes are going to be," said John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and ABC News medical contributor.

"I'm getting very worried," Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, told the agency's board during remarks this month. "Because of the pandemic, in 2021 or 2022 or 2023, we will have (the first report) since 1993 that shows an increase in cancer mortality. And I know exactly what the statistics will mean for patients: That represents more cancer suffering."

The scientific community also fears what a report in next month's The Lancet Haematology journal describes as the pandemic's "serious and disruptive effect" on clinical trials for cancer treatments and potential cures.

"The apparatus of research, other than computer-based analyses, has really come to a grinding halt in most parts of this country," said Brownstein. "So if you think about medical research as an engine that helps us develop therapeutics, then you have a gap in the pipeline."

For many cancer patients, the focus now is less on the future and more on the present.

"It's a mental challenge," said DeArk. "I've never been what you want to call scared. I've been more or less anxious, because I've taken this head-on since day one. This is not going to beat me. It's not going to define me."

Peters said the quarantine experience is an opportunity for reflection.

"It's those little victories of every day of just saying like, 'Hey, I didn't die today.' And, 'hey, the world still exists outside my window,'" she said.

Buckner, battling the coronavirus and breast cancer, said the double whammy of diseases requires daily acts of courage. Last week, she drove two hours by herself to get re-tested for the "all-clear."

This week she's celebrating her results: negative for COVID-19 and moving forward with one last planned surgery next month.

"We are thinking about how we want to live, and how we want to live better, and how we want to live with others better, which I think the pandemic, even more than cancer, is inviting us to think about right now," said Minister.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved


ABC NewsBy GMA Team, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Vivian King was 49 years old when she suffered a massive stroke.

"I was in neurological ICU for 10 days and the hospital for a total of 32 days," King, a former TV news anchor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told Good Morning America. "That was a huge shock for me."

King said her stroke seven years ago was caused by a blood clot in her brain that she said was caused by her use of birth control.

"When you look at the list of stroke risks, [you see] high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, but you don't really get to birth control until the final list," added King, who has made it her mission to educate women about stroke risks. "Women have said [to me], 'As soon as that happened to you, I went to go talk to my doctor about it.'"

The blood clot affected the left side of King's brain, which she said left her unable to speak for nearly four weeks.

King, now recovered, is sharing her story in a new memoir, "When the Words Suddenly Stopped." In it, she opens up about how she found her voice again and sharing her three-step guide to healing.

"We're going to call it the three P's. You need a posse, you need persistence and you need prayer," she said. "Any time I was feeling down, I had my posse around to give me hope."

What women need to know about the risk of strokes

One in five women in the U.S. will have a stroke in their lifetime and stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The leading causes of stroke for all people include risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and diabetes, according to the CDC.

For women, there are additional unique risk factors to watch out for, as King's stroke shows.

"Women have unique stroke risk factors and oral contraceptive use is one of them,” said Dr. Carolyn Brockington, director of the Stroke Center at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Morningside in New York City. “It’s very important to know.”

When it comes to birth control, for healthy young women without any stroke risk factors, the stroke risk associated with oral contraceptives is very small, experts say. In addition, most oral contraceptives today contain between 20 mg and 30 mg of estrogen, well below the level of estrogen (50 mg and above) known to significantly increase the risk of stroke.

The use of non-estrogen contraception, such as an intrauterine device (IUD), progestin injections, or progestin implant, is recommended for women with multiple risk factors for stroke.

Other unique stroke risk factors for women, in addition to birth control or hormone replacement therapy, include pregnancy, preeclampsia, migraine and heart arrhythmia, according to Brockington.

The signs and symptoms of a stroke are often the same for women and men and include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or difficulty speaking and understanding speech; sudden vision loss; sudden loss of balance or dizziness and a sudden, severe headache with no known cause, according to the CDC.

The key to surviving a stroke is to act fast, according to Brockington.

"In acute stroke treatment we say time is brain. The reason why we say that is every moment, every minute that goes by, 1.9 million brain cells die," she said. "You don’t have time … you have to call 911."

Brockington shared an acronym used by stroke awareness advocates to help people remember what to do if stroke symptoms appear.

The acronym, F.A.S.T., advises people to look at the face, arms and speech and then call 911.

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


simon2579/iStockBy SONY SALZMAN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With top White House officials indicating a coronavirus vaccine may be available by January 2021, scientists and vaccine experts outside the Trump administration are cautious but optimistic that a vaccine could be delivered on such an accelerated timeline.

Experts interviewed by ABC warned that developing a vaccine within a 12-month time frame could mean throwing normal scientific standards out the window, but added that a vaccine could be available by the new year if everything goes perfectly.

While President Donald Trump has been bullish in his promise to have a "vaccine by the end of the year," his top advisors have taken a more measured approach, saying a January deadline is a best-case scenario. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, said, "we want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective."

Since the start of the U.S. epidemic, Fauci has been estimating a vaccine is 12 to 18 months away. But the prior record for vaccine development -- the mumps vaccine -- took four years, meaning Fauci's early estimates drew skepticism among many vaccine experts.

But with the growing sense of urgency as the death toll mounted dramatically in March and April, vaccine developers collapsed the normal development timelines by running concurrent studies that would normally be conducted in a stepwise approach. Meanwhile, drug companies are already scaling up production without even knowing which vaccine is likely to work.

"It is not impossible," said Paul Duprex, PhD, Director of the Center for Vaccine Research and professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. "It's of course very aggressive -- but it is possible."

"You'd have to be lucky," said Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, who sits on the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory committee. "It would be remarkable, but not completely ridiculous."

Dr. Paul Goepfert, professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and an expert in vaccine design, said a vaccine by January would only be possible "if everything works out perfectly."

To have a new vaccine by January, experts said a study would need to be conducted in parts of the world where the pandemic is still raging. This would help ensure a big enough group of patients were exposed, and then protected, from the virus.

Then, one of the vaccines currently being developed would have to show positive results, which isn't a guarantee. That vaccine would also have to prove safe, without any dangerous side effects. Finally, vaccine makers would have to be ready with hundreds of millions of doses as soon as data is in hand.

"It is possible but not likely," Goepfert said.

"It's difficult to set exact timelines," said Rinke Bos, principal scientist and immunologist for Johnson and Johnson - one of the companies advancing a COVID-19 vaccine. There are several complicating factors that could easily delay the timeline beyond 18 months, including the fact that the studies will need to be conducted in places where the virus is still circulating.

"Those are quite complicated discussions," she said. "It's very difficult to say something about a timeline."

Right now there are more than 100 vaccines being studied, and at least eight of those have already progressed outside the laboratory and into human studies, according to the World Health Organization. The furthest along include candidates from the University of Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna Therapeutics, Inovio Pharmaceuticals and China's CanSino Biologics.

Many of these vaccines use different technology -- some brand-new to vaccine science -- and experts still don't know which is the most likely to work.

Meanwhile, the White House's Operation Warp Speed has resulted in a handful of vaccine candidates that might work against the novel coronavirus -- although those will also need further study.

Right now, many of the vaccines already tested in people have been accelerated far beyond the normal, methodical timelines. Instead of moving from animal studies in a laboratory to a carefully tiered Phase I, II and III system of in-human study, some of these studies are being conducted simultaneously -- with some even skipping normal animal studies.

Under normal circumstances, it would be too expensive for drug developers and too risky for human volunteers to run these types of studies concurrently. But vaccine developers are deviating from the normal rule book because of the sheer devastation of the global pandemic.

"We as scientists are rather linear individuals," said Duprex. "There are huge financial reasons for that." Now, he said, "there are people taking risks, doing something that might not lead to fruition."

The scientific challenges are unprecedented, considering how little is known about the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 250,000 people across the globe.

For example, said Offit, most vaccines work by triggering an immune response inside the body without making a person sick. But for this novel coronavirus, scientists still haven't had time to adequately study the body's immune response to infection -- meaning we don't know whether an immune system response necessarily protects against a future infection.

And rushing development could mean that important safety issues are missed.

"Most vaccines have been pretty safe, but there have been problems in the past," said Goepfert.

And the downside of immunizing millions of people with a rushed, unsafe vaccine could have long-ranging consequences.

"Vaccines are so, so important for public health," Duprex said. If something goes wrong … the general public will extrapolate that vaccines are unsafe."

"Time is critical, of course, but safety is critical," said Duprex. "In the middle of this fast approach, we absolutely cannot compromise on safety."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- All her life, 27-year-old Kiah Twisselman believed she just had "bad genetics," which prevented her from losing weight. But two years ago, she proved that theory wrong and went from 285 to 163 pounds by eating healthy and exercising.

"I just started showing up and doing it," Twisselman wrote in an Instagram post. "That's it."

In the new issue of People Magazine out this week, Twisselman's incredible weight loss journey -- along with that of several others -- is highlighted.

The publication's transformation feature spotlights people who drastically changed their lives.

"I lost 100 pounds in less than a year," Twisselman told People. "It’s been so challenging, so rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade this last year for the world."

"She lost 120 pounds by making really small changes to her life that really anybody can imitate," said Charlotte Triggs, the deputy editor of People.

In the beginning of her weight loss journey, Twisselman shared that she wanted to be healthier, so she turned to author and fitness expert, Rachel Hollis, and her five tips to thrive.

On her Instagram page, Twisselman detailed how she adapted Hollis's five daily habits like waking up one hour earlier, writing down 10 things that she's grateful for, giving up food that doesn't "bless her body" and drinking more water.

"Improving your life isn't about making some scary, drastic change overnight," she wrote on Instagram. "It's about meeting yourself where you're at and making small changes over time that you can actually stick with. Start small, stay consistent."

By adapting Hollis's lifestyle changes Twisselman was able to shed the extra weight for good.

"She started working out 30 minutes a day," said Triggs. "She started drinking a lot more liquids which she hadn't been doing before, and keeping a diary so that she could start to feel when she was really hungry."

Now, Twisselman is helping others as a weight loss coach and will soon launch her first ever digital course on her website to teach others how to shed pounds. She also shares motivational videos for her Instagram followers to help inspire them to make small, healthy changes in their lives.

Although quarantine has changed the routines for many, Twisselman says her life hasn't looked too different, and she's still making exercise and hydration her top priorities. She also makes the choice to stick to her lifestyle changes every day to reach her goals.

"If I can do it, you can ABSOLUTELY do it too," Twisselman wrote in an Instagram post. "Stop playing small, dream bigger for yourself and keep showing up."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Michele HolbrookBy NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A mother who lost her only child to an accidental drug overdose is speaking out in hopes of saving lives as overdose deaths raise national concerns during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Chandler Cook was clean for over a year before his sudden death on April 21. The 28-year-old had grown fond of his job as head barback at a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, and was training to become the head bartender.

When he wasn't working, Chandler spent time camping, biking and attending music festivals. He had a great relationship with his mom, Michele Holbrook.

"He was just an amazing young man," Holbrook of Amelia Island, Florida, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "He would give the shirt off his back. In school, if someone was being picked on, he would be on their side. He had a heart of gold."

Holbrook said Chandler emperimented with marijuana and alcohol at the age of 13. At 19, he was prescribed opioid painkillers after a shoulder injury.

"When he couldn't get that any longer, he started using heroin," she explained.

"Where a normal human being could go out and have one glass of wine, with an addict, they cannot do any of that," Holbrook added. "It is overboard and I saw that with him."

Chandler was revived after a heroin overdose in 2017. He then asked to be checked into a drug rehabilitation center.

"He called and said, 'Mom, I need help. I need rehab,'" Holbrook said. "A counselor helped get him into a rehab in Georgia."

"But of course, it's just that vicious cycle," she added. "After that, he came back [and] started using marijuana and other drugs."

Holbrook said Chandler sold to an undercover officer after returning from rehab and served six months in jail. He was placed in another rehab program in Jacksonville.

"As a mother of an addict, you can get angry because you are so frustrated," Holbrook said. "It's a full-circle process."

In a video soon before his death, Chandler is interviewed by his mother, revealing to her his personal struggles with addiction.

"I want to see the stigma of addiction be dropped," Chandler tells Holbrook in the clip. "I want to see this country get better. I had a tough battle with it, and my battle, it's a lifelong thing."

He went on, "Over this past year, I've seen things come back into my life... I have a great relationship with my family again. I have a great job again, I'm healthy, I'm happy."

Once the pandemic hit, Chandler lost his job in food service and began following Florida's stay-at-home orders.

On April 20, Holbrook texted her son, asking how he was holding up.

"I even said, 'I'll be so glad when I can give you a big hug around the neck,'" she recalled telling him.

Chandler never replied to Holbrook's message. The following day, Chandler's friend called Holbrook to tell her he'd be going to Chandler's apartment to check in on him.

When Chandler didn't answer knocks, his friends broke the door down.

"I literally almost passed out," Holbrook said. "What do you do when you think your son's dead or you think something's wrong? I remember walking up to his apartment and Jesus said to me, 'It is OK. It is my turn to look after him.' I think that's what will give me peace, is knowing I will see him again."

Holbrook looked on as police removed Chandler's body from the scene. His death was ruled an accidental opioid overdose.

Holbrook held a social distancing memorial at her family church. Afterward, 250 cars paraded around the building to honor Chandler.

Drug overdose deaths and COVID-19

Chandler is one of many in the nation who have died as a result of a drug overdose over the last few months as the novel coronavirus has killed hundreds of thousands globally.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of Americans into isolation, as doctors continue to look for a cure.

It's unclear if there's a nationwide trend of drug overdoses happening specifically during the pandemic, though several communities have reported a spike in drug overdose deaths.

In Jacksonville, where Chandler lived, the fire and rescue department reported a 20% increase in overdose emergency calls in March alone. In Columbus, Ohio, the county coroner's office saw a surge in overdose deaths, including 12 in a 24-hour period the first week of April.

And at least four New York State counties have acknowledged an increase in reported overdoses, including Erie County, where officials saw at least 110 drug overdoses, including 36 deaths, reported since the beginning of March.

Aliese Alter is the senior program manager for the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) Program Office based out of Baltimore, Maryland.

ODMAP is free of charge to first responders and government agencies, and is funded through Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

ODMAP is a mobile friendly interface which can be accessed by phone, tablet and computer, and which helps those on the front lines of the overdose epidemic track both known and suspected fatal and non-fatal overdose incidents.

Agencies and states are not mandated to use ODMAP, though participation is wide with over 3,300 participating agencies across 49 states, Puerto Rico and D.C. There's been over 265,000 suspected overdoses submitted.  

Since March 24, as stay-at-home orders continue to be enforced, ODMAP has been releasing weekly reports analyzing the possible implications of COVID-19 on the overdose epidemic.

"Although several U.S. communities have reported a spike in overdose deaths, it's still unclear what nationwide trends are, due to several evolving variables," Alter explained.

To understand the full reach of the overdose epidemic, Alter said there's much to consider including seasonality, unemployment rates, the current state of the economy and how it will affect people who use drugs.

Recently, ODMAP released an analysis evaluating the possible consequences of COVID-19 on the overdose epidemic (meaning all drugs, including opioids and stimulants).

What it found was that historic data modeling would not have predicted the increase in overdose activity present in the ODMAP submissions since the onset of COVID-19.

Suspected overdose submissions to ODMAP have risen 16.56% based on a 30-day average comparison from 2019 to 2020. A comparison of raw numbers yields an increase of 11.39% for fatal overdoses, and an increase of 18.64% for non-fatal overdoses during that same time period.

May 2020 is showing a continuation of this trend, with an increase of 8% in overdoses in the first six days of the month, when compared to 2019.

As ODMAP notes in its May 13 report regarding overdose data, ODMAP submissions and COVID-19 cases, "correlation does not imply causation."

Though, experts are growing concerned about the effects the pandemic may have on people like Chandler, who Holbrook believes wouldn't have relapsed if it weren't for the current state of the world.

"Once our city and nation and government shut down, he had no where to go," Holbrook said. "Now you're looking at no job, and structure is gone. There's no income and stress. There's isolation and no one to hang out with because we have to follow strict guidelines."

"They lose everything that was helping them stay clean and sober," she added.

In a statement to ABC News in April, regarding increased reports of overdose deaths, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York James Kennedy Jr. said, "I think we need to consider the role that social isolation coupled with nonstop reporting on the pandemic may have on the feelings of desperation and hopelessness among those struggling with substance abuse."

"Amidst the current crisis, we need to remember that substance abuse existed long before COVID-19, and it will likely remain long after we have wiped out the virus," Kennedy added.

Recovering from addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Janet Taylor is a psychiatrist at Centerstone of Florida and treats people with addiction.

Taylor said isolation can be more challenging to recovering addicts as they may rely on routine and positive distractions to maintain sobriety.

And with more than 38 million Americans left jobless, daily routines have arguably been compromised.

"Employment is important for positive mental health and self esteem." Taylor told GMA. "A lot of my clients are really frustrated and feel like they're going stir crazy. Historically, they would turn to using and some have. Many are trying not to, but those cravings and desires, especially to control moods, people struggling with addiction have to deal with it every single day."

Additionally, those in recovery have been stripped from normal resources due to social distancing guidelines.

Taylor admitted help may be harder to find, but it's crucial to get creative in order to stay clean and sober.

Below, Taylor offers advice for people struggling with addiction during the pandemic and their loved ones:

1. Reach out to your sponsor.

2. Keep in touch with friends and family.

"If lonely, find a healthy connection," Taylor said.

3. Keep active, whether it be mental or physical.

"It's a time to self-reflect and think about your sense of purpose," Taylor said. "Think about small goals, like the fact that you didn't use in a day. Work on GED, a resume. Do positive activities to help you so when restrictions are lifted, you're ready."

4. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offering virtual meeting options using a computer or phone.

5. Telehealth services uses Zoom, video tech or phone to conduct exams.

6. Call 911's non-emergency line and its dispatchers can direct you to appropriate resources.

"Treatment is there 24/7. It may be harder to access, but be resourceful," Taylor said. "Now is not the time to stop what you're doing."

7. For family and friends of people in recovery, it's important to check in.

"Some burn bridges, and you'll have firm boundaries," Taylor said.

 Holbrook agreed, even offering her own telephone number to those who come across Chandler's story. "If your family member is struggling, Zoom them, FaceTime them," she said.

"Get in their face," she added. "Don't let it be too late."

Holbrook, who does advocacy work for the Children's Tumor Foundation, now hopes to start a non-profit educating kids in Chandler's memory.

If you're struggling with addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help you locate a treatment facility. Their helpline is free, confidential and open 24 hours a day: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved


Courtesy Melissa AlcantaraBy HALEY YAMADA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- SKIMS aren’t the only thing Kim Kardashian West relies on to look fantastic in every outfit. She also puts in work with celebrity trainer Melissa Alcantara.

Alcantara just published her first book, Fit Gurl: The Total-Body Turnaround and shared five moves with ABC News' Good Morning America to start shaping up for the summer.

Just get a resistance band and be ready to feel the burn.

1. Kneeling banded hip thrusts

This exercise focuses on the glutes.

First, put the band around your hips. Then, while kneeling and with your back toward something sturdy and secure such as a bench or heavy table, wrap the band around that heavy object.

Next, after leaning back into almost a sitting position, thrust your hips forward while keeping your chest engaged and your shoulders away from your ears. Do four sets of 30 reps on each leg.

Tip: Your knees should be spread wide and your feet should touch behind you, and your upper body should be locked. When thrusting, think of shooting your body upwards versus forward so that your hips and glutes do all the work.

2. Standing banded hip abduction

This one’s for the glutes and hips.

First, stand tall and step into the band with the first leg that you’re working. Then, take a few steps away from the band to create tension.

Now, stand firmly on the planted foot and lift your working leg up to the side of you. Lift each leg 15 times in four sets.

Hold onto a sturdy platform to help drive the leg upward, and really put the focus on using the hip and glute and not the foot.

3. Standing banded kickbacks

This exercise focuses on glutes.

First, stand tall and slip the band under your heel on your working leg. Place the band around a sturdy surface and take a few steps away from the platform to create tension in the band.

Then, while facing the sturdy platform, slightly bend your opposite, non-working, knee and sit your hips back in a lunge-like position. Hold onto the table or bench that your band is strapped to with both hands, and push your working foot up and back behind you in a straight line, really squeezing your glute at the top. Work each leg 20 times in four sets.

Tip: Make sure you give the band enough tension that when you bring the working knee back to the starting position that the band does not loosen and fall from your foot.

4. Banded pull-throughs

This move works the glutes and hamstrings.

Secure the band to a sturdy surface, and face away from the surface while grabbing the band with both hands between your legs. Take a few steps away from the table or bench to create tension in the band.

Then, while standing tall with both knees slightly bent, shoulders away from your ears and your chin tucked, push your hips back and then power your hips forward. Really squeeze your glutes when driving your hips forward. Perform 30 reps in four sets.

Tip: Both hands should be wrapped around the band and resting against your thighs. You don't want to use your hands or upper body to pull. This ensures it’s all hip movement.

5. Lying banded hamstring curls

This exercise will hit the glutes, hamstrings and calves.

First, lie on the ground face down, place the band around a sturdy surface and then place it around your feet.

Step away slightly from the sturdy platform to create tension and hold the band in place around your feet. Then, pull your heels up and as close to your glutes as possible. Curl your hamstrings for 100 continuous reps.

Tip: Keep your chest and head up as you press your hips against the floor. Your hips will want to rise, but make sure you push down firmly as you raise your legs.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



The crippling spread of COVID-19 across the globe has progressed in parallel with a flood of information online relating to the pandemic. The World Health Organization branded that spread as an "infodemic" earlier this year.

The "infodemic" has highlighted the importance of readers identifying false information about the coronavirus and those who might be spreading it.

Here's a look at potential sources of false information and a few quick embedded tips to deal with it.

If you have to remember one thing, always consider the source of the information. Ask yourself: Is the information from a trusted and authoritative entity? If not, then you should proceed with caution.

ABC News took a look at the different types of people spreading false coronavirus information and their motivations for doing so.

Conspiracy theorists

Conspiracy theories are not new but social media has allowed people the world over to convene and build fantastical theories. Some of the efforts to spread this misinformation are very well coordinated and cause real world damage, like the "pizzagate" conspiracy that resulted in a shooting in Washington, D.C.

There is no shortage of conspiracy theories circulating online relating to COVID-19. Earlier this month, a slickly produced conspiracy film focused on the novel coronavirus was viewed millions of times, according to The Verge, as platforms tried to remove it from their sites. Many of the shocking conspiracy theories put forth about COVID-19 are specifically meant to manipulate the consumers' emotions, experts say.

Before believing or sharing the content out of fear or anger, "take a breath" as First Draft's Claire Wardle told ABC News earlier this year. A simple check of the source or a quick search can help vet something that may seem suspicious, according to experts.

"If it seems like a really detailed and hard-to-follow network of information related to the interests of different parties in spreading COVID-19, you are probably looking at a conspiracy theory," Joan Donovan, an expert who studies disinformation campaigns at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, told ABC News. In March, multiple tech giants issued a joint statement saying they planned to work together to fight misinformation and elevate authoritative content.

"We're helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world," the statement read in part.


Donovan's advice to avoid scams is pretty straightforward: You should avoid buying things -- insurance among them -- from vendors you are not familiar with.

"Right now, you should only do businesses with those you've done business with in the past," Donovan said. "There is little chance of an 'amazing deal' on life insurance, masks, hand sanitizer and other items. Be very cautious of putting your credit card number into new websites and never click a link that comes to you via ... unsolicited text message."

Similarly, while not necessarily being an intended scam, false or misleading marketing of products related to COVID-19 is something to be on the lookout for as well, experts warn.

Politicians and foreign powers

President Donald Trump, who has a history of making false statements, is not the only politician who has made unproven claims. But he presents a unique problem when it comes to the spread of inaccurate information. As leader of the world's most powerful democracy, the president possesses an extremely powerful platform and the ability to reach billions of people instantly. Trump has a history of saying things that are untrue or misleading.

The president has made unproven, misleading and confusing statements since COVID-19 hit the United States. For example, he initially downplayed the outbreak and said it was under control, and recently suggested that a disinfectant may be able to be injected as a treatment against it.

Trump has defended his administration’s response by, among other ways, saying he blocked travel from China, where the virus is believed to have originated. He also said he was being “sarcastic” about the disinfectant remark.

Still, it is important for news outlets to fact check and add context to the president's assertions, experts advise.

"Sharing misinformation only makes things worse, whether it's from a politician or anyone else," Donovan said.

Foreign nations have also been accused of spreading false information. The State Department said it has identified campaigns by Russia, Iran and China to spread disinformation about the pandemic.

Earlier this year, with no evidence, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson promoted the theory that the United States was responsible for the outbreak, saying the American military brought the coronavirus to China in October.

Members of the White House, including Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have also speculated, without evidence, that the coronavirus may have been released from a lab in Wuhan, China, a claim China denies.

Political operatives

The second category of political operatives includes groups of people pushing a specific agenda who are not officially linked to the state or a specific political party, such as anti-vaccine protesters. "The biggest players are those who are pushing health misinformation based on conspiracies about the deep state, and who reject science and evidence that COVID-19 is a devastating illness," Donovan said.

Family, friends and celebrities

Yes, it is a risk -- especially during a health crisis -- to assume that the information offered by your friends and family is always accurate. Again, it is important to always try to ascertain the source. Also, it's OK to "compassionately engage" your friends and family members who you know are sharing false information, Donovan said.

In terms of celebrities, just because they are famous does not mean they are putting out accurate information. Be wary. Be skeptical. Your favorite actor or sports star is not the place you should be getting the latest updates on the pandemic.

"We saw how impactful celebrities were in the past when they spread health misinformation that vaccines cause autism. Celebrities, because they are newsworthy and have fans, become the perfect amplifier for misinformation," Donovan said.

Conversely, celebrities can use their social media reach to spread accurate information, as exemplified recently when certain celebrities, including Julia Roberts and Millie Bobby Brown, handed their accounts over to coronavirus experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.


This category is pretty easy. Certain sites or accounts intentionally produce information intended to entertain, not inform. For example, The Onion famously produces satirical "news pieces."

Always knowing the source of your information is key here -- as it is generally.

For those users interested in a deeper dive, ABC News has previously published a guide to spotting disinformation and First Draft has collated helpful resources related to online verification and the coronavirus.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Paul Archuleta/Getty ImagesBy MEGAN STONE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Sailor Brinkley-Cook, who recently competed in last season's Dancing with the Stars, opened up about her relationship with her body image in an Instagram post.

The 21-year-old, who is the daughter of model Christie Brinkley, revealed that she suffers from body dysmorphia.

Along with a series of photos on Sunday, Brinkley-Cook wrote the post which included lyrics from Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" before revealing "I've been so down on myself recently."

The young model wrote that she had been "Crying about my cellulite, letting the fat on my body ruin my day, getting mad that i'm not as skinny as i once was."

"The body dysmorphia and left over eating disorder tendencies have been coming in strong," Brinkley-Cook wrote. "As i come into myself as a young woman my body shifts and changes by the month, the "control" i felt i once had over it has been completely stripped away from me."

While scrutinizing her imperfections, the DWTS alum revealed what caused her to start spiraling. "I go on instagram and scroll through photos of girls that look "perfect".. shiny skin with not a bump to be seen, tiny little waist and thighs that look like chopsticks. And i compare myself," she admitted.

However, the 21-year-old added that she's taking steps to break from that mindset by reminding herself that she is healthy. She also wrote that she hoped her emotionally vulnerable post inspires other young women to break from the negative spiral while learning to love and be proud of their body.

"If you're out there hating on yourself, stop!! Appreciate yourself. You're body is so magical," she encouraged, later affirming that she is learning to embrace her own imperfections.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Bill Oxford/iStockBy ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- If you've been reading coronavirus news coverage, you've likely stumbled across a reference to a term called "R0." It's been on the tips of world leaders' tongues in recent months, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel's, whose R0 explanation garnered nine million views on Twitter in April.

Pronounced "R-naught," the reproductive number is an indicator of how contagious a disease is, or how easily it spreads from person to person in a community. The number is important because government leaders are using R0 as a proxy for determining whether their respective COVID-19 outbreaks are growing, shrinking and or holding steady.

Crucially, R0 is not a fixed number. It's a jumping off point that's influenced by many factors, including human behavior.

What is R0?

The reproductive number of a virus, or R0, is the number of people, on average, that one infected person will subsequently infect. The naught in R0 refers to the zeroth generation of a disease, as in "patient zero." A higher R0 means more people will be infected over the course of the outbreak. A lower number means fewer people will be infected over time. That replication will continue if there are no vaccinations against the illness or immunity in the population.

Because that number is imprecise and variable, it's often expressed as a range.

Here are a few examples:

If R0 is 1, each infected person infects just one other person, on average. Over time, the number of infected people will remain the same.

If R0 is less than 1, each sick person is infecting fewer than one person, on average, so the number of infected individuals will shrink over time. In case case of COVID-19, and R0 of less than 1 means lockdown measures could be eased.

If R0 is greater than 1, each sick person is infecting more than one person, on average, so the outbreak will grow. So, lockdown measures may need to remain in place.

And while R0 = 1 and R0 = 2 might seem close, "the difference between a reproductive number of 1 and a reproductive number of 2 is huge, in terms of the number of people who will ultimately be infected," Emily Gurley, an associate scientist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explained during an online course she teaches about contact tracing.

"Everything we can do to help us get the reproductive number closer to 1 will help us control the spread of a disease," Gurley added.

Measles, which is one of the most infectious diseases that scientists know of, has an R0 of about 15. (While there's some dispute about this number, measles is frequently cited as having an R0 between 12 and 18 in scientific literature.)

With an R0 of 15, every person infected with measles will go on to sicken 15 additional people.

On the other end of the spectrum, MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, another type of coronavirus, has an R0 lower than 1, meaning on average, each infected person infects less than one other person. Because of that low reproductive number, MERS does not usually result in large disease outbreaks.

For now, scientists have calculated the R0 of the novel coronavirus to be between 2 and 3, meaning each infected individual will infect to two to three additional people, on average.

As a historical comparison, the R0 of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is estimated to have been between 1.4 and 2.8, according to an article published in BMC Medicine.

What are the limitations of R0?

They're numerous.

Some government leaders have framed their discussion of R0 as a race to get below 1, but like many scientific concepts, R0 is more complicated than a one-time race to success.

R0, which involves modeling, can change from place to place and is impacted by human behavior. It involves imperfect and different estimates based on assumptions and educated guesswork by scientists. As researchers aptly noted in a paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases last year, R0 is "easily misrepresented, misinterpreted, and misapplied."

As in the case of measles, scientists continue to disagree on the R0 of even diseases they've been studying for decades.

In the United States, the COVID-19 outbreak has not been uniform. Different regions, states and cities have had their own micro-outbreaks, which are on different timelines, making it hard to assign one R0 to the entire country. New York City, Seattle and Chicago may have very different R0 numbers than one another.

That's not to say governments shouldn't try to lower their R0 numbers. Though imperfect, it's a useful proxy for estimating how the lockdown and reopening policies of states and cities are working -- or not.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


'Hug Time' inventor, Carly Marinaro, pictured in front of her plastic hug shield she made from PVC pipe, a window insulator kit, and industrial gloves in Rockford, Illinois. - (Courtesy Carly Marinaro) By HALEY YAMADA, ABC News

(ROCKFORD, Ill.) -- While hugging has proven difficult amid social distancing guidelines from the coronavirus pandemic, that didn't stop Carly Marinaro, who created the "Hug Time'' plastic shield, from surprising her 85-year-old grandmother with safe hugs from her and her grandchildren.

Marinaro, from Rockford, Illinois, said it was Mother's Day that motivated her to put together the plastic device as a surprise for her grandmother, Rose Gagnon.

"I am really close with my grandmother and my kids are as well," said Marinaro, who added that she used to see Gagnon close to every day for morning coffee. "When Mother's Day rolled around and she wasn't able to physically be with any of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, she was pretty sad."

"We are a family of huggers," said Gagnon. "That's how our family shows love."

Marinaro said she got to googling and searched for long plastic gloves, PVC pipe and a window insulation kit. She spent less than $50 on materials and, with a little help from a local hardware store, assembled the 'Hug Time' in about an hour.

"It was fairly simple and quick," said Marinaro. "I am an artistic person and a very visual person ... I've been making things for years."

Gagnon said she got a call and specific directions from her great-grandchildren to come over for the surprise.

"[They] said, 'Nana, you have to comb your hair and put lipstick on ... we're going to have a video," said Gagnon with a laugh. "When I got there, I was totally shocked. I could not believe what [Marinaro] had done. She knew that I was missing my grandchildren ... I just missed my hugs."

"I knew this was for her, that's why we did it, but I didn't realize it was just as much for the kids and for me," said Marinaro. "We were thinking she needed this, but [we] all needed it."

Neither Marinaro nor Gagnon expected so much local attention from the moment, but felt happy to spread joy during this time.

"It just blows my mind the response that it's gotten and it's done out of love, not anything else," said Gagnon, who is looking forward to a real hug sometime soon. "It's been hard to stay away from my family ... that warm fuzziness in their hearts ... that's what we're after."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- As the nation moves towards recovery and reopening, one emerging reality in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak is that the American health care system will see its own new normal in the coming weeks and months, according to experts and doctors.

Strapped for cash and some protective equipment, and forced to re-write protocols to better fortify against the contagious spread of COVID-19, doctors’ offices and hospitals across the country are beginning to rethink their approach to personal care -- from an increase in telemedicine and widespread coronavirus testing for patients, to the complex math about which procedures should go ahead and how.

“This is an opportunity to ask, what do we really need to do and what do we need to not do,” Robert MacLean, former president of the American College of Physicians, told ABC News. The pandemic “has gotten us back to doctoring. We need to take advantage of that and critically look at the utilization of lot of things we have done.”

While virus patients flooded into some hospitals, elective and other non-emergency surgeries came grinding to a halt, causing drastic financial strain on facilities big and small. Now, as with the rest of the country, doctors have cautiously started to resume those procedures.

As of this report, at least 30 states have reportedly relaxed mitigation strategies related to surgery, and it appears more are on their way.

University of Michigan Health System has reopened its elective surgeries, but officials there said they are unsure how long it will take for the hospital to be ready for the old pace of activity.

Dr. Andrew Ibrahim, a general surgeon at University of Michigan, said physicians there are weighing the benefits of each surgical procedure against the risk of COVID-19 and the resources available. The resumption of procedures so far has been gradual.

“We've brought back surgery slowly based on their time-sensitivity in line with [Michigan] Gov. [Gretchen] Whitmer's orders,” he said.

Ibrahim said the hospital created a central committee to prioritize which cases need more urgent attention, relying on specialists to help triage the cases.

In Nebraska and Kentucky, hospital administrators and physicians like Dr. Prakash Pandalai, a surgeon at University of Kentucky, said they started by prioritizing cancer operations, surgeries needed to prevent loss of a limb, and procedures needed to prevent further acceleration of disease.

"But we need to be careful about ensuring that there is enough protective equipment for providers and patients as we come back online," Pandalai said.

'Watching PPE supplies and flow very carefully'

As Pandalai indicated, beyond the urgency of the procedures for patients, one limiting factor is the supply of personal protective equipment, better known as PPE, that became such a focal point as the coronavirus spread.

PPE is not necessarily the same for various surgeries as it would be to treat COVID-19 patients, but there is enough of an overlap in basic protective equipment that health care officials told ABC News they're taking careful note when considering the amount of PPE that would be expended for a particular operation and how much PPE they might need if a resurgence of COVID-19 strikes.

Jeffrey Tieman, president and chief executive officer at the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said that if hospitals "don't feel confidant in PPE supply, you need to think about whether you can continue to offer those elective procedures."

Dr. Kat McGraw, physician and chief medical officer at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital in Vermont, said that since the state has allowed outpatient surgeries to resume, the hospital has been "tasked with that responsibility of being able to self supply surge PPE if we want to be able to go forward with elective procedures."

McGraw said the hospital has developed its own stockpile of PPE for an emergency, which she compared to a blood bank.

"We have been purchasing not through our usual streams, but trying to find creative ways to get augmented amount of PPE, but thats not necessarily sustainable," she said. "The trick to moving forward with surgery is making sure it doesn't impeded with our ability to have everything in place for our ability to manage a surge for COVID-19."

Dr. Brandon Mauldin, the chief medical officer of the Tulane Health System in Louisiana, referred to this dilemma as a "balancing act."

"Because we have initiated and started back on elective surgeries as [COVID-19] patients have declined, the balancing of it is a lot easier to do," Mauldin told ABC News. "So we feel more comfortable that we have sufficient PPE."

Others are not as confident. Dr. Sharmila Makhija, chair of OBYGN at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, said she and other colleagues "across the country" are "worried about whether we have enough personal protective equipment to do elective surgeries."

Somewhere in the middle is Providence Health, which serves urban and rural communities from Alaska to Southern California. The chief value officer there, Dr. Joanne Roberts, told ABC News they are "watching PPE supplies and flow very carefully as we resume non-emergent procedures."

Remote screenings and coronavirus tests as pre-op

One strategy to save on PPE, as well as improve general safety amid the coronavirus spread, is the increasing use of telemedicine -- what one doctor said may become a pre-operation "new normal."

Dr. Aleaf Worku, at CareMore Health, said it will be more likely that patient assessment -- the initial practice of seeing what kind of care a patient needs -- could be done remotely, sparing the patient a visit to the hospital and sparing medical professionals from coming in physical contact with the patient.

“This is why telemedicine may be the way we do pre-op screening in the new normal,” Aleaf said.

Another potential new normal for pre-op? COVID-19 testing.

That's the strategy McGraw said her Virginia hospital has adopted. Patients coming in for surgery are tested 72 to 96 hours in advance of the procedure and are required to self-isolate during that time.

She said patients should think of this as part of the new standard "pre-op" steps that so many have come to know before going in for any sort of procedure, which often include precautions such as refraining from eating or drinking for 12 hours.

"Now, everybody needs their [coronavirus] test," McGraw said.

Doctors at hospitals in California, Texas, and Louisiana said they are doing universal testing for patients scheduled for surgeries.

The testing "gives reassurance to both patients and providers, even beyond just doctors nurses, that we are doing all we can to create a COVID-safe environment," said Dr. Loren Robinson, who practices at Christus Health in Texas.

But protocols are not the same, even within the states. Dr. Quyen Chu at Oschner LSU Health in Shreveport, Louisiana, said the hospital is doing universal testing for patients undergoing elective procedures, but Mauldin at Tulane said his hospital system in Louisiana hasn't quite gone that far.

Patients and doctors there are working together to determine if testing is necessary on a case by case basis, Mauldin said. The hospital has taken other precautions, including universal masking and staggered patient appointments.

As hospitals feel financial pinch, COVID-19 sparks larger questions

Beyond the staggering human suffering, another casualty of the coronavirus' spread is the financial stability of hospitals and other health care facilities at a time when many are needed most.

Some hospitals are in dire trouble, despite billions of financial support to the industry from the federal government.

“One sad reality is that smaller or stand-alone hospitals may have lost too much revenue the last two months to remain viable,” said Ibrahim.

Physicians interviewed by ABC News predicted a wave of hospital closures could strike this summer.

"How is it possible for hospitals to be so vital at the same time they're so vulnerable and what is the solution in the new normal?" asked Deb Gordon, a consumer health advocate.

For those that survive, like many belonging to larger systems that have multiple hospital locations, health care officials said COVID-19 may be the catalyst for asking and answering bigger, long-term questions related to what's called value-based care, a philosophy that seeks to change how much is spent on health care as a nation and improve outcomes. The approach prioritizes keeping people healthy rather than having to deliver and pay for avoidable and unnecessary care that is inefficient and may not improve health.

For example, in the aftermath of the coronavirus, health systems may be more willing to reorganize care so it meets patients where they are at in their health journey and keep them safer, such as ambulatory surgery centers and improved care at home.

While the moves can also make sense from a financial perspective, experts warned they will need to be balanced against potential safety concerns.

Value-based care also prioritizes chronic disease management, a significant issue that has been exposed during the pandemic. Those with chronic diseases are more likely to have worse outcomes if they contract the coronavirus.

Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring could allow for better management of chronic diseases earlier and prevent patients from showing up in a healthcare setting that can potentially expose them to the virus.

"It is a fascinating time. The opportunities are huge," Providence Health's Roberts said.

But for all the changes hospitals could make, much is going to depend on whether patients feel comfortable enough to come in at all. ABC News has reported that people are foregoing in-person consultations of even potentially serious conditions for fear of COVID-19.

"We did just complete a patient sample survey of 12,000 volunteers, and the biggest barrier does seem to be their fear of getting COVID in our facilities. Only 18% say they feel safe going back to clinics, [emergency rooms], or hospitals," Roberts told ABC News.

With the new safety measures, hospitals and doctors across the country hope to change that.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- The headaches came first. "Terrible" migraines that would last throughout the day.

Osmond Nicholas, then 26, was working as a police officer in his hometown of Oceanside, California, after earning his Bachelor's degree in criminal justice and his Master's in homeland security at San Diego State University.

 While out on the job in May 2017, the former college football player had what he described as "a little blackout" moment while driving his police car. He said he remembers questioning where he was at the moment, and his partner at the time reminded him, "Oh, you're driving right behind me."

The headaches and blackouts persisted. Soon he was sleeping up to 16 hours a day.

In July, after multiple doctors told him it was likely fatigue due to his graveyard shift on the police force, he received a diagnosis that would change the course of his life.

Nicholas was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, a rare disease that experts say is among the deadliest type of brain cancers. The aggressive cancer affects an estimated 13,000 in the United States every year and is not curable. Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy were both diagnosed with and ultimately died from the disease.

Bachelor party plans end up in the emergency room

Before receiving his brain cancer diagnosis, Nicholas said he thought the migraines and chronic fatigue were due to his "work schedule or diet." He changed his diet to see if that would make a difference, but the migraines continued.

"Finally I said, you know what, maybe I am behind in sleep. I went to a doctor, and he kind of gave me the chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis," he said.

But Nicholas didn't understand the diagnosis because he felt like he was getting plenty of sleep.

In June, Nicholas was planning to go to Las Vegas for his bachelor party with some friends. He had proposed to his then-fiancée Trinity Daniel in June 2016, and the two were planning to get married in September 2017. At his parents' home the night before his trip, he experienced an extremely painful headache.

"That was the worst headache I ever had, which led to nausea and me waking up vomiting," he remembered.

His mother, a nurse practitioner, insisted they go to the hospital immediately.

Within an hour while at the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Center in San Diego, Nicholas was told that a CT scan showed he had a mass in his brain.

"I didn't know what mass was, or I didn't put two and two together -- mass, tumor, cancer," he said.

"I was actually excited at this point because for half a year I'd been feeling like I was crazy with these headaches," he continued. "Finally they had found something that I wasn't crazy, and everybody was believing me."

Grasping the reality of his diagnosis

After discovering the mass, Nicholas was told he would have to have emergency surgery that morning. He said the immediacy of the surgery didn't allow him time to digest any of the information.

"At that point, I hadn't even really put cancer in any of this," he said. "I just thought, OK, I got a tumor, or a mass. The worst part at that point was them doing a craniotomy and opening my skull."

After the surgery, he thought he was "over the largest hill."

"I was pretty sure that they were going to call me, say no news is good news ... and that did not happen," he shared.

He remembered telling his boss that he could come back to work in a few weeks after the staples were removed from his head.

Two weeks post-operation, Nicholas had his first oncology referral appointment in July 2017. There he was told that he had brain cancer, specifically stage 4 glioblastoma, which he described as, "a bunch of words," to him at that point.

"I was probably a little naive, even after having brain surgery, I was of the mindset that people always have benign brain tumors all the time, or benign tumors, I always see it on the news," he said. "That's the extent of it. They take something out of my head, I'll have to deal with the ugly scar, and I'll be back to work."

His mother asked about his prognosis in the appointment after hearing the diagnosis.

"That's when the doctor kind of reluctantly, but truthfully, told me the average can be anywhere from 12 to 18 months, but that I was lucky that I got the tumor out," he said.

Although glioblastoma is more common with older adults, the disease affects patients of all ages.

"A lot of research is ongoing trying to understand why these tumors develop and so far, with very rare exception, there does not seem to be any link with environmental exposure, nor with any link for an inherited or genetic predisposition to the development of these tumors," Dr. David Reardon, clinical director, Center for Neuro-Oncology, Medical Oncology, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told ABC News' Good Morming America.

"For the vast majority of patients, this is a type of cancer that develops for reasons we don't understand and is not due to anything they did, or were exposed to or inherited," Reardon, who has no connection to Nicholas' case, said.

With survival rates varying by several prognostic factors, including age, tumor stage and more, the median survival rate is estimated at 15 months for patients with glioblastoma, according to Reardon.

Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, chief of neurosurgery and program leader of the department of neuro-oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, said for patients who receive "very intensive and highly monitored care" the median survival ranges from around 16 to 20 months. Vogelbaum has no connection to Nicholas' case.

Nicholas said the day he received his diagnosis was "probably one of the hardest days" of his life.

"I literally thought, I'm young, I have cancer -- that means they could probably give me the most chemotherapy and most radiation and I'll be fine," he said.

"Then my oncologist later broke it down that this is not that type of cancer; It's a terminal cancer," he remembered. "Sometime sooner or later it will come back."

He remembered crying and not wanting to tell his diagnosis to his fiancée, who had just graduated from law school and was studying for the bar exam.

"I just wanted to come back home and report good news ... All I was seeing was that they give you 12 to 15 months ... and they lost their frame of speech ... their sense of way," he said about his research on the disease.

Nicholas called up his close friends to tell them he, "probably wouldn't be here much longer" after hearing the news.

"When you're so young, just hearing the word 'terminal' means you're gonna die ... I couldn't even mask how that was," he said.

Daniel, Nicholas' then-fiancée, now-wife, said the time was "extremely hard" as a young couple and changed their perspective on life.

"We definitely had our sad days where we would just sit around the house and cry, or one thing we used to do together is, which we still do now, we go on really long walks," she said. "We would just kind of talk about how we were feeling. At first, it was hard, but he is a fighter. He is someone who is committed to living."

Moving forward with treatment

Nicholas started his treatment with the standard of care for brain cancer patients. Following surgery, he started Temozolomide, or Temodar, a form of chemotherapy, combined with radiation at UCSD's Moores Cancer Center in August 2017.

But his body did "not respond well" to the chemotherapy.

"During radiation, my blood work, which are all my white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells, took a dive, which happens because that's what chemotherapy does," he said.

"Typically they take you off of that for a couple of weeks, it comes back up and then you restart your medication, but mine went so low," he continued. "I remember my platelets were in the single digits, which could cause you to start hemorrhaging and your body basically to die from that."

Nicholas had to discontinue chemotherapy after four weeks because of his body's reaction. He was nearly halfway through his 30 radiation treatments when his doctor informed him that he was "extremely anemic" and he had a very weak immune system.

He remembered getting short of breath from time to time, and his doctor told him, "'You have no immune system ... all your neutrophils are at zero, so be careful. Don't go outside.'" The next day, Nicholas got a fever and went straight to the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Center, where the medical staff placed him in isolation on the oncology unit.

Nicholas was set to get married the next month, on Sept. 9, 2017, and had to stay quarantined on the oncology floor of the hospital for nearly three weeks.

"Up until September, I think third or fourth, they had to wait till my white blood cell neutrophil count got to at least 500 before they could release me out into the public. I remember, at that point, thinking that I was going to cancel my wedding because I was stuck in a hospital," he said.

His neutrophil count slowly rose, and he was finally released from the hospital three days before his wedding.

He hasn't done chemotherapy since, though he did finish his radiation treatments. The primary treatment he has relied on since September 2017 is Optune, a cap that he said he wears up to 23 hours a day.

Optune is a device used to treat glioblastoma that, "uses technology called 'tumor treating fields' to deliver electric fields to the brain, which can help stop the proliferation of cancer cells," according to the Mayo Clinic.

Although patients using Optune do not feel any of the electrical impulses from the treatment, Reardon said the treatment takes a "fairly motivated patient" because it should be worn at least 18 hours a day.

"We know from laboratory research that cancer cells, they tend to grow and divide in a very dysregulated and rapid way compared to normal cells in our body," Dr. Reardon explained. "When cancer cells are exposed to these oscillating electrical fields, it makes it very hard for the cells to split in two and divide. Eventually, if they can't do that the cancer cells give up and die."

When Nicholas first learned about the Food and Drug Administration-approved device, he recalled thinking, "If the cap's going to make me live longer, I'll shave my head and we'll do what we have to do."

Along with Optune, Nicholas continues getting platelet transfusions and white blood cell shots to boost his immune system. His blood work is checked every two weeks now and he has scans on his brain every six weeks.

"That's really in my life the only time that I really get an active reminder that I have brain cancer," he said on the scans. "Those couple days between getting your MRI ... and your doctor calling you back are probably the more nerve wracking days of your month."

He said he is aware of warnings from doctors about the unpredictability of the tumor.

"It could go away ... you don't have anything for 10 years, and then 10 years down the road, something pops up and you have a recurrence of all these cancer cells ... or it could be really quick. But what they do know is that right now ... it will come back."

Reardon said glioblastoma differs from other aggressive cancers because it does not metastasize throughout other body systems.

"Although we don't have to worry about the cancer spreading to the lungs, or bones, or lymph nodes, or the liver -- other organs in the body -- it does microscopically spread outwards," he said.

"The main mass that we can see on an MRI scan of the patient when they come in with their deficits or headache procedure, we see a localized mass on the MRI scan, extending outwardly from the mass are microscopic infiltrative cells that are moving outward into the adjacent brain tissues," he continued. "So although it doesn't metastasize and spread out of the brain, it does spread within the brain itself."

Life as a father and husband with brain cancer

Choosing to have a family, Nicholas says, was one of the biggest decisions he made in prioritizing living over his diagnosis.

"I didn't really know if I wanted to go through with getting married and put my wife [through becoming] a widow and have a daughter and let her grow up without dad if things went south or how they said it's supposed to go," he said. "It was kind of my first leap of faith that I'm going to live my life and live without boundaries and not let cancer take me a day before."

"I believe if I would have said, 'Hey, I don't want to have a baby or anything,' just the stuff that me and my wife kind of planned for -- that we knew we both wanted -- then I'd be letting cancer win that battle of me living my life," he added.

Daniel said she was hesitant to have a child because of her worries about her husband's illness. "I don't want to do this by myself," she remembered thinking. However, she said she and her husband built an even stronger bond early on through their struggles.

"Having such a big test early on in our marriage ... we kind of built the foundation that we're going to stick through this and stick together and whatever comes our way we can figure it out because we've been figuring it out ever since then," she said.

The couple welcomed their daughter Riyah in November 2018, and Daniel said their little girl and her father are inseparable.

"He was more excited, I think, to be a dad, especially when she was born," she said. "I work usually outside of the home, so he's the one that's here with her during the day. He does everything -- meals, diapers. I credit him with her learning how to walk and talk because I wasn't there and she was home with him."

"She's his little roadie, she goes everywhere with him," Daniel added. "They go on hikes, to shopping, to his friends' houses. Anywhere he goes, she goes and he is an amazingly doting father."

After retiring from the police force in October 2019, Nicholas said he has time to devote to his daughter.

"I just try to even think of it this way -- even if I do go in five years, six years, which I'm hoping I don't ... there are kids out there and little daughters out there that don't have many days with their father -- and he's alive. So I say, hey, now I can give her all my time," he said.

"I'm sure there's going to come a time when she's going to ask about everything, and I think I'm just going to keep it frank and honest because I think that's the best way to go about it," he added.

He said he has trouble putting the joys of fatherhood into words and encourages anyone considering having children to do so, with or without illness.

"If you're thinking about it, no matter how bad it is ... it'll be all right," he said. "Whether you're here or not -- just don't let don't let cancer dictate the rest of your life before it has to."

Nicholas is also fortunate to have parents supporting him at all times, he said.

"My mom and dad, they've been to every appointment. They also have been rocks in my life as far as just opening my eyes to just surviving really," he said.

His two siblings, Javier Nicholas, 30, and Nadya Hall, 34, have been with him throughout his fight as well.

His older brother Javier Nicholas said he's "extremely proud" of Osmond.

"He could have given up and nobody would be able to fault him for that, but he never did," he said. "His life changed forever in one day and he has always handled it like a warrior. He's my hero and an inspiration to those fighting their battle with brain cancer. As his brother, I love him and am truly inspired by his determination and grit."

Along with relying on the support of his family, Osmond Nicholas also uses music as an outlet to cope with his pain.

"Once I got out of the hospital and was able to play, it just took me away from the diagnosis for a moment and got me into a different zone of saying just appreciate the music and appreciate that you're here and you can still do the things you love to do," he said.

He said he now shares videos of his guitar playing on Instagram to bring hope to others who might also be fighting glioblastoma.

"I put up more videos not because I think I'm the best guitarist, trust me, I know I'm not, but because I know there's somebody else with glioblastoma, or whatever type of cancer ... that can get encouraged. Because I do think your attitude makes up a lot of how you fare because your mental health needs to be right," he said.

"I don't like to post too many sad things -- not that they don't happen -- but I think it just could be an inspiration that hey, if this guy with a brain tumor is enjoying life, what do we really have to be upset about?" he said.

Raising awareness and living every day to the fullest

The month of May is National Brain Cancer Awareness month, and Nicholas said he believes there is a desperate need for more awareness around brain cancer, specifically glioblastoma.

"I don't think many people think of, know what a glioblastoma is or really know much about brain cancers in general," he said.

Nicholas said living with brain cancer gives him the responsibility to share his story and hopes others battling the disease will do the same.

"I'm always going to be an ambassador for it," he said of his illness. "I just think speaking out on it would help out and then being as active as you can, whether it's to your hospitals or down to the senators to get money because funding is where big things actually happen."

Vogelbaum said research for glioblastoma treatment is difficult for several reasons.

"There's really no other area of cancer drug development where you don't take samples of treated tissue to understand what the treatment is doing," he said. "It's harder for us to do that in glioblastoma patients, but that is still necessary nonetheless."

He said "direct delivery of therapeutics to the brain" is also necessary.

"There needs to be an understanding that there is no way to establish a timeline to success in any field of medicine, particularly in cancer," he explained.

Vogelbaum said that in past decades, melanoma was the other untreatable cancer that produced many "terrible and unpredictable outcomes."

"Then along came immunotherapy and targeted therapy, BRAF targeted therapy, and that's completely changed the way that we approach melanoma, to the point where for many patients now it's a very treatable disease," he continued. "That happened in a very short time when there were a lot of other things have been tried and failed. Eventually, the right thing was found. We have to have the same kind of optimistic approach to glioblastoma."

He said researchers must continue to keep trying new approaches to further understand the biology of this cancer.

Nicholas' diagnosis has completely changed his perspective on life.

"I've become a little more introspective and just become much more at peace with life in general," he said. "Some people focus on, 'Oh, I just want to live to 100 years' and all that. I feel like being diagnosed with glioblastoma ... I just want to live to have a great day today and live as long as I can. Just to take advantage of that."

His illness has also reinforced his understanding of the fragility of life.

"The only thing I can guarantee is that we're all going to die, so use what you have," he added. "There's a little thing that we used in the brain tumor group, we call like, 'the best group that we never want to ever be a part of,' and I totally wouldn't want to be a part of this group if I could not, but since I am, it has changed my life."

"I don't think I see things rosier, but I think I see it more as the perspective of it all comes back to -- you can die any day, so live your life for each day, every day," he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) — Guidance on non-essential travel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not relaxed because summer is upon us. "Travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19," the agency notes on its website. "Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick."

But with states across the country reopening and more Americans leaving home than they were in early April, it's all but inevitable that some will test the waters with a vacation or weekend away this summer, even if those trips look different than in previous years.

Can Americans vacation safely during a pandemic?

Experts say there's no way to completely eliminate your risk of contracting COVID-19 while traveling. But there are precautions you can take to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19 or sickening others while vacationing.

First the ground rules. If you're leaving your community, never travel if you are sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC warns. Similarly, you shouldn't travel with anyone who is sick or who has been exposed to the virus.

And if you're coming from a high-transmission area, there's a chance you might be an asymptomatic carrier. Take extra precautions to avoid spreading the virus to an area that hasn't seen many cases yet.

Spontaneity is not your friend this summer.

Bring a face mask to wear in public places. Plan ahead by packing food and water, in case restaurants and stores are closed, as well as enough hand sanitizer and medicine to last you for your entire trip. Check the guidance of the state and local health departments in your planned destination and along your route before you leave. State or local governments may have stay-at-home orders in effect, mandated quarantines upon arrival (Hawaii for instance), or checkpoints at state borders. Follow those instructions accordingly.

Will this be a normal summer? "Definitely not," said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"And it also shouldn’t be," he added.

With those basics in mind, here's how you can vacation as safely as possible this summer, experts say.

At the beach or park:

Since the virus that causes COVID-19 is harder to transmit outdoors, outside spaces, including beaches, parks and hiking trails are good options for Americans who have been cooped up in their homes in apartments all spring.

But since those areas can also easily become crowded, it's still important to stay 6 feet from others and practice social distancing, even while outdoors. Practice universal mask wearing when social distancing is not possible.

Many popular national parks that closed in response to COVID-19 are reopening, which worries advocates, who are concerned about an influx of out-of-state visitors and limited park staff trying to enforce social distancing.

The risk of crowding is real, Allen explained, and Americans should be prepared for it.

"The burden is not just not the parks and park rangers, but it’s also on people," he added. Maintain physical distance between yourself and others, and if you need to pass within 6 feet of someone, put your mask on.

The same goes for beaches, most of which haven't previously had to manage flows of people the way that parks have. Beaches may want to set up walking lanes, so that people aren't threading through blankets at close range and reduce available parking spaces to limit density on the beach. Many places with beaches are already taking action to reduce density.

If crowded beaches need to turn visitors away, Americans should accept that they may not be able to go to their favorite beach on a certain day, Allen explained.

"We should view loosened restrictions on parks and beaches as a privilege that will be revoked if crowds don't act appropriately," he said.

"People are going to have to act responsibly," he added.

As for the ocean itself, experts are say that the risk lies with transmission between people. There's no evidence that the virus can be transmitted through water.

At the pool:

The CDC has new guidance for using public pools as swimming facilities across the country begin to reopen for the summer.

While on the pool deck, bathers should keep their masks on and avoid gathering in groups, according to the CDC. Lifeguards should focus exclusively on water safety, and other staff members should be assigned to enforce social distancing rules.

If you visit a public pool, stay 6 feet from others on the pool deck. While swimming, remain 6 feet away from anyone you don't live with.

The only time you should take off your mask is while you're in the water.

"Cloth face coverings can be difficult to breathe through when they're wet," the agency said in its recommendation.

Again, there is no evidence of transmission of the virus through water and public pools are generally chlorinated.

When renting a car, boat, hotel room or AirBnB:

Do your research. Call ahead and ask what the company or host is doing to sanitize between guests.

"What special precautions are they taking?" asked Jack Caravanos, a clinical professor of environmental public health sciences at NYU's School of Global Public Health. Compare options and choose the company you feel most comfortable with from a safety and hygiene prospective.

Specifically, you should ask about COVID-19-specific changes to the company's cleaning practices, which a representative or the company website should be able to explain in detail. Outwardly visible signs that they went above and beyond a typical cleaning, like hand sanitizer or wipes in cars, are a good sign.

If you're renting a car or a boat, you may choose to wipe the surfaces down yourself, too. As for airing out a rental car for 30 minutes before getting into it, "that's probably overkill," Caravanos said.

You should similarly research rental companies if you plan to rent a boat, according to U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Adam Chamie, a commanding officer in Key West, Florida.

"I would do your due diligence in renting a boat, the same way you would with a hotel room," he explained.

In any situation, think about whether you'll be able to socially distance with ease. A sunset catamaran sail with 100 people? Not a good idea. A fishing charter with family members, on the other hand, may be able to be done safely. Be careful not to crowd spaces where boaters may gather, like marinas, and wear your face mask if you'll be within 6 feet of others.

He also warned against tying boats together to socialize.

"Would you raft-up your table together in restaurant with 10 other strangers?" Chamie asked. "The virus can be spread on the water between boaters who know each other, just like it can at a restaurant or grocery story, or on the streets of Brooklyn, " he said.

"It does't go away just because we’re on the water or on vacation.”

When looking for a rest stop:

Rest stops are high-risk areas, according to Caravanos. Like airports, they may include crowds of people traveling from different areas.

When looking for a rest stop, large open bathrooms with plenty of airflow may be a better option than an often-used gas station with a single toilet, Caravanos explained.

As always maintain social distancing, wear a face mask and practice proper handwashing. "That triad is a requirement," he added.

If you're flying:

If you choose to fly, both Caravanos and Allen said your exposure risk is greater at the airport and during transit to the airport than on the plane itself.

Wash your hands often during your trip, keep 6 feet from others at the airport, if possible, and wipe down your seat and tray. Wear a mask the whole time. Masks generally help to protect others from you, but N95 masks, if worn properly, can help protect you as well.

Traveling from an outbreak hotspot to a place with few infections:

If the virus is spreading in your community, "be mindful that you might be a carrier," warned Allen. If you're traveling from a COVID-19 hotspot, like New York City or Chicago, you could unknowingly spread the virus to an area that doesn't have a large outbreak yet.

Heed the guidance state and local health departments are putting out for visitors from other states. In Massachusetts, for example, people traveling from out of state are "instructed" to quarantine for 14 days. A Vermont mandate requires that out-of-stater travelers quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and should not go out for groceries, walks, hikes or bike rides.

"People have to abide by these rules themselves," Allen said. "It’s a social trust moment.”

If you or a loved one is in a high-risk category:

Everything changes if you, or a family member or partner you'd normally travel with, is in a high-risk category for contracting a severe case of COVID-19. For individuals with underlying conditions, especially older Americans, COVID-19 can be especially deadly.

"I don't think the risk is very high, but the consequences are high. I’m not sure this is the time for family reunion in Vermont with a lot of people," Caravanos said.

For older individuals and high-risk groups, he added, "I would say, sit it out."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- As many as 20 states across the country are reporting a rapid decrease in the number of children receiving their routine vaccinations over the past few months, according to a nationwide survey conducted by ABC News.

The sudden decline comes as many Americans are fearful to visit their doctors' offices for routine check-ups amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

ABC News reached out to health officials in all 50 states, and every one of the 20 states that responded and said they had relevant data available, from California to North Carolina, said they were seeing at least some sort of decrease in vaccination rates and vaccine orders -- including some with drastic, worrying slumps.

It isn’t only health officials that are concerned. As parents worry for their children's safety, physicians say the lack of vaccinations could lead to a resurgence in usually preventable or managed conditions like mumps or the seasonal flu when the nation is already struggling with a deadly pandemic.

Dr. Sara Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a private practice pediatrician in Georgia, told ABC News, “My own volumes had been down 40% and on average 40 to 50% in other parts of the nation.”

“Our greatest fear is to have a vaccine preventable outbreak. That would be devastating to families and our nation. We are making a big effort to tell patients we are open and safe but have a long way to go," she said.

Joan Alker, the executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, warned the drop in vaccinations might lead to "mini epidemics" of other childhood diseases, such as measles.

"And this fall, it will be critical to ensure that kids and adults get flu shots when another wave of COVID is expected," Alker added.

The American Academy of Pediatrics this week launched a digital marketing campaign, “Call Your Pediatrician,” to urge parents to get caught up on their vaccines.

"The parents are really scared in many ways," said Dr. Francis DeVito, a pediatrician in Brooklyn, New York, who said he has seen a 75% decrease in the number of in-office patients seen.

"Even for well care visits, when they do show up, there is a reluctance by the parents to vaccinate because they worry if there is a reaction 'what do we do?'” Dr. DeVito said. “They fear what if I have to go to a hospital, an emergency room. It's our job to reassure them there is no difference than before, and these current vaccines are less reactogenic then those of decades in the past.”

In New York City, there’s been a 42% drop in the number of vaccinations administered for children two years old and younger, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and a shocking 91% drop in vaccination rates for children over the age of two.

“I'll give you a comparison. The same six-week period of time last year, 2019, almost 400,000 [vaccine] doses were administered in this city,” de Blasio said on Wednesday. “In the six-week period this year, fewer than 150,000. So, something has to be done immediately to address this.”

De Blasio also emphasized that the drop in vaccination rates is especially dangerous this year. Non-vaccinated children are at greater risk of contracting respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and are therefore more “vulnerable” both to COVID-19 and MIS-C, the rare new inflammatory illness in children.

Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said “there is nothing that we do for children that has more proven health value than getting them fully vaccinated on time.”

“While we are all hoping for the development of a safe and effective vaccine against the new coronavirus, we can’t let our guard down against the diseases for which we currently have vaccines. Measles, whooping cough, and polio are just a few diseases that we rarely see because of the miracle of vaccination,” said Besser, who was formerly ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor.

But multiple states are experiencing the same downward trend in the exact time that experts say vaccines are more important than ever.

Pennsylvania has seen a 76% decrease in vaccinations in children ages four to six compared with the previous four-year average, according to Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Vaccinations in children ages 11-18 are down 72%. And Delaware has seen a 52% drop in child vaccinations administered in April 2020 compared to April 2019, Mat Marshall, a spokesperson for the Delaware Department of Justice, told ABC News.

Maryland, California, Idaho, Arkansas, Connecticut and North Carolina have all reported significant decreases during the same time period. The number of doses in Maryland has decreased by 56%; in California, the number of shots given to children up to 18 years of age has plummeted by more than 40%.

“We are very concerned about the significant drop in immunization rates, particularly for children,” said Kelly Haight, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, where HPV vaccinations, which prevent cervical cancer and are recommended by the CDC for children aged 11 and 12, in the state are down 72% compared to last year.

Officials in Oregon reported they saw a drop in immunizations for all age groups initially with the pandemic, “but a quick recovery for infant immunization.” However, vaccination rates for older kids, teens and adults has been “slow to recover, if at all.”

“HPV immunization rates have tanked, and show little improvement,” Jonathan Modie, a spokesperson for the Oregon Health Authority, told ABC News. “We also preliminary indications that maternal immunization rates for Tdap, intended to protect newborns against pertussis, may also have nose-dived with a slow recovery."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed concern over parents not keeping their children’s immunizations up to date and said the state is also experiencing a decline.

“The surgeon general of Florida is a pediatrician, it’s something he will bring to my attention often because we have seen measles outbreaks in different parts of the country just before all this started and so if you’re not keeping up on that, that’s a problem,” DeSantis said last week.

Some parents, though, said they are torn.

“The first time we went I think it was still too early to really be apprehensive. The second time I was definitely more cognizant of the situation, but went in with a mask on. They had plastic barriers up around the reception area,” said Jessica Weisensell, a first-time mom from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who said her pediatrician’s office was taking temperatures upon arrival and instead of a long wait they were quickly seen. “They were definitely doing everything they could to put everyone at ease.”

Others are saying they are going to wait.

“I don't think there could possibly be a place more germy, despite their best efforts, than a pediatrician's office,” said Kathleen Shortis, a mother of five from Long Island, New York, who canceled the last round of visits and vaccinations for her children.

“The kids aren't going anywhere, school is canceled for the year, there will be plenty of time to catch up when the kids are allowed out and about before they're in large groups again,” Shortis said.

DeVito told ABC News he worries most about the fall as parents become concerned about the upcoming flu season and the demand for vaccines increases.

"In the fall with flu season there is going to be a huge demand and it's actually really unfair to parents and their pediatricians to try and satisfy the necessary requirements for vaccinations in a very condensed time-frame because when people will feel safe to go out and then oh wait school is starting in two weeks. Another panic could ensue,” he said.

Leaders are starting to try and change the trend. Six major hospitals in Los Angeles announced on Thursday they are working on a public outreach campaign to encourage people to go to the doctor, especially to get childhood vaccinations. In New York City, Mayor de Blasio also announced the city would be offering free vaccinations at over 1,000 locations.

The CDC guidance says it is critical for parents to maintain vaccinations as the coronavirus pandemic continues because as states across the country begin to reopen, children may be more at risk without the proper vaccinations.

“As social distancing requirements are relaxed, children who are not protected by vaccines will be more vulnerable to diseases such as measles," the CDC says.

Yet for those who fear going to a doctor’s office right now, some experts say there are creative solutions.

Dr. Julia Skapik, medical director for the National Association of Community Health Centers, says their members in underserved communities are getting creative to meet patients where they are to deliver vaccinations, including empty parking lots.

“I think the public is not fully aware there are preventive services that are recommended for children during this time and how to do it safely," she told ABC News.

"Every pharmacy provides access to vaccines, and those should be utilized to create convenience and limit exposure for children as opposed to a clinical setting," said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor who also helps run The website provides individuals with information about the locations of vaccines based on their needs.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ivanko_Brnjakovic/iStockBy BECKY WORLEY and SARAH MESSER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- For many, summer is usually spent among friends and family at barbecues or bon fires. And for kids out of school, it usually means daytime play dates with pals.

However, with the coronavirus pandemic, summer looks a bit different this year, and has forced many families to change their plans.

But one virus researcher who lives in a state that’s already opened up may give us a clue as to what the next phases of socializing may look like.

"I'm an extrovert," said Dr. Colleen Kraft, who is an infectious disease physician and microbiologist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and a mother of three in Georgia. She said that she understands the need for in-person socializing, especially for kids, and added, "I think it's really important but everybody is weathering this storm differently."

Kraft was a doctor in the front lines during the fight against Ebola and now she's doing the same during the coronavirus pandemic. She has seen how coronavirus has ravaged communities, but she also knows that people need people.

"I think some of the scenes I've seen on television of bars and very busy restaurants makes me anxious," she said. "I get to be witness to people being very sick from this virus and it's serious."

Since the pandemic began, she's taken extra precautions to keep her family safe and has also leaned on a limited number of close friends she's called her "Quaranteam" or "Coronavirus Circle," made up of people who are healthy and who are taking similar safety measures that she and her family sees in person while practicing social distancing.

"Who you feel comfortable having your family and children around because they share the same prevention tactics," Kraft described.

While Kraft socializes outside at a distance with her quaranteam, she is more conservative in other activities. She told ABC News she isn’t yet comfortable going to the gym, the mall, getting her nails done or letting children play at the park. She also keeps trips outside the house to a minimum, including trips to places like the grocery store, and she wears a mask.

"We have a very small circle of people we interact with," she said, explaining that this allows her kids to have play dates and lets the kids play games that don’t have physical contact.

For the adults in her group, she hosts "the six-foot hang out," which separates everyone into groups, all six feet apart, allowing them to spend time together without masks.

"Even when interacting with them, we don't spend a lot of time you know, and it's always outside," she said.

Experts advise no one in the group should have underlying medical conditions and it’s important to note that in many states these gatherings are still not allowed, and even in Georgia groups of 10 or more are not permitted to gather unless they can social distance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advises against it.

While Kraft does still have small gatherings with her coronavirus circle friends, she assured that they all do everything they can to stay safe, and don't even share food or utensils.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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