February 23, 2021
Special Report on Coronavirus
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On the Front Lines
Weekly roundup: Health and wellness highlights
Taking a look at health and wellness during COVID-19, here are some top stories from last week. For more health and wellness news, subscribe to AHIP Wellness SmartBrief.
Around 40% of people are suffering from sleep problems, double the percentage who had trouble sleeping prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The issue may result from disruptions in the normal social cues that influence humans' internal clocks, sleep medicine physician Joshua Roland, M.D., tells WREG-TV of Memphis, Tenn. To encourage healthful sleep patterns, experts recommend limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, taking daily walks and avoiding looking at screens close to bedtime.
Full Story: WREG-TV (Memphis, Tenn.)/CBS Newspath (2/10) 
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Hewlett Packard has begun offering an online employee wellness benefit that teaches participants how to grow an organic garden of vegetables and fruit. Webinars, Q&A sessions and other tools engage participants and promote mental wellness and healthy eating habits.
Full Story: Employee Benefit News (free registration) (2/16) 
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Would you take a virtual gardening class if your employer offered it?
VoteI'm not sure.
Leading Through Uncertainty
Only 40% of Americans are enthusiastic about receiving a coronavirus vaccine, with another 20% willing to take it if others are inoculated first, research shows. As vaccine supplies ramp up, convincing the other 40% of people to get the shot will be the next big challenge to ending the pandemic. Campaigns to counter vaccine hesitancy are crucial, experts say, and leaders must meet people where they are, work to build trust and serve as role models to encourage vaccination among reluctant communities.
Full Story: Axios (2/20),  Vox (2/22),  WFYI-TV/WFYI-FM (Indianapolis) (2/19),  CBS News (2/21) 
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Is it time to return to the office -- and if so, how?
Research suggests that employers and their teams have different visions of the post-pandemic workplace, and must work together to create a situation that is mutually acceptable. Leaders asking staff to return to the office should be clear and consistent in their communication, prioritize rapid testing and develop a plan to protect employees' health -- including penalties for rule-breakers. It's also important to have a "re-exit" plan, should caseloads spike.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (2/19),  Inc. (tiered subscription model) (2/22),  Fortune (tiered subscription model) (2/17) 
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A fear of needles may keep some people from getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, but there are healthy and effective ways to cope with the phobia and still receive the shot. Jessica Wadium of the Mayo Clinic Health System suggests relaxing muscles while taking deep breaths, deciding whether to watch the injection or be distracted from it, and sharing inoculation preferences with the medical team.
Full Story: La Crosse Tribune (Wis.) (2/16) 
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Creative Solutions
COVID-19 efforts get an artificial intelligence boost
Researchers at MIT are working on ways to apply machine learning to discover which existing drugs might be used to effectively treat COVID-19, while hospitals in Europe and the US are using artificial intelligence to help doctors improve their bedside manners. Data scientist Youyang Gu has used algorithms to create a more accurate model of coronavirus cases and death rates, while authorities in Kazakhstan are using an AI-powered chatbot to counter vaccine misinformation that is hampering inoculation efforts in the country.
Full Story: Health IT Analytics (2/16),  The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (2/16),  Bloomberg (2/19),  Thomson Reuters Foundation (2/19) 
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What's Ahead?
Some of the dining habits established during the pandemic are likely to persist after it subsides, with only 23% of respondents in a Bluedot survey saying they would completely return to their pre-coronavirus ways. Delivery-only "ghost kitchens" from independent restaurateurs and big brands are popping up to fill rising demand for restaurant food at home, and some startups are challenging established players in the food-delivery space, charging restaurants lower commissions and fees and allowing restaurant owners to organize deliveries themselves.
Full Story: QSR magazine online (2/16),  The Associated Press (2/17),  The Wall Street Journal (2/21) 
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Your Take
Will COVID-19 have an effect on property prices in 2021?
Too early to tell.
I don't know.
Did You Know?
Low housing inventory is raising real estate stakes
Real estate agents across the country are reporting a dramatic increase in sight-unseen home purchases, as tech-savvy young home buyers opt to checking out listings, negotiate prices and secure mortgages online amid the pandemic. The popularity of virtual home tours has spiked as a growing number of people opt for suburban homes instead of downtown apartments while working remotely. And with demand climbing, buyers are committing to purchases without doing their due diligence -- which doesn't always work out as well as they'd hoped.
Full Story: Wilmington Biz (N.C.) (2/19),  The New York Times (2/19),  Boston/The Boston Globe (2/17) 
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Heroes in the time of COVID-19
This week's nomination: Feed Our Rural Kids 

Nonprofit Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK) is teaming up with the Weekend Backpack Program to provide food for students in Wisconsin's Phelps School District. The program provides a weekend's worth of meals for students to take home when they do not have access to school meals, and any student in the district can sign up for the food by asking a teacher or front office staff member -- and no paperwork is required, said Andrea Fluegel, coordinator of the Weekend Backpack Program. Submitted by Paula Kiger, SmartBrief nonprofit sector editor.

We are asking readers to send us an email about someone who is making a difference by uplifting their business, workplace, school or community during the pandemic. Please tell us in no more than 100 words why you think this person is an unsung hero. What has this person done to have an impact on others during the pandemic?
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You have to take a hard core stance between what you can and cannot do so that you are okay. You cannot save the entire world until you save yourself.
Suze Orman,
Personal finance expert, on lessons the pandemic offers
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