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FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for Children 12 to 15

Vaccinating children is crucial to building up population levels of immunity and curtailing the spread of the coronavirus. Though children spread the virus less efficiently than adults do, they make up about 23 percent of the population.

Experts have said that the country is unlikely to reach the “herd immunity” threshold — the point at which virus transmission essentially stalls — but vaccinating children will be important for getting as close as possible.

Ty Dropic, 14, one of the trial participants, urged others his age to be vaccinated so they could build up widespread immunity and protect themselves. He had no side effects, leading him to suspect that he got the placebo. If that turns out to be the case, he plans to be immunized as soon as possible.

“I know it can be kind of scary, but it’s really not as bad as it seems,” he said. “If you do get Covid, it’ll be a lot worse than getting stuck with a needle for, like, two seconds.”

Ty’s three siblings, ages 8, 10 and 16, are also enrolled in vaccine trials for their age groups. Their mother, Dr. Amanda Dropic, a pediatrician in northern Kentucky, said that in her practice, most parents were eager to have their children vaccinated so they could regain some semblance of normalcy.

“The anxiety and depression that we’re seeing with kids, the social delays, has been tremendous,” she said.

Dr. Dropic said her children understood the risks and were willing to volunteer because they saw it as a civic duty. Every medicine available today came to be because “somebody was willing to go first,” she added.

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Pharmacies Are Entering the Mental Health Market

CVS, which merged with the insurance provider Aetna three years ago, aims to reduce overall health costs with its mental health pilot program, Dr. Knecht said. Mental health issues that are not addressed become crises, he added, “so our aspiration is to make mental health services accessible and locally available so we can address these issues before they continue to expand and result in substantial morbidity and poor outcomes.”

Removing obstacles to mental health care by making providers more accessible is helpful, said Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, “but they are never the No. 1 barrier to accessing treatment,” she said. “Cost is.”

Psychiatrists are less likely to take insurance than other types of physicians, and many psychologists, social workers and others who offer therapy likewise decline insurance because they say payments by insurers are relatively low and managed care companies sometimes subject them to intrusive audits.

The mental health services provided by the CVS MinuteClinics are covered by many major health insurers and Employee Assistance Program plans, a spokeswoman said.

“Pricing options without insurance range between $129 for an initial assessment to $69 for a 30-minute session, with many options in between,” she added.

At Walmart, the initial therapy session is $60 and the 45-minute follow-up sessions cost $45, according to the company’s website.

If you’re considering using a retail location to receive therapy, be sure to ask the same questions you would of any new therapist, experts advise. Some examples include:

  • Where were you trained?

  • What kind of license do you have?

  • What is your specialty?

  • How will we monitor my progress?

  • How long will my session last, and how many sessions are available to me?

  • Is there follow-through if I need a referral?

  • How much will this cost?

  • How will my data be stored and shared?

In addition, if you identify as L.G.B.T. or are a member of another minority group — or if you already know that you suffer from a particular condition like anxiety or depression — it’s helpful to know whether the therapist has worked with similar populations in the past and whether they have had cultural competence training, said Alfiee Breland-Noble, a health disparities researcher and founder of the AAKOMA Project, a mental health nonprofit for teenagers and their families.

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The Stock Market Loves Biden More Than Trump. So Far, at Least.

From the moment he was elected president in 2016 through his failed campaign for re-election, Donald J. Trump invoked the stock market as a report card on the presidency.

The market loved him, Mr. Trump said, and it hated Democrats, particularly his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr. During the presidential debate in October, Mr. Trump warned of Mr. Biden: “If he’s elected, the market will crash.” In a variety of settings, he said that Democrats would be a disaster and that a victory for them would set off “a depression,” which would make the stock market “disintegrate.”

So far, it hasn’t turned out that way.

To the extent that the Dow Jones industrial average measures the stock market’s affection for a president, its early report card says the market loves President Biden’s first days in office considerably more than it loved those of President Trump.

Mr. Biden would get an A for this early period; Mr. Trump would receive a B for the market performance during his first days as president, though he would get a higher mark for much of the rest of his term.

signs that the United States is recovering briskly from the pandemic, early returns for Mr. Biden’s actual time in office have also been exceptional. The stock market’s rise from its close on Inauguration Day to its close on Thursday marked the best start for any presidency since that of another Democrat, Lyndon B. Johnson.

For those too young to remember the awful day of Nov. 22, 1963, Johnson, the vice president, was sworn in as president that afternoon after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Measuring stock market performance from the end of the day they were all sworn into office allows us to include Johnson as well as Theodore Roosevelt, who became president on Sept. 14, 1901, after President William McKinley died of gunshot wounds.

The Republican Party has long claimed that it is the party of business, and that Republican rule is better for stocks. But the historical record demonstrates that the market has generally performed better under Democratic presidents since the start of the 20th century.

Over all, the market under President Biden ranks third for all presidents during a comparable time in office since 1901, according to a tally through Thursday (the Biden administration’s 109th day) by Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group.

These are the top performers:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, inaugurated March 4, 1933: 78.1 percent.

  • Johnson, inaugurated Nov. 22, 1963: 13.8 percent.

  • Mr. Biden, inaugurated Jan. 20, 2021: 10.8 percent.

  • William H. Taft, inaugurated March 4, 1909: 9.6 percent.

Note that three of the top four — Roosevelt, Johnson and Mr. Biden — were Democrats. That fits an apparent pattern. Since 1900, the median stock market gain for Democrats for the start of their presidencies is 7.9 percent; for Republicans, only 2.7 percent.

cited an investment analysis that suggested the stock market might perform quite well in a Biden presidency, despite Mr. Trump’s claims to the contrary. Those factors included more vigorous and efficient management of the coronavirus crisis, which would promote economic recovery and corporate profits; generous fiscal stimulus programs, with the possibility of colossal infrastructure-building; a return to international engagement accompanied by a reduction in trade friction; and a renewal of America’s global climate-change commitments.

So far, that analysis is holding up. But will it lead to strong returns through the Biden administration?

I have no idea. Alas, none of this tells us where the stock market is heading. All we know is that it has risen more than it has fallen over the long run, but has moved fairly randomly, day to day, and has sometimes veered into long declines. Another decline could happen at any time, regardless of what any president does.

The only approach to investing I’d actively embrace is passive: using low-cost stock and bond index funds to build a well-diversified portfolio and hang on for the long run. And I’d try to ignore the exhortations of politicians, especially those who would tie their own electoral fortunes to the performance of the stock market.

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Many Families Torn Apart at the Southern Border Face a Long and Uncertain Wait

HUEHUETENANGO, Guatemala — In a small village in the Guatemalan highlands, a father smiled into the tiny screen of a cellphone and held up a soccer jersey for the camera, pointing to the name emblazoned on the back: Adelso.

In Boca Raton, Fla., on the other end of the video chat, his son — Adelso — started to cry.

“I’ll send it to you,” the father, David, said during the call in March. “You need to be strong. We’re going to hug and talk together again. Everything’s going to be fine.”

migrant children who are in the United States but separated from their parents, according to lawyers working on the issue. There are at least another 445 who were taken from parents who have not been located.

The separated families received a jolt of hope in early February when President Biden signed an executive order to reunify the migrant families by bringing the deported parents into the United States.

This week, as migrant apprehensions at the southwest border approach a near 20-year high, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would bring a handful of separated parents to the U.S. in the coming days. The process of reunifying them all could take months or years, and questions remain about what benefits will be offered to each of those families.

Adelso has lived the last three years with his aunt, Teresa Quiñónez, in Boca Raton, Fla., where she works as a real estate agent. She had come to the United States herself at 17, without her parents.

a 2020 investigation by Physicians for Human Rights, many children separated from a parent at the border exhibited symptoms and behavior consistent with trauma: post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. In some cases, the trauma stemmed partly from experiences in the child’s home country, but researchers found it was likely linked to the separation itself.

Dr. Falcón-Banchs currently treats eight children between the ages of 6 and 16 who were separated from a parent in 2017 and 2018. Five of those children received a diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety and-or depression. Adelso is faring better and has shown resilience and coping skills, she said.

In one case, a boy from Honduras who is now 13 suffered severe anxiety and PTSD after being separated from his mother for several months and placed in foster care. Being reunited with her didn’t improve his condition right away, Falcón-Banchs said.

“When his mom first took him to school in the U.S., his brain responded in such a way that he began screaming and panicking and wanted to leave,” she said. “When he was separated, he was told that he was ‘lost in the system’ and wouldn’t be able to be reunited with his mom. So he was just crying, perhaps because of that association.”

the Trump administration did not track after separation.

And many families whose whereabouts were known have since moved or changed phone numbers, compounding the challenge of possible reunification.

Further complicating the task is that most migrants come from Central America, and three countries there — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have experienced lockdowns during the pandemic, as well as widespread internal displacement from two hurricanes, Eta and Iota.

“We must find every last family and will not stop until we do,” said Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney for immigrant rights at the A.C.L.U.

But the process has been “extremely difficult and slow,” he said, adding that “many of the parents can only be found through on-the-ground searches.”

During a visit to a small Guatemalan town, a Times reporter learned of three parents who said they were forcibly separated from their children by U.S. border officials in 2018 and then deported. Two had already made the perilous return trip to the U.S., spending $15,000 on a journey to reunite with their children in Florida.

“They returned for the kids, because they were left alone there,” said Eusevia Quiñónez, whose husband, Juan Bernardo, left with his older brother for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 8. “Thank God, they arrived OK.”

Another father, Melvin Jacinto, was contacted by KIND, a children’s defense group, more than a year ago, but he doubts they will be able to help him. He again wants to try to enter the United States to reunite with his son, Rosendo, in Minneapolis and to find work to support his family. He said talking on the phone with his son, who turned 18 last month and from whom he has been separated for three years, is emotionally difficult for him. He can’t help but cry.

“It’s like I’m traumatized or something,” Mr. Jacinto said. “I’m not good. I don’t sleep, not at all.”

Psychologists working with separated families say that family reunification is just one step in the healing process, and that the parents have as much need for mental health counseling as the children. Many parents blame themselves for the separation, and after reunification the children, too, often blame the parents.

David, who has suffered from stress-induced gastritis and other health complications since the separation, said he had also considered hiring a smuggler to get back to the U.S. to reunite with Adelso.

“I need to see my son,” he said. “And he needs me.”

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College Accounts at Birth: State Efforts Raise New Hopes

Braylon Dedmon was 3 days old when his mother, Talasheia, was offered $1,000 to open a college savings account in his name.

“I was like, ‘What?’” Ms. Dedmon recalled. Her skeptic’s antennae tingled. “I was a little scared.” Was this a scam?

It wasn’t. The offer was the beginning of a far-reaching research project begun in Oklahoma 14 years ago to study whether creating savings accounts for newborns would improve their graduation rates and their chances of going to college or trade school years later.

A few weeks after that initial conversation in 2007, the first statement arrived, showing $1,000 in Braylon’s name. “I was shocked,” said Ms. Dedmon, who now lives in Muskogee. “They started sending me statements every three months, and have been sending me them since then.”

Research about the Oklahoma project published this month by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, which created SEED OK, found that families that had been given accounts were more college-focused and contributed more of their own money than those that hadn’t been. And the effects are strongest among low-income families.

The approach breaks with most social policy programs created over the last half-century, which focus on income supplements. Child savings accounts, by contrast, concentrate on accumulating assets over the long term.

Michael Sherraden, the founder of the center at Washington University, said the idea was to give everyone a stake — an investment — in the future. Benefits of the program extend not just to bank accounts but also to behavior. Households with the seed money — especially poorer ones with parents who did not attend college — have greater expectations about higher education, are more optimistic, have lower rates of depression and save more.

College savings accounts known as 529 plans, which restrict withdrawals and grow tax-free, are used by only a tiny share of American households, mostly in the upper reaches of the income ladder.

Assets and the Poor,” has been pushing for savings accounts, also known as development accounts, that would automatically be opened for every child born in the United States. Canada, Israel, South Korea and Singapore have established versions of the idea.

“We need to create structures to enable people to accumulate assets over the long term,” Mr. Sherraden said. He argues that a universal program is necessary to sustain political support, but that it would nonetheless deliver disproportionate gains at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

“You will reduce the difference in the gap between the highest and lowest group over time,” he said.

In Maine, the private Harold Alfond Foundation started offering every child born in the state a $500 grant in 2009. Mr. Alfond, who founded the Dexter Shoe Company before selling it to Warren E. Buffett, had been writing a $500 check to each of his newborn grandchildren.

California has allocated $25 million for a similar program.

Rhode Island and Nevada are among the states that have established child development account programs. There are several other programs of varying scope and size across the United States, according to the nonprofit group Prosperity Now. Several programs include incentives and subsidies for lower-income families, which are disproportionately Black and Latino.

Automatic enrollment in a saving program, with the ability to opt out, turns out to have a much higher participation rate than relying on individuals to take the initiative. In the first years of the Maine program, when families had to open accounts themselves, participation never rose above 50 percent. In 2013, the Alfond Foundation switched to automatic enrollment, and since then, pretty much every newborn in the state has gotten an account.

William Elliott III, a professor of social work at the University of Michigan and a co-author of “Making Education Work for the Poor,” said knowledge about how to administer savings accounts and their impact had jumped over the last decade.

“It’s one of the best delivery systems” to help low-income children build assets and direct them toward college, Mr. Elliott said. He added that there was more rigorous data on the positive impact of child savings accounts than there was on student loans, government Pell grants and free college.

“A savings account for a low-income kid means a lot more to them than it does for a wealthy kid,” Mr. Elliott said, and establishing it early can transform expectations about the future.

Kandynace Boyd, who lives in Oklahoma City, hasn’t been able to contribute any additional money to her son Manuel’s account. She works part time in an acute care facility and is struggling to keep up with bills. But she said Manuel, 13, was already talking about going to culinary school.

“He’s got nearly $2,000 in it,” she said of the account. “I wish I could do it for my other two kids.”

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Domestic Workers in the Gulf Open Up About Labor Conditions on Tiktok

Female domestic workers, who are often isolated, are particularly vulnerable to abuse, according to rights groups.

With their already minimal freedoms further diminished by the pandemic and their isolation growing, the domestic workers are unflinchingly using TikTok to tell the world how they are being treated even though it could be dangerous to do so.

Some women use the posts simply to blow off steam. Others are seeking to spread the word of their often dire working conditions, frequently with a fatalistic sense of humor. Their audience, many of them also foreign workers, say that scrolling through funny videos is a way to ease loneliness and can provide a brief respite from stress, anxiety or depression.

“Many here are suffering,” said Merygene Cajoto, 35, a Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia who posts to more than 18,000 followers. “The way they express their depression, their stress from their work, is through TikTok. Friends send me videos and advice. It’s a kind of help line.”

Ms. Dama started posting on TikTok about a year ago, documenting the travails of workers like her in the Middle East. Before the “Don’t Got It” video went viral, she had fewer than 20,000 followers. After it came out, that number jumped by about 5,000 within days, and she now has more than 32,000.

Her videos, often tinged with sarcasm, dissect some of the weighty problems facing domestic laborers in the Gulf.

In another video, Ms. Dama dons a head scarf to mimic her Saudi employer. Her boss accused her of stealing money because she “comes from poverty back home,” according to Ms. Dama.

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There Is a Lot of Fungus Among Us

Inside a state-of-the-art lab, tucked in an industrial neighborhood on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, employees wearing protective suits move around two clear boxes, careful not to disrupt the tubes and sensors that keep temperature and humidity constant. Inside the boxes are mushrooms.

But not just any mushrooms. They are psychedelic — “magic” — mushrooms that the start-up Numinus Wellness believes one day may be used to treat mental health conditions as varied as depression, substance abuse and anxiety.

Welcome to the ’Shroom Boom. While Numinus is using mushrooms to make mind-altering therapies, other mushroom growers are promising other benefits, like strengthening immune systems or reducing inflammation. Mushrooms are showing up in all sorts of wellness products, pushing them into the mainstream and making mushrooms a major force in the flourishing, multibillion-dollar wellness market.

legalize psilocybin, the main active ingredient in “magic” mushrooms, for the treatment of certain mental health conditions in supervised settings. In March, the New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang said New York State should legalize psychedelic mushrooms, a stance he raised in 2019 when he was a Democratic presidential candidate.

Regulators in the United States and Canada are taking baby steps toward allowing limited use of psychedelic mushrooms, which produce visual and auditory hallucinations over a few hours after ingestion, for the treatment of certain mental health conditions. Popular as part of the counterculture in the 1960s, magic mushrooms were deemed illegal in the United States in the 1970s.

public offering. Another psychedelic company, MindMed, has financial backing from Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank.”

New York in March. But some analysts and many of the companies themselves caution that the path for psychedelics will most likely be very different.

study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine that found use of psilocybin relieved anxiety and depression in people with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. A second, small study involving 24 participants conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers that was published in JAMA Psychiatry found that those who received psilocybin-assisted therapy showed improvement as well.

“The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” Alan Davis, adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in an announcement about the study’s results.

The Food and Drug Administration has put at least two psychedelic mushroom compounds on the fast track for approval to treat depression.

Last year, Canada began allowing a limited number of people with terminal illness to use psychedelic mushrooms. Currently, Numinus is working toward a psilocybin-assisted therapy trial for patients with substance abuse disorders.

And while regulators in the United States are taking a new look at psychedelic mushrooms, psilocybin is still a Schedule 1 drug and would need to be reclassified by regulators.

Despite those hurdles, though, Mr. Nyquvest sees the potential for a broader use of psychedelic mushrooms around wellness, beyond what he called “treating really heavy indicators” of substance abuse and depression.

“The same way you go to the dentist to take care of the teeth, we need to think about taking care of the brain and mental well being.”

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