Thanksgiving – What Do I Have to be Thankful For?

What a year. I reflected on the year because I’m not sure how I ended up at the end of the year. It seems like January was just an hour ago, which is weird because every day seems to last three days.  

The last time I remember feeling like days lasted forever while the year seemed to race by was when I was a kid. I remember waiting for Christmas. The Christmas tree would go up. My elementary school would have us practice for the Christmas program. Each day seemed like an eternity, and Christmas seemed so far away. But, the year, well, the year was just fine.

I guess I’m waiting again. I guess me and the rest of the country are waiting. Each day feels like an eternity, while the year feels like a flash.

So, I decided to think about why I was thankful. I have much to be grateful for. I am grateful for my husband and our life together. I’m grateful that where I’m weak, he is strong. 

He has better survival instincts than I do. We had planned to spend Thanksgiving in a rented apartment on the beach. He didn’t think it was a good idea. I just canceled. He has excellent survival instincts.

That brought up the pain of the pandemic. This pandemic is going to last as long as it is going to last. My husband and I have spent the last eight months at home. We’ve done take-out food a couple of times. But, other than the grocery stores, we haven’t been out. No vacations to the beach or the desert or the mountains. No splurges on clothes we don’t need. No expensive restaurants – our absolute favorite. And no movies.

I’m pretty proud of us. We’ve done it. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves. Who we were before the pandemic and who we are today are different people. I think we’re better. 

Before the pandemic, we were pathological consumers. Before the pandemic, I was always busy with nonsense. I had no time because I wasted time doing nonsense things. And, everything had to be so wonderful. I had lost pleasure with the simple things in life. 

The pandemic has forced time on me. It’s been painful, but my expectation of life has been returning to “normal” where I can see and appreciate the simple things in life. I stopped my pathological spending. I spent time reaching even deeper into Chinese Medicine. I’ve stepped up my meditation. All this means self-discovery is on overdrive. The simple living experience and the pleasure of a chilly fall morning or a crisp winter day have been reawakened.   

I don’t think I would have ever gone this deep into the medicine or myself without the pandemic. And sure, now it feels like I accidentally stepped on a slide and am on a wild ride. Yet, the ride is impressive.

Do you know what else happened? The pandemic gave all of us permission to wear face masks and make it normal. When this is over, I’m wearing a face mask during flu season because the flu has become so virulent and difficult to overcome. 

We may have gained another positive from the pandemic. When you are feeling sick, you might feel justified in staying home. Remember how frustrated you would get that a co-worker came in snotting and coughing all over everything. Two days later, you would have the flu, and it lasted for eight weeks. 

People may be more willing to stay home. And with the advent of work-at-home, businesses may be more supportive of keeping the sick home.

In Australia, this year, with masks and social distancing, Australia’s flu season was a tenth of the 2019 season, and total deaths from the flu were 34.   

I have to thank my clients. Without them, I wouldn’t have a business. With them, they have made a problematic year survivable. So, thank you for being there for me. And I got to meet new clients this year who were terrific and filled with new stories and new lives. 

Most importantly, my husband and I have managed to keep ourselves and our friends safe. I’m incredibly grateful for that. 

What I’ve come to realize is this year is not a normal Thanksgiving. It is a significant season marked by thanks and grace. This is a year where I’ve been introduced to heroes every day. Every essential worker, the grocery worker, the food processor, healthcare worker, and the civil servants that worked so others can stay home and safe, I am grateful to you. This year has reawakened my midwestern values of family and community. And this year has made me aware that nothing can be taken for granted, and I’m so grateful my family is safe.

There is still a road ahead of us. From the past eight months, my husband and I know we can make the next six months.

My wish and prayer for you is that you can keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe. Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Genetically engineering vaccines to fight COVID19 – the mRNA vaccine

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With the prospect of either Moderna or Pfizer bringing their mRNA vaccine to market, I’ve had clients question me on what is this technology? In my episode on “The biggest healthcare challenge facing you today,” I talked to why it is so important to be or have a patient advocate. One of the functions which a patient advocate is able to complete is the initial research so you can start to figure out what works best for you and to allow you to have a more in-depth conversation with your medical provider.  

The coronavirus is insanely risky.  In the last two weeks, more and more people are comfortable talking about their infection and the lasting ramifications of the virus. Twitter is probably one of the more vocal platforms. As celebrities and influencers talk about their positive test for Covid19, more and more people are tweeting about some of the lasting health impacts of the disease. Asthma or some other impaired lung function is the most popular post I read about. But, I’m also reading about issues with brain function and dementia, post viral heart attacks, and just a slew of other things. 

And pre-election, it was really hard for me to find this information. I really wanted to understand what my risk was if I survived an infection and prior to two weeks ago no one was comfortable talking about it. Nor were they posting pictures of their loved ones who had passed. The weird thing is the pictures I’m seeing are not 80 year old seniors in a healthcare facility. These people look like they are in their 40’s or 50’s, healthy and vibrant. These people were me. 

That pushed me to produce the episode on “Coronavirus Update, 4 medications in Your Medicine Cabinet” and their positive impact on Covid 19.  

But now we are going to have another decision facing us. What do we do when the vaccine becomes available? Right now, Moderna and Pfizer are leading the pack with their mRNA technology. Johnson and Johnson was working on an adenoviral vector vaccine that was pulled in the last few weeks due to an adverse incident. 

So, what are these technologies? mRNA vaccine technology is one of three genetically engineered vaccine technologies. The three technologies are: 1. DNA vaccines, 2. mRNA vaccines and 3. adenoviral vector vaccines. There are over 200 hundred vaccine candidates worldwide. There are companies in each of these categories. Inovio has a DNA vaccine in clinical trials. Pfizer and Moderna have mRNA vaccines.  Johnson and Johnson has an adenoviral vector vaccine.

And this is just focusing on the genetically engineered vaccines. 

Let me tell you, in concept, I like the concept of genetically engineered vaccines because it takes out the variability of life in vaccines created through naturally occurring processes. And this risk really came to light back in 2009 with our flu vaccines. We’ve used chicken eggs to create the flu vaccine for over 70 years. So, it’s a stable platform with a hitch. Every vaccine would have a mutation. These mutations didn’t pose a concern because the vaccine was really about making our immune system sensitive to one protein on the virus – the only protein our immune system could target. In 2009, the mutation happened on that protein hiding it from our immune system. Back in 2019, I produced an episode on this phenomenon “Research Updates Flu Vaccine 2019.”

The episode goes over the research that was happening and some of the short term solutions of addressing the problem. Now, none of the short term solutions fixed what caused the problem in the first place. In fact, they had the potential for making that problem even worse because the problem was diversity in nature coupled with non-human DNA and injecting it into humans. I’ve been really curious how science was going to address the problem with the random nature of life. Out of the three genetically engineered vaccines, it appears that mRNA may have the potential to address this problem. 

All three of the technologies have been around for 20 to 30 years. None of the technologies have an approved vaccine for human use. So, let’s look at what each of the technologies does have approved. First, DNA vaccines have two approved veterinary vaccines in the US. The West Nile Virus vaccine for horses and melanoma vaccine for dogs. Second, the mRNA technology has no approved vaccines for humans or animals. The third technology, the adenovirus vaccine has one vaccine approved for rabies in wild animals. 

I would highly support reading the Chemical and Engineering article, “Adenoviral vectors are the new COVID-19 vaccine front-runners. Can they overcome their checkered past?” Well written and explains the adenoviral vaccines in clear, easy to understand language. It highlights the risks with these vaccines. It sounds like the concept is valid, but when you try to implement it, you can’t. 

With the DNA vaccines, I hesitate when you inject something into our DNA. I just don’t think that is a good idea. And the  West Nile virus vaccine was causing so many adverse events in horses, that I stopped using it. I stopped following this vaccine when I stopped using it. Although, I can say I don’t hear the same outrage that I heard with the initial vaccine where birth mutations were common, sudden death, reproduction concerns – just all sorts of weird DNA issues. That’s just me, and I’m sure science would be more than willing to help me understand how naive my position is. 

Obviously there have been improvements in the technology. Back in 2003, there was a review on DNA vaccines. One of the problems was reaching enough cells. According to a review initiated in 2015 and finalized in 2017, that is still the problem in humans. I’ll be curious to see how Inovio is going to overcome this obstacle. 

Which leaves us with mRNA vaccines. What I liked about this concept is it is synthetic. So, the risks involved in using chicken eggs to grow the virus and injecting the virus into the body are avoided. What I also like is the limited function of mRNA in the body.  mRNA is a recipe or instructions our cells read to make a protein. And this vaccine is only delivering instructions to create one protein and has no other instructions.  What I also like is mRNA degrades overtime so it won’t be floating around your body. It has a natural termination date. 

On the other side, the biggest concern with the Pfizer mRNA vaccines is the need to keep them cold…really cold until use. That will create a logistics problem. Moderna does not need to be kept cold. That alone would make it a natural front runner over Pfizer. The other thing that is going to be tough with these vaccines is it is new technology.  I know there was some concern that the data wasn’t available before the elections. There weren’t enough infections before the elections to open the data. And I still question whether 90 some infections is enough to make a determination in a population of 30,000 to 45,000 because we just don’t know what we don’t know. And that article in Chemical and Engineering news highlights what we learned about the adenovirus technology as we started trying to use it. It was identified that people who have immunity to the adenovirus used in the vaccine had no protection. In some people, this technology caused a significant inflammation response that could cause death. The researchers also found that after the first injection,  the body mounts an immune response to the adenovirus vaccine. So, you couldn’t use it a second time. 

So, right now, I like the concept of genetically engineered and I like the mRNA technology the most of the three available. But this is really preliminary. I thought I had read somewhere that Pfizer will open their trial data towards the end of November to allow researchers to peer into the data, but I can’t find that information anywhere. If you want to see the study design here is a link to it. https://www.pfizer.com/science/coronavirus

CNBC did a great overview of the process of getting a COVID-19 vaccine to market and mRNA vaccines called, “ What is an mRNA coronavirus vaccine.” It goes into more depth on the speed these are coming to mark, the phases of the trial, and emergency use approvals. 

O.k. that is the introduction to the genetically engineered vaccines. Good-luck you guys and stay safe. 

FOOTNOTES

Erman, Michael Mishras, Manas (2020, October 27). Pfizer says no COVID-19 vaccine data yet, could be a week or more before it reports. Reuters. Retrieved on November 15, 2020 from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pfizer-results-idUSKBN27C1GT

Cross, Ryan (2020, May 12). Adenoviral vectors are the new COVID-19 vaccine front-runners. Can they overcome their checkered past? Chemical & Engineering News. Retrieved on November 15 2020 from https://cen.acs.org/pharmaceuticals/vaccines/Adenoviral-vectors-new-COVID-19/98/i19

 Cuffari, Benedette. (2020, September 25). What is a DNA-based vaccine?. News-Medical. Retrieved on November 15, 2020 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-a-DNA-based-vaccine.aspx.

Liu, M.A. (2003, March 21). DNA vaccines: a review. Journal of Internal Medicine. Retrieved on November 15, 2020 from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1365-2796.2003.01140.x

Li L, Petrovsky N. Molecular mechanisms for enhanced DNA vaccine immunogenicity. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2016;15(3):313-329. doi:10.1586/14760584.2016.1124762

Beasley, Deena (2020, November 9). Inovio expects FDA decision on COVID-19 trial start this month. Reuters. Retrieved on November 15 2020 from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-inovio-pharma-idINKBN27P2UW

November is Caregivers Month! 2 Gifts Caregivers Really Need

Wow, it’s November and it’s National Family Caregivers Month. I was watching CBS News this morning, and they were showing suicide statistics. During this pandemic, caregivers have the second-highest suicide rate.  

Caregiver Survival GuideI remember being here last year with my book “Caregivers Survival Guide, How to Eliminate Stress in 30 Minutes and Other Useful Tools.”

I don’t know how a whole year has passed. It hasn’t helped that this year has been a time warp of events that have pretty much made no sense. What has made this year incredibly challenging for caregivers is the pandemic. As the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 increases, the challenges increase. 

To caregivers, I want to acknowledge you for opening yourself up to one of the most potent experiences this life will offer. Every caregiver must navigate the diversity of emotions and energy caregiving takes. Here are two things you can do to help anyone who is a caregiver. 

Caregiving is filled with love, joy, exhilaration, beauty, pain, and sorrow. This creates a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s the emotional rollercoaster that caregivers need help processing. 

If you are a friend of a caregiver, one of the best gifts you can give them is time…time to listen and talk with them. Just like new mothers sometimes need a break from baby talk and cherish the ability to have a normal grown-up chat, caregivers need that break, too. If you can be a friend who allows a caregiver to unload some of the pain of caregiving, you would be genuine gold. Being that friend can mean the difference between surviving another day when the s**t got really real or having a breakdown. 

I have a great friend who is that true gold friend. I would be upset and she would listen to me and sympathize because even though you love people, it doesn’t mean it will always be sunflowers and roses. A normal relationship will have conflicts. Caregiving can be more surreal than other relationships. What I noticed happened for caregivers is that there will be one story of frustration playing out repeatedly. 

You’ll hear the same story not because they can’t get over it. You’ll hear it repeatedly because caregivers are in the middle of a crisis with other people who are also in the middle of a crisis. It’s not the best time to think they will go through an in-depth self-discovery. It would be best if you were amazed that they are not self-medicating, screaming at the top of their lungs, and checking out.

Caregivers need someone to tell their story. Talking is one of the critical ways people process and release stress. A 1988 study found talking about your problems and sharing negative emotions in a safe environment was profoundly healing. This type of interaction not only reduced stress, but it also strengthened the immune system and reduced physical and emotional suffering (Pennebaker, Kiecolt-Glaser, & Glaser, 1988).

To be a person with whom a caregiver can share their worst moments and most difficult emotions in a safe, non-judgmental way is one of the biggest blessings you can give a caregiver. Everyone living in a caregiving situation will have a story they need to share with others. Even though they have negative stories about people they love, realize they still love that person and are in a challenging situation. Maybe the whole point of service to another is to be vulnerable.

But there is even a bigger blessing you can give a caregiver. For caregivers who have their loved one at home and are experiencing 24×7 caregiving, the opportunity to have two to three hours for themselves is a golden gift. Caregiving has no time for yourself.  

There was a 2009 report which found caregivers commonly experience social isolation. Due to the unique time requirements of caregiving, caregivers often lacked social contact. Caregivers found they had to sacrifice their leisure pursuits and hobbies to take care of the person they loved. Caregivers may be in a situation where they have to sacrifice their future earning potential by reducing their employment. (Brodaty, Donkin, 2009) 

You remember raising the kids and how you felt you had no time for yourself. There was a difference with that. With each day, the kids gained more independence. One day they went to school, and you had the day to yourself. One day, they went to college. 

Each day, they became more and more their person. With caregiving, it goes in reverse. Each day they become more and more dependant, and each day you can lose more and more of the person you once knew. 

Before caregiving, you spent your time taking care of yourself. During caregiving, more and more of your time is taking care of someone else.  

So, the second-best gift you can give a caregiver is a bit of time for themselves. Offering to help watch their loved one even though the offer doesn’t always work out can be a windfall for the caregiver. Sometimes it doesn’t work out because the caregiver is in a situation where the age of their loved one makes it more challenging to have a third party watching them. Their loved one may find unfamiliar faces scarier and scarier, or their behavior may have become problematic due to social norms becoming more optional as you age. Offering to sit and visit with their loved one while the caregiver is in the house still gives a great break.

To be willing to give your time to a caregiver to listen to their stories or help out for a couple of hours is two of the most precious things you can provide a caregiver. It’s great to have a month that helps bring awareness to the growing responsibility and growing population of caregivers.  

Pennebaker, J. W., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(2), 239–245. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.56.2.239

 Brodaty, H., & Donkin, M. (2009). Family caregivers of people with dementia. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience11(2), 217–228.

7 Easy Eye Remedies You Can Use Right Now to Keep out Infection with Tips on Plants for Your Apothecary

Here are remedies you can find in the house and your backyard to keep your eyes healthy, irritation and infection-free. 

If you’re anywhere on the West Coast right now, you have been swallowed by smoke and ash. In the last couple of weeks, about 4.5 million acres have burned. The acreage burned in California is already 30% greater than the worse year, which was 2018 and almost 2 million acres. About 500,000 acres burned in 72 hours in Oregon. 

These fires are burning at the same time. The amount of smoke in the air is unprecedented and is beyond hazardous. Air quality warnings have been released. It is not safe to be outside even if you are wearing a mask!

The air is tinder box dry with ash gliding to the ground, wafting through the streets and surrounding homes. The smoke is blocking out so much of the sun, a day that was suppose to be 90 degrees and sunny was 66 degrees and dark. I wasn’t going outside and my eyes were getting irritated. The irritation got worse and I woke up with one of my eyes swollen and painful.  

Let’s look around the house and find home-based eyecare remedies you can use to help keep the ash out of your sensitive mucous membranes. If you are turning your garden into your own apothecary, I’m going to add some plants you can grow. With all the ash and no end in sight, you may need to use these remedies multiple times a day.

My first recommendation is to use distilled water and boil the water to kill anything that might be in it. There are so many bacteria and fungus today. City water piping can be ancient. The eye membranes are susceptible to any invaders. Besides, it’s 2020 and who knows? There is probably some weird, new, mutated spirochete waiting to slip into your eye and eat your retina. So, boil your water.

And if you make a wash, only use it one time. Don’t try to save it and use over the next few days because bacteria and other nasty things can start growing within hours of making your wash. One more thing, don’t use the same cotton ball or swab or tea bag on both eyes. It’s effortless to spread an infection from one eye to the other. 

Here are the different ways I use to keep my eye membranes clean and protect my eyes from all the ash falling down.

You can get sterile Q-tips at any drug store. These are great for applying a liquid to the eye membranes. The Q-tips are extra-long and each tip is wrapped in an individual protective package. Make sure the liquid is not too hot. You don’t want to burn your membranes. If you have styes, the Q-tips are especially effective with warm water. Just dip the Q-tip in water and rub across the stye.

You can also use Q-tips to apply other liquids like Colloidal Silver. Colloidal Silver has great antiseptic properties and can help eliminate bacteria in your eyes. Colloidal Silver at up to 20 ppm is easy to purchase online and many people keep Collodial Silver available at home. You can use a Q-tip or cotton ball to wipe your eyes. 

Boric Acid is an antiseptic powder that dissolves in boiling water and has been used for centuries as an eye treatment. This is the only eye remedy I’ve used that usually clears out eye irritation or infections in one treatment. A simple solution is 1/8 teaspoon of boric acid powder to 1 cup of water. For a stronger solution, 1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup of water. Dip a clean cotton ball into the water, close your eye, and wipe it.

What about chamomile? This is the same chamomile that you use to make teas and is found in your garden as German Chamomile. It can be found in the bulk section of some grocery stores. The easiest way to use chamomile flowers on your eyes is to buy chamomile tea in teabags and make them into a compress. Steep the tea in boiling water for a couple of minutes, pull the teabag out, squeeze out the excess water, make sure the bag is not too hot and rest it on your eyes. You can do this multiple times a day. 

I don’t know if you have ever used the Boiron homeopathic remedies? I love these products. These are the homeopathic sugar pills you can find in most natural food stores. They have a product made from eyebright, a key herb used for eye health. It is called Euphrasia Officinalis. You can take 5 pellets and let them dissolve under your tongue. Try that 3 times a day until your symptoms disappear. 

Calendula, or the marigold flower, is a favorite herb because of its action on the skin and with pain. The Latin name is Calendula Officinalis and these little annuals can grow in your backyard. To make an eyewash, use the petals of one flower steeped in 1 cup of boiling water and apply to the eye with an eyewash cup, a cotton ball as a wipe, or gauze as a compress.  

The last herb is echinacea! Who doesn’t like echinacea? Echinacea is part of the daisy family. You’ve seen them in the nursery as the coneflower plant. This little flower is a tough perennial being heat and drought resistant and indifferent to poor soil. If you don’t have a green thumb, this guy doesn’t care. You can use it the same way as calendula.

There you have it! Seven easy eye remedies you can use right now to keep out eye infections. If you are making your own garden apothecary, I’ve included three flowers you can grow to make your world more beautiful and healthy!

COVID-19! Finally Some Good News!!

Hear the Program on Your Device!

This has been a depressing year, but it looks like we might be turning the corner. 

Thank goodness for science because we have scientists worldwide who have been working night and day to learn about this virus and help us reduce and contain the virus. And thank you to all our medical professionals. They have reached hero status in my book.

What’s the good news?

Well, let me start. The research is conclusive, masks do prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is the crazy part, the science suggests masking up could eliminate total transmission in a few weeks. Masks scientifically reduce 2/3rds of immediate transmission from infected individuals, and 40% of carriers don’t have any symptoms and are contagious. Yet, each day would be a smaller and smaller group of transmitters until we reached zero. 

That is really important part to let sink in. 

I have a lot of clients over 50. They are not going out. They are not going out because they don’t believe it is safe, and they are correct. The majority of wealth is held in this generation. It is not in the 18-29-year-olds. If we want our economy to pick up, we have to make a world where those who can significantly impact the economy can participate. 

What other neat things that the scientists found?

Humidity makes a difference. The virus is not sensitive to any of the other environment variables like temperature. COVID-19 doesn’t care about the heat or season. It cares about humidity. Science has found, humidity makes the aerosol particles too heavy, and the particles fall to the ground.

I had been watching Georgia and wondering why their rates had been low. Then things changed. By July 22nd, their ICU’s were overwhelmed, infection rates were spiking, and it was complete mayhem. 

What science thinks happened is when the weather warmed more people were using air-conditioned spaces. Air conditioning reduces the humidity in the air. There are significant increases in infections in the 40%-50% humidity zone, where we are most comfortable, versus a higher humidity level. Check out my video on the Aircare Miniconsole Humidifier. I was in Arizona, and the humidity level was 27%!!!

COVID-19 is transmitted through aerosol particles, but it has a LOW rate of reproduction. That explains the timing of COVID-19. It seems to take forever to show up, making us very weary of our vigilance. Like a slug, it slowly moves it’s ponderous body until it can crest the garden wall. 

This brings me to the next point. COVID-19 is dose dependant. This virus has a low replication rate, and you need a certain quantity before getting sick. If only one person is sick and shedding virus into the air, the amount of virus to air is pretty small, making it more difficult for the virus to infect people. But, as more and more people get sick or are in a confined area, the air dose increases until it is infectious and beyond. Space determines contagion, and outdoor ventilation reduces transmission through air dilution.

From the start of this virus, ACE2 receptors in the body are suggested as the means to infect people. These receptors are prevalent in the mouth, the bronchi, nose, and eye, which is why masks and shields work and show positive research outcomes. Most of the virus consumed by an individual will find its way to the nose.

What about immunity? There is some great news on this front. The science has brought up that cellular immunity is what protects the body from reinfection, not antibodies. The antibodies indicate you had an infection. People are concerned because antibodies to COVID-19 are gone by three months. Scientists do not think they have seen a definite reinfection case, which leads them to the hypothesis you may have gain cellular immunity. 

I’m going to put a link to the UCSF review of the latest science. They brought up masking is a behavioral change, and how do you gain behavioral change. I was around in the ’80s when HIV was creeping through our lives. It really was a discussion about how do you get people to use condoms. Even today, with all the STD’s, some people do not use condoms. Yet, it really comes down to role modeling.

I wrote an article, “When You Realize Your Part of the Toxic People and How to Walk to Healthier Ground.” Many difficulties and stresses are facing us today. It’s effortless to accidentally get sucked down in all the toxicity that is happening today and become someone else, especially when someone you love is in danger. It’s going to be up to you to role model the world you want to live in, and hopefully, that blog can give you some ideas.

The other thing I liked was that the research completely supported everything I’m doing in the office to keep the office safe. I’m in an older building and was looking at moving to a newer facility. I am so happy I didn’t. The facility I’m in allows me to open doors and get great ventilation going through the office, which significantly reduces the air dose.

That’s the latest! Great news, and we have better information to protect ourselves. Thanks guys and have a great day.

Covid-19: How the Virus Gets in and How to Block It: Aerosols, Droplets, Masks, Face Shields, & More