Aaaaand… we’re back with another cornucopia of newsy health bits.

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FYI, October is National Hispanic Heritage Month. And DJGR8IST has a Latinx/a/o playlist for you. Obvi, there’s so much more to heritage and culture than music. May I recommend this NPR series as a jumping-off point?

Good news: The 7-day average of daily COVID-19 case counts is still on the downswing. So, fingers crossed it stays that way.

In this installment of The Download, we have COVID stats for pregnant people, longevity info, and even some very weird astrology stuff about serial killers that I’m throwing in simply for the spook factor. It’s the Halloween season, people.

The World Health Organization dropped a big Halloween scary last week. It named climate change as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.” Gah! But it’s not like we thought it was candy corn.

If you want a really spooky costume, dress up as a fossil fuel this year. Air pollution — largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels — causes 13 deaths per minute.

In a previous installment of The Download, we tackled climate change anxiety (and resources). So feel free to revisit that.

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think (sorry, just a little Alanis humor for you), that researchers have been looking at how we can live longer while our planet turns into a fiery death ball?

Yes, I’m being dramatic. But in all seriousness, longevity research is a hot (pun intended) topic. In 2018, Harvard researchers determined five habits to increase your life expectancy. And really, this is sh*t you probably already know.

5 habits to *maybe* live longer

  • Eat a healthy diet. Include more fruits, veggies, and healthy fats (hello, avo!), and limit processed and red meats, sugary bevvies, and salt.
  • Be active. Get about 30 minutes (or more) of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
  • Aim for a healthy body weight. The Harvard researchers talk about body mass index (BMI). But independent of that research, we know that BMI can be an iffy tool of measurement. When it comes to body weight, what’s “healthy” is just not that simple.
  • Don’t smoke. Never having smoked is the dreamy dream, of course. If you smoke now, consider finding a way to ditch the habit.
  • Limit your boozing. The scientists say to keep it to a half to two drinks a day, depending on what you’re drinking and whether you’re male or female. (Less often is better.) Ultimately, if you drink, the bottom line is to probs cut back for a longer life.
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I’m usually busy running my yapper about COVID-19 vaccines, but I want to include a quicky reminder about this crucial autumn inoculation. Don’t forget to get that flu shot on your calendar. Or hey, no need to schedule. Just head into your corner pharmacy and ask for one when you stock up on treats for all the potential trickers (or for yourself — we’re not judging).

A quick fact: The flu shot cannot make you sick! Flu shots are not made with live virus. And the nasal spray version is made with attenuated (weakened) virus.

So if you experience flu-like symptoms in the days after receiving the flu vaccine, one of two things could be happening. Likely, you’re experiencing your immune system’s antibody-building response. Additionally, your body takes time (about 2 weeks) to build its immune defense against influenza after you receive the shot. So, you could have contracted the flu before you got the shot or right after.

Now we can (briefly) get back to everyone’s “favorite” topic: COVID-19 vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a health advisory urging pregnant peeps to get vaccinated and reiterating the safety of vaccination.

Pregnant people (and those recently pregnant) who have COVID-19 are at an increased risk of severe illness and death. They’re also at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.

When compared to non-pregnant symptomatic people, pregnant people with COVID-19 symptoms have double the increase of ICU admission and the need for being on a ventilator. And they have a 70 percent increased risk of death.

Risks for pregnant people and their unborn babies

  • preterm birth
  • stillbirth
  • admission to ICU and ventilation
  • admission of newborn to ICU
  • other adverse pregnancy outcomes
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The CDC says that as of late September, 97 percent of pregnant people with confirmed COVID-19 who were hospitalized either for illness or for labor and delivery were unvaccinated. And as of mid-September, only 31 percent of pregnant people were vaccinated before or during their pregnancy.

Confirmed COVID cases in pregnant people125,000
Pregnant people hospitalized for COVID22,000
Pregnant people who died from COVID161

We could soon have the first pill to help treat COVID-19. Drug maker Merck recently submitted its application to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of molnupiravir. It’s an oral antiviral intended for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at risk for severe illness or hospitalization.

We’ll find out more in the coming weeks. Other antiviral drugs are already used to treat HIV, hepatitis C, the flu, and other viruses.

If you caught the 10/9 ep of SNL, you saw this LOL seltzer sketch. It reminded me that Greatist did a hard seltzer taste test and roundup. Just in case you needed some recs. But if you’re looking for something nonalcoholic (see longevity research above), we offer you these go-to sparkling water options for bubbly bliss.

Fire up Hulu and find “Jacinta,” a brutal but real portrait of a mother and daughter battling heroin addiction. This documentary, by filmmaker Jessica Earnshaw, follows both women over the course of about 3 years. And you get a true sense of the generational trauma that’s often linked with substance use disorder.

A judge granted an emergency request from the Justice Department and temporarily blocked enforcement of the Texas abortion law, SB 8. The law had essentially banned almost all abortions in the state after 6 weeks of pregnancy (before most people even know they are pregnant), even in cases of incest or rape.

First, here’s a disclaimer: This content is definitely not intended for health purposes or to be taken seriously whatsoever. You can use it as fodder for your Halloween festivities.

But apparently Astrology Zodiac Signs did a “study” on which zodiac signs have the most known serial killers. I put “study” in sarcastic quotes because the info is sourced from Wikipedia and Murderpedia along with some news reports.

Anyway, here are the results: Scorpio, Cancer, Sagittarius, and Pisces all tied for the top spot, accounting for 38 percent of serial killers. The two least serial killer-y signs are apparently Taurus and Gemini, which account for 11 percent of serial killers. Hmmm… I wonder what sign fossil fuels are.