Tut Underwood

Dealing with COVID-Related "Cabin Fever"

By Tut Underwood

Cabin fever caused by sheltering at home during the coronavirus outbreak can cause some serious mental health problems, say two Columbia psychiatrists. Even though many stores and restaurants are gradually opening, many people are still working from home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Others are confined to their homes by self-quarantining, or by unemployment. Weeks or months of self-sequestering can lead to what's popularly called "cabin fever," a feeling of being trapped with no escape, and a desperate longing for that escape. Columbia psychiatrist Peter Loper said one effect is being alone too much with one's thoughts, and with anxiety, a problem which can be exacerbated by a pandemic like COVID-19. In addition, being at home and...

Mask Makers Help Keep Health Care Workers Safe

By Tut Underwood

Individual seamstresses and small businesses are making face masks to help workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilitiesBoth small businesses and individuals have enlisted in an effort to help hospitals, doctors' offices and employees of other institutions to protect themselves from the coronavirus by making reusable cloth masks, gowns or other protective equipment. Columbia's Soda City Sewing is one such small business. Normally a maker of custom children's clothing, it diverted most of its staff to making masks, and has produced thousands since late March. Owner Bayne Dangerfield was inspired by the situation of a Massachusetts hospital, which asked local seamstresses for help. She posted on Facebook a...

Coronavirus Risk Causes Anxiety in Expectant Mothers

By Tut Underwood

Side view of pregnant woman, sitting.Everyone is taking extra precautions to avoid the risk of getting the coronavirus and its resulting disease, COVID-19. But one group of people seems especially fearful of getting the virus: expectant mothers. Dr. Stephanie Berg, a Prisma Health psychiatrist who treats pregnant and post-partum mothers with depression and anxiety, said pregnancy and anxiety go hand in hand, but now she's seeing normal nerves shift into concern about getting the coronavirus. "Women are tending to worry about the virus, the isolation with delivery and the isolation post-partum, the financial impact. We are...

Coronavirus Takes Heavy Toll on Retail Industry

By Tut Underwood

File photo of produce in a grocery storeFor several weeks now, the coronavirus has kept people at home, socially distanced and away from work. Among the other disorienting effects, it also has brought to a halt the busy hum of commerce at many businesses in South Carolina and across the nation. Though it is temporary - but of unknown duration - the national shutdown has had a predictably devastating effect on many facets of the economy. One of the hardest hit sectors has been the retail industry. In South Carolina, retail contributes a whopping $31 billion to the state's economy. University of South Carolina Professor of Retailing...

Schools Continue Online as Coronavirus Spreads

By Tut Underwood

A Columbia art teacher prepares an art history lesson to be taught remotelyA Columbia art teacher prepares an art history lesson to be taught remotely as part of the online classes being taught by schools and colleges throughout South Carolina. Credit Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio The spread of COVID-19 has forced schools and colleges to offer all classes online for the first time in history to keep them at home and avoid the coronavirus. Online learning has been going on for a few weeks now, and students and teachers are making the adjustment. Kierra Gabriel, a student at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, reported "it's pretty different from being in a...

S.C.-Created Device Enables Doubling the Number of COVID-19 Patients Helped by Ventilators

By Tut Underwood

The Y-shaped Vesper ventilation expansion splitter was created by a team of South Carolina doctors and engineers, and can double - even quadruple, in a pinch - the number of COVID-19 patients who can use a single ventilator.In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, much has been made of the expected shortage of ventilators for COVID-19 patients. To maximize the patient treatment potential of ventilators in America's hospitals, a team of South Carolina doctors, engineers and other health care professionals has developed a way to double (at least) the capacity of the nation's ventilators while more are being made. The Vesper ventilation expansion splitter is a Y-shaped tube that allows twice the number of hoses to be attached to the ventilator, thus allowing two patients to use the same ventilator. According to Dr...

Military In South Carolina Responds To COVID-19

By Tut Underwood

The South Carolina National GuardThe coronavirus outbreak has brought together many organizations to fight the spread of this highly contagious disease, and that includes the military. Gov. Henry McMaster has called on the South Carolina National Guard to be on the alert in case it's needed. Capt. Jessica Donnelly said the Guard is prepared to lend both people and trucks in case tents or other services or equipment need to be set up or transported. "We can provide personnel and resources to help the hospitals and local health care facilities set up the mobile tents that they have outside to help facilitate, and then we can...

Pi Day Celebrates a Number We Couldn't Live Without

By Tut Underwood

Saturday, 3/14, is Pi Day.  The mathematical constant known by the Greek letter pi is approximately 3.14, but actually, as an irrational number, goes on for infinity.  Also , happy birthday Albert Einstein, born 3/14!Saturday, March 14 is Pi Day, a day to celebrate that unique number represented by the Greek letter pi. It's about 3.14 (hence its celebration on 3/14), but University of South Carolina mathematician Josh Cooper says it's an irrational number, meaning it goes on forever after the decimal point. It's most well known for calculating the area of a circle (the famous formula Πr2, misunderstood in the old joke "pie are round, cornbread are square."), but Cooper said pie is used for all kinds of things in math and physics. A practical application of pi, he said, would be "if you wanted to pre-...

Weather Events to Become More Extreme with Climate Change

By Tut Underwood

Hurricane Florence, seen here as a Category 3 storm on Sept. 12, 2018, approaches the East Coast. It eventually made landfall as a Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on Sept. 14, and caused massive inland flooding.A recent government report says that climate change is leading to extreme weather events that are becoming "more frequent, intense, widespread or of longer duration." University of South Carolina geographer Kirsten Dow agrees, saying the historic 2015 rain and resulting flood caused by Hurricane Joaquin was a perfect example. "The amount of water that was in that 2015 storm came off a warming ocean: the ocean was warmer, (thus) there was more energy available, more moisture in the air to be dumped on us in those floods. And the same was true of Hurricane Irma. It benefitted from warm offshore...

Son of Holocaust Survivor Observes Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation

By Tut Underwood

The gate at Auschwitz concentration camp, with the slogan "work will set you free" above the entrance.  Recently in South Carolina and around the world, events were held to observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. January 27 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. The Holocaust killed an estimated six million European Jews as well as many other victims of the Nazis, including Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, gypsies, homosexuals, the infirm and more. One of the survivors of Auschwitz was the late teacher, author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. His son Elisha was in Columbia Jan. 28 as keynote speaker at a...

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