The Latest: The toll on our brains

Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readAug 19, 2020


Dear Reader,

This is Yasmin Tayag, Coronavirus Blog writer and editor, filling in for Alexandra this week. After five months of pandemic life, the cumulative toll it has taken on our mental and physical health is palpable (so props to Siff for taking some time off!). We’ve been operating at “surge capacity,” writes science journalist Tara Haelle in a beautifully honest story at Elemental, referring to the ways the body adapts to acutely high-stress situations. The problem is, this pandemic has been anything but acute. It’s only natural if you’re running out of steam.

But there are ways you can intervene to make daily life better: 🏡 Optimize your home with sunlight and fresh air. 🧳 Take a vigilant vacation, if you’re able. 💆 Understand and accept that the pandemic is messing with your memory. 🌬️ Breathe.

And stay on the lookout for misinformation. More and more people heeding false advice about cures and treatments have wound up in doctor’s offices, and an unproven and potentially dangerous compound called oleandrin has caught the attention of the president as a coronavirus treatment.

Promising news comes from below ground, where scientists are turning to human poop (seriously!) to track the spread of the coronavirus. And in the southern hemisphere, where flu season is already underway, strict precautions meant to prevent the spread of Covid-19 seem to be curbing the flu as well. It bodes well for the upcoming flu season in the United States — as long as we’re willing to maintain the same level of care.

Oh, and don’t throw out your neck gaiters just yet.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Case count: There are over 5.4 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 22.1 million confirmed cases worldwide. So far over 171,800 Americans have died from Covid-19.
  • The FDA’s emergency approval of blood plasma is on hold: A group of federal health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci says that emerging data on the treatment, that was believed to help people fighting the coronavirus, was too weak.
  • Remdesivir enters a new phase of research: A U.S. trial will examine whether pairing remdesivir with beta interferon, another antiviral drug, would improve remdesivir’s effects against Covid-19.
  • Deaths in U.S. correctional facilities are rising: The number of deaths in local jails, immigration detention centers, and state and federal prisons has surpassed 1,000. There have been nearly 160,000 infections among prisoners and guards.
  • The threshold for herd immunity might be lower: In the New York Times, scientists speculate that to achieve herd immunity, just 50% of a given population must be immune, which is much much lower than the suggested 70%.

Follow our Medium Coronavirus Blog for regular updates, and read some of the essential stories we’ve curated below.

Be well,

Yasmin Tayag
Writer and editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog

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A quick Q&A: Is Covid-19 a fertility concern?

Currently there’s limited data on whether Covid-19 impacts fertility. But experts say that it’s ideal for people who are trying to get pregnant to take the usual precautions to protect against the virus. Becoming seriously ill for any reason can have a short-term impact on measures for fertility like sperm function and hormone regulation, so avoiding infection is a good idea. Read more here.

New on the blog:

What’s the Deal With Neck Gaiters?

Is Covid-19 a Fertility or Pregnancy Concern?

How to Avoid a Deadly Mix of Covid and the Flu

What We Know About Coronavirus and Heart Disease

Essential explainers:

How the Pandemic Is Messing With Your Memories

Chronic Stress Is an Underestimated Pandemic Risk Factor

Long-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19 (The Atlantic)

A few smart reads:

Eviction is Degrading Health and Increasing Suicide Rates, and Covid-19 is Not Helping

Feeling a Paralyzing Mix of Anxiety and Depression? Your Surge Capacity is Depleted

How 3M Blew Its Reputation on the N95 Mask

Trump Eyes New Unproven Coronavirus ‘Cure’ (Axios)



Yasmin Tayag
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Editor, Medium Coronavirus Blog. Senior editor at Future Human by OneZero. Previously: science at Inverse, genetics at NYU.