Cast reunions in quarantine: How they are making an impact

There is no question that we are in unprecedented times. With the coronavirus taking the world by storm, who would have thought that reunions of our favorite TV shows and movies would be keeping us busy.

There is no question that the majority of the population has been spending a lot of time at home. Luckly, for most, streaming our favorite shows and movies has been keeping us relatively busy. 

Not only do we get to spend our days binge-watching all sorts of entertainment, but we also get to watch reunions of our favorite shows. Virtual reunions have brought together our favorite casts. All the way from Scandal, to The Office, to Austin & Ally, a variety of shows have reunited during these difficult times. Disney channel favorites, 90s dramas, classic comedies, and even recent shows (like Tiger King and Too Hot To Handle) all are reuniting virtually for fans.

As of April 30, TV Line reported that there have been more than 20 virtual cast reunions. 

Here are just a few of the reunions so far…

Chuck, 90210, Desperate Housewives, Difficult People, Entourage, Frasier, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Friday Night Lights, Glee, Grimm, Hannah Montana, Jessie, The Last Man on Earth, Melrose Place, The Nanny, The Office, Outsourced, Parks and Recreation, Scandal, SCTV, Sonny with a Chance/So Random, Taxi, Twin Peaks, and Victorious.  

So, why reunite now? And what are they doing to help?

Many shows are reuniting now because they have the time on their hands. Sometimes with a popular show, it is hard to get the whole cast together due to busy schedules. Now, people have the free time to connect again.

Another reason shows are reuniting is because of a rise in popularity. With more free time, old shows are gaining a newfound popularity. This encourages a cast reunion that maybe wouldn’t have been wanted before.

As for what the reunions are doing to help people, the Parks and Recreation reunion is a great example of what reunions should be doing. During the Parks and Recreation reunion on April 30, they encouraged viewers to donate money to Feeding America. They dedicated the entire reunion to Feeding America as well.

Although not every reunion is dedicated to charity, all of them have been spreading well needed positivity. Reunions are also putting smiles on people’s faces and encouraging them to stay positive.

These reunions are a great reminder that one day, our world will be back to normal. 

How COVID-19 is affecting animal shelters across the nation

There is no question that COVID-19 is changing the world. COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives. While a majority of the population is in quarantine, and sheltering in place, many people have found themselves bored and lonely. One change that was not anticipated is the change in animal adoption rates. While people are stuck at home, many people are adopting and fostering shelter dogs and cats to keep them company. 

As coronavirus spreads across the U.S., an increasing number of people have stepped up to foster and adopt animals, keeping them out of shelters. 

According to NBC News, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has seen a 70 percent increase in animals entering foster care in New York City and Los Angeles programs compared to this time last year. Adoption centers like the Riverside County Animal Shelter have a beautiful problem according to Wired; they are all out of adoptable animals.

Well, why are people adopting animals now? 

The real reason is no mystery; as people are practicing social distancing, many have decided now is a perfect time to bring an animal into their home. As reported by Wired, some shelters have put out calls for people to adopt, but others have found that this surge is completely organic. An upwelling of kindness and care from the community plays a large part in helping these animals and shelters. People who didn’t have animals because of their work or travel schedule, or problems similar to these, now can adopt which is another cause for the surge. Many shelters have also waived adoption fees to try to ease financial strain on new pet parents affected by COVID-19. 

Wired further reports that animals can have an important role in brightening people’s lives, especially in a time like this. Although pets can’t completely fill the void left by isolation from other humans, they do provide emotional support. Pets fulfill the human need for touch and offer significant relief to people’s stress and anxiety levels. Pets can even lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels leaving you feeling better. Animals like dogs are also able to motivate people to stick to strategies to help with isolation, like daily exercise and structure. 

However, it is not all good news. There is an increase in the amount of people surrendering their animals because of financial struggles, or because they are too ill to take care of them.

If you are looking for ways to help your local animal shelter, adoption and donations (like food and other important materials) are great ways to help. 

Teenagers and sleep

It is common knowledge that sleep is important. A good-night’s rest can enable the body to repair and be ready for a new day. Sleep can even prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration. 

Sleep is especially important for teenagers. Sleep helps fuel the brain and body. Teens need more sleep because their minds and bodies are growing quickly. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, teenagers need about 9 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep.

However, teenagers do not get even close to enough sleep. 

One reason is a shift in sleep schedule. After puberty, there is a biological shift in a teen’s internal clock of about 2 hours. For example, a teenager that used to fall asleep at 9:00pm will now not be able to fall asleep until 11:00pm. It also means waking up 2 hours later in the morning. Another reason is early high school start times. Some schools start as early as 7:00am, meaning some teens need to get up as early as 5:00am to get ready for school. Another reason is other social and school obligations. Teens have homework, sports, after-school activities, and socializing through social media often lead to late bedtimes.

As a result, most teens are sleep deprived. 

A lack of sleep can affect mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic performance, and for those that rive, drowsy driving. Sleep deprivation will influence teens to be moody, irritable, and cranky. It also increases the likelihood of them engaging in high-risk behaviors (like drinking, smoking, driving fast, etc.). Inadequate sleep will also result in problems with attention, memory, decision making, reaction time, and creativity. A lack of sleep can also result in poor grades. When driving, a lack of sleep increases the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. 

Well, how can teens get more sleep without sacrificing anything?

One way teens can get more sleep is by maintaining a sleep schedule. Choosing a bedtime and a time to wake up can help teens get enough sleep. Maintaining a sleep schedule also applies to weekends. Oversleeping on weekends can make going back to school on Monday incredibly difficult. Early afternoon naps are another way to get more sleep. Even 15-20 minutes of sleep after school can make an incredible difference. And as hard as it is, turning off screens before going to bed can make falling asleep easier as well. 

Why aren’t there any supplies?: How COVID-19 is impacting the supply chain

We are in a time unlike any our generation has ever faced. With millions of people out of work, and many quarantining at home, it’s crazy how much our world has changed in a short amount of time. However, one of the most pressing issues is the lack of supplies for both healthcare workers and people at home. 

Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer are all important supplies to prevent the spread of disease. But for most of these supplies in high-demand, there aren’t nearly enough to go around. According to the New York Times, crucial supplies for saving lives are also running out. Ventilators and other life saving equipment are at shortages. Test kits are in high demand and are rarely handed out. This prevents people from being diagnosed and given the proper assistance to stop the spread and get healthy again. Masks, gloves, and other protective supplies continue to be in high demand; not only for health care workers, but for people everywhere.

At home, materials like toilet paper, packaged food, and other household items are becoming increasingly harder to find in stores. So, why are we experiencing all of these shortages and what can we do about it?

According to Vox, there are many reasons fr these shortages. Many are caused by major problems in the supply chain. Demand for these products is up, but suppliers have experienced many disruptions. Many American companies rely on overseas suppliers for materials and finished products. Any delay in overseas shipping can create a “domino effect” in regards to product availability.

Another major problem in the supply chain is caused by the amount of people out of work. With more people home sick, less of these products are being made, shipped, stocked and delivered.

So, what are companies doing to help meet the needs given such high demand for supplies? According to Johns Hopkins University, manufacturers and retailers have been working to improve things for consumers, even if it may not be immediately beneficial for business. For example, grocery stores have established dedicated shopping times for the elderly and other high risk individuals to allow access without exposure to others. Stores have also been imposing limits on the number of people allowed in the building to shop at a given time. Some stores are also rationing high-demand products by putting a limit on how much a customer can buy.

However, not all of this is on the manufacturers. We consumers need to take responsibility and realize that our actions have impacts on others. Avoid stockpiling and be aware that others may be in more need of a product than you.

And most importantly, stay home and social distance. The more we all do this, the sooner things will be able to get back to normal. 

The Iowa caucus

By Jillian Armstrong

Most people have heard about the Iowa caucus, and even it’s results this year. Most people, however, don’t know why the caucuses are so important and the influence it has.

The Iowa caucuses are biennial electoral events for members of the Democratic and Republican parties in the state of Iowa. The Iowa caucus is regarded as an important indicator of a candidate’s likely success and it usually is the first among the nomination contests. 

You may be wondering why the Iowa caucuses are important and why they are in Iowa in the first place. Iowa is tiny, atypical to the rest of the United States, and provides about only 1% of the nation’s delegates. However, this doesn’t stop the state from being the first indicator of whether a presidential candidate’s support is holding up. The timing of the Iowa caucus provides candidates time to adjust their messages, which gives the state a large amount of power in elections. The Iowa caucuses give the media a tangible measure of candidates’ relative strength.

The Iowa caucuses’ importance can be seen in past electoral races. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, the Iowa caucuses in 2000 played an important role in the ascendance of the Democratic nominee, Al Gore. It did the same thing for the election’s ultimate winner, George W. Bush. In 2008, former President Barack Obama took lead in the Iowa caucuses. This forged a path for his nomination and victory over his rivals. 

The Iowa caucuses are run differently from other primary elections. In primary elections, in other states, registered voters go to polling places to cast ballots. In Iowa, people gather at local caucus meetings to discuss and vote on the candidates.

The caucuses were run differently this year, a decision that may have backfired. Instead of local meetings, it was decided that an app would be used to make the experience “easier.” The apps showed irregularities and votes began to have to be counted manually. This led to a significant delay in determining the results. 

According to CNN, the eventual results of the Iowa caucuses showed Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders as front runners in the Presidential race, both carrying about 21% of the votes. Elizabeth Warren was not far behind in the race with about 18% of the votes. So, as the Presidential race continues, these three candidates should be paid close attention!

Plastic bag bans: Are they really worth it?

Gavin Parsons, Marine Photobank: Image taken from:

There is no question that pollution and climate change are issues that are taking our world by storm. As new laws are put in place to add taxes to plastic bags or to ban them completely, it begs the question, are bans really going to work?

Everyday, people use disposable plastic products. Straws, cups, forks, bottles and, one of the most impactful, plastic bags. Plastic bags are easy to use, disposable, and many people use them for these reasons. However, are the benefits of them really worth the costs?

There is a shockingly large amount of plastic that is polluting our oceans. It endangers animals and leads to the emission of more greenhouse gases. According to ABC News, plastic bags clog storm drains and entangle and kill an estimated 100,000 marine animals annually.

The average plastic bag is used for about 12 minutes but they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. People use about 500 billion single-use bags per year. This averages out to 150 bags per person.

The concept of reducing plastic usage seems easy, but it is harder than it seems. People have been building the habit to use these disposable bags for years and it’s a habit that is hard to break. 

According to ABC News, only three states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban single-use plastics like plastic bags. California, Hawaii, and New York are those three states. Other states like Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island have mandatory recycling/reuse programs but plastic bags are not banned or taxed.

Ten states have placed bans on banning plastic bags. These states include Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. These bans restrict the ability to control and ban plastic-bag usage. The bans in these ten states ban laws similar to the ones in California and Rhode Island from being enforced.

This encourages us to ask the question, are plastic bag bans really worth it?

According to “Plastic Bag Bans Work” from the Smithsonian, in 2002, Ireland made a simple change by adding a 15 cent tax on plastic bags in stores. They hoped that the tax would help people notice their habits and convince them to bring reusable bags. After the tax was put in place, plastic bag use went down 90 percent. Many shoppers ended up agreeing with the tax and were able to see the benefits.

Plastic bag bans work (at least in tax form)! They have made a noticeable difference in Ireland and have the chance to make an impact all over the world. Enforcing bans across the United States could show an amazing change; especially for marine life!