As Americans try to cope with the shutdown of classrooms and college campuses, restaurants in which they can no longer congregate or sporting events and concerts that have been put on indefinite hold, citizens of all ages find themselves seeking new ways to enjoy life and entertain themselves.

And given the creative spirit that exists within us all, we thought we’d try to identify a few suggestions for coping with the directive of self-isolation in a society that has long sought ways to be in community.

What follows certainly cannot begin to be considered an exhaustive list. We solicit your ideas and strategies as well and hope to include them in our upcoming editions.

Feel free to share them with The Washington Informer at

The ‘Great American Takeout’ — Food for Thought

Tuesday, March 24 was a special day for local and national restaurants in the U.S. Labeled as the “Great American Takeout,” participants were asked to post on social media and use the hashtag #GreatAmericanTakeout to help spread the word, encouraging Americans to order to-go from their favorite eateries. The day was planned to support the restaurant industry by ordering takeout and some restaurants offered some great deals to bolster participation.

Yes, America’s restaurants face a real crisis with the people stuck indoors and at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Even major chains like Chili’s, Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden are in trouble, not to mention your favorite diner or hamburger joint. Not only are they losing money fast but some are either laying off staff or considering closing — perhaps for good.

Even fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King have some great deals and they’re continuing indefinitely, as long as you use their apps to order your food and then have your food delivered or pick up your goodies at the drive-through window.

Hey, we have to eat, right? So, keep those night out meals coming. Just order ahead of time and enjoy the comfort of your favorite chair or couch at home. It’s just food for thought.

If Boredom’s Getting to You, Try ‘Social Distracting’

With bars and venues on lockdown from coast-to-coast, musicians are turning to a new way of getting the beat out, on and for some, make a few needed dollars too: they’re live-streaming music content. Here in the DMV, go-go bands are making the most of opportunities to help fans of the locally-founded and beloved genre get their groove on. In fact, some views have even topped 100,000 anxious go-go aficionados.

Of course, all kinds of music are now being live-streamed, from the New York Metropolitan Opera to John Legend — even those adorable figures from the land of Disney. It remains to be seen how this new form of musical presentation will play out but we believe there’ll soon be live-stream promoters and producers making the most of our need to enjoy our favorite vocalists, bands and orchestras.

It’s just another adjustment the world is making due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who said humans can’t change?

Help Children Find Hope in the Future with ‘Rainbows’

Mothers in the U.S. and England have started a trend that’s quickly catching on. In order to encourage their children, many of whom are now forced to stay home for distance learning and unable to play with their friends at school because of the coronavirus pandemic, they’re coming out with ways to keep their kids from sinking into depression.

One way that’s caught on like wildfire is having the children draw pictures of rainbows and then putting them in the windows of their homes. The rainbows signify their belief that there’s hope for a brighter tomorrow. And just like the rain which sometimes dampens our spirits, we know that one day, the sun will come out and the rainbow will lead the way.

Yes, it may seem dark now but help your children understand that like all things which may disappoint us or even cause us anxiety and fear, things will get better. The sun will come out — maybe not tomorrow — but eventually. It always does, right?

Stay Healthy Creatively with ‘Rainbow-Colored Foods’

According to healthy-eating advocates, good nutrition is more than a black-and-white issue. Just the opposite — it’s best to fill your grocery carts with a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits. In fact, the many colors found in the produce aisle are actually powerful antioxidants that offer significant health benefits to the human body.

And since you’re home now a lot more than before, you may want to try out some different fruits and vegetables for your daily recipes and treats.

But did you know that different colors equate to different benefits with the varying shades of fruits and vegetables providing many antioxidants with a variety of functions?

Orange-yellow fleshed vegetables and fruits like butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and mango are replete with the carotenoid antioxidant beta carotene which can be converted to vitamin A and bolsters immune health. Red-tinged tomatoes, watermelon and grapefruit possess the phytonutrient lycopene which is known for anti-cancer efficacy. Blue and purple options as in blueberries, plums, purple potatoes and the eggplant’s skin are great for brain-boosting due to their anthocyanin antioxidants. Then there’s a potent antioxidant that boosts eye health and is found in healthy amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, plentiful in leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach.

So, mix up your colors and improve your health.

Ward Off Colds and Flu with ‘Superfoods’ of Color

Is it true that you are what you eat? Sure, say dieticians as they speak about vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And with more people stuck in the house, you want to make sure to decrease the chance of someone catching a cold or the flu and passing it on to the rest of the household.

Adding a spice of variety to your diet can be of great benefit — and they’re certainly healthier — sometimes even a bit tastier given time, than the standard fast-food choices you’re used to at McDonald’s, Burger King or the always reliable Popeye’s.

Why not give fish, garlic, citrus fruits, yogurt, skinless turkey breast, blueberries, dark chocolate, or carrots and sweet potatoes a try?

Fish, like salmon or tuna, help reduce harmful inflammation in the body which unchecked prevents the immune system from working properly and therefore contributes to the flu or colds. Most of you know that citrus fruits are filled with vitamin C — a powerful nutrient that may reduce a cold’s duration by about a day or so. Yogurt is one of those probiotic foods that have received a lot of attention recently on TV commercials and are a great way to replenish beneficial strains of bacteria. In regular doses, it promotes digestive health and helps ward off stomach ailments as well as upper respiratory tract infections.

Turkey, without the skin, serves as a high protein, as well as chicken and pork — all of which are essential to our body’s building antibodies and fighting infection. Dark chocolate, ounce for ounce, contains more of the disease-fighting antioxidants, polyphenols, than most berries, and is chockful of zinc as well — another way to boost the immune system. Another way to maintain a strong immune system is eating orange fruits and vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes which are rich in beta carotene. It’s a compound that easily converts into vitamin A — also a tried and true means of maintaining a strong immune system.

Variety is, without question, the spice of life — and an easy way to help fight off colds. Who knew it was so easy to keep the household free of the sniffles and the blahs?

Myths Abound About Anti-Coronavirus Masks

With fears of the coronavirus impacting people in hundreds of nations, folks are swooping up protective face masks in hopes of keeping safe from COVID-19 and keeping it at bay. Some companies in China, for instance, have even required them for their employees. And schools in South Korea have gone one step further, requiring parents to send their kids to school with masks and hand sanitizer.

But the question remains, do the masks work? The answer: it depends.

All viruses are small enough to get through a typical strap-on medical mask but the germs don’t generally spread through the air one at a time, according to medical experts. As viruses ride from person to person on droplets from a sneeze or cough, masks can block large droplets from those coughs and sneezes so they do have some value.

Still, the best way to avoid getting sick is much simpler: wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available. As for masks, they are not currently recommended for the general public but are suggested for people being evaluated for the new virus, those confirmed to have it, household members and caregivers. As for health care workers treating patients with the virus, they are advised by the CDC to take additional precautions like wearing goggles or face shields.

So, while it seems like a great idea and a surefire cure, wearing masks won’t do much for the everyday person — even if they feel like they’re making monumental steps by covering their nose and mouth. Masks look like you’re in the know but those truly in the know are known to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. And that’s the truth.

Cardi B’s Riff Goes Viral on the Coronavirus

A week or two ago, the wild and crazy rapper extraordinaire, Cardi B, posted a short video for her over 60 million Instagram followers which shared how she felt about what’s dominating the news scene: the COVID-19 pandemic. For 45 seconds, she unleashed with a fury of expletives saying things like, “Let me tell y’all something, I ain’t even gonna front, A bitch is scared. I’m a little scared.”

Dressed, as always, provocatively, she takes on the Trump Administration and their response to the coronavirus pandemic, critical of the delay of the shipment of retail goods that suit her fancy before warning her followers to take heed — that the threat is real. Complete with a bevy of “bad words” she proclaims, “Coronavirus! Coronavirus! I’m telling you … is real.”

Before long, a Brooklyn D.J and producer, DJ Markkeyz, noting that his fans were tagging him in the video’s comments with a request — you know what do to — reposted the short riff to his 150,000 followers on Instagram. The rest, as they say, is history after he did what he does best — remixing the riff and sending it all over the planet. Now, the “Coronavirus Remix” has hit No. 1 on iTunes from Brazil and Egypt to Bulgaria, recently cracking the Top 10 of the U.S. iTunes chart.

Once again Cardi B has used her fame to address a topic worthy of social discussion. The DJ says he wanted people to enjoy the short riff but also hoped to show Cardi B the love so many have for her and to illustrate the impact she has on everyone all across the world.

Another hit for the talented Cardi B and a surefire way to get the younger generation to engage in something as serious as life and death itself.

Grandparents Love Their Little Ones Despite Health Risks

Over 6 million children in the U.S. live with a grandparent — 2.4 million of those without a birth parent in the home with the grandparents as the head of the house according to Generations United which advocates for multigenerational families throughout America. Grandparents serve additional roles vital to families including serving as caregivers while their parents work, particularly children under five with one-in-four kids nurtured in such a manner based on data from the last Census.

But with the coronavirus, these multi-faceted grandparents find themselves at a crossroads: forced to choose between their own health or the continued support and care of children who have grown to rely upon them for guidance, care and protection. Many of these grandparents forgo their own health concerns in order to secure better health for their grandchildren. In the process, they risk being exposed to the coronavirus which their grandkids may be carrying.

It’s a real dilemma they now face. For children old enough to understand the danger their grandparents are placing themselves in, they often want their grandmothers and grandfathers to step away from them. In other cases, separation has already taken place with connections only possible through cellphones. Either way it’s painful.

Cellphones May Be Essential But They’re Notorious Germ Carriers

Everyone has a cellphone these days, from kids who can barely write their names to senior citizens who prefer keypads with enlarged letters and numerals. And while they’ve become an extension of our arms, they also can be our worst enemy — especially with the current coronavirus pandemic causing havoc worldwide.

We’re advised to keep our hands clean and off our faces — that’s hard enough. But your phone, as a “high-touch surface,” is something that our fingertips touch with great frequency. And that surface is a great germ carrier. What’s more, the CDC still has no real idea how long the virus can cling to a surface — but they say it could be a few hours or days.

So, you may want to start a new regiment: cleaning your cellphone frequently, along with the protective cases and delicate glass that keep your cellphone from being damaged.

Don’t use spray cleaners or heavy-duty products; don’t use bleach or aerosol sprays and of course, don’t dunk your phone in water. But what are the do’s to clean that infernal contraption?

The CDC suggests Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or one with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. EPA-registered household disinfectants will work too. And, believe it or not, when you’re cleaning your phone, you’re advised to wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done. Even reusable gloves can hold virus particles so only one use is effective and safe.

Make sure you wipe your phone’s case, too. You may even want to wipe it down, in and out, very thoroughly and then let it dry before reassembling. Finally, you’re safest if you keep your filthy phone away from your face — that means use headphones or a Bluetooth so you can hear and be protected.

Wow! Now we have to clean our hands, keep our hands away from our nose, mouth and face … and keep the gadgets cleaned regularly. That’s what you get when you become hooked on the new technology.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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