Coronavirus Can Feel Like a Stomach Flu…And Media Often Doesn’t Talk About It

A couple of weeks ago, I had what felt like a long-lasting stomach flu. The rest of my family, around the same general time period, also came down with what felt like the same long-lasting stomach flu.

Thankfully, it likely was a stomach flu, or perhaps a norovirus. I say this because on both rapid tests and PCR tests, my younger brother and I both tested negative for COVID.

Yet, along the way with these stomach bugs, my family learned from our family pharmacist that a lot of people who feel like they have stomach flus actually have the Coronavirus. This is something that a lot of news media doesn’t seem to be covering, so I want to: a) highlight how COVID right now can resemble a stomach flu and b) highlight the injustice about the fact that media isn’t giving more attention to this fact.

North of the border in Canada, there are reports of more patients with the virus whose primary symptoms involve stomach issues, such as vomiting.[1] Back at home here in the United States, the Mount Sinai Health System here in New York reports that COVID-19 may cause stomach flu-like symptoms, even if there are no issues with breathing.[2] Unfortunately I was not able to find statistics on precisely what percentage of COVID cases, particularly with this Omicron variant, have symptoms primarily involving the stomach, but it’s clearly a large enough percentage to get the attention of a large hospital system in New York as well as public broadcasting media in Canada.

And it seems like media is giving little, if any, attention to the fact that COVID could present itself as predominantly (or solely) like a stomach flu. This is unfortunate and unjust because, quite frankly, it is leading a whole population of people (of which I was one) to think that if you have symptoms that resemble a stomach flu, you can just brush things off as a stomach flu. In doing this, a large number of people may end up having COVID and not realize it.

So, I hope media does a better job of covering how the virus can act like a stomach flu. And, in general, I hope that news media really doubles down on making sure the general public is educated on what sorts of symptoms to look out for with this virus, as well as continue to highlight the fact that one can have the virus asymptomatically.

Until then, though, I want all who read this post to realize that if you have what feels like a stomach virus, you should test for Coronavirus, and at that, ideally test with a PCR test (since those are more accurate than at-home tests). Perhaps you have a stomach flu, but perhaps you have COVID-19 instead.

Note: I will not publish a blog post next Monday.


[1] https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-gastro-symptoms-1.6431665

[2] https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/viral-gastroenteritis-stomach-flu

What Are…Punitive, Restorative, and Transformative Justice?

For quite some time, I’ve heard discussions about the differences between punitive and restorative justice. However, while starting to do research on a “what is” post comparing the two, I discovered yet another type of justice that is getting talked about more: transformative justice.

All that being said, what are punitive, restorative, and transformative justice?

In summary:

  • Punitive justice focuses on punishing the wrongdoer for the action that is wrong.
  • Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm of the crime instead of taking retribution.[1]
  • Transformative justice focuses on reforming or overhauling systems that played a part in the wrongdoing in the first place.[2]

The difference between these three approaches to justice is stark yet important, because the differing approaches mean differing attitudes towards how various crimes and criminals are treated.

To illustrate this, I will use a hypothetical example: a kid who was bullied in a schoolyard and responded back by punching the bully. The punitive justice approach to this would involve the person who punched getting punished for the punch, as well as the bully getting punished for the bullying. For the same sort of situation, the restorative justice approach might involve a meeting in the school office involving the kids (and possibly their parents) to discuss where the bullying stemmed from, how it resulted in the punch, and how both can be addressed. A transformative justice approach in this sort of situation would involve a schoolwide (or districtwide) review of school bullying policies so as to make sure there are stronger anti-bullying protections, anti-bullying education, and making it easier for someone who gets bullied to bring it to the attention of a teacher or school staff person.

Personally, I am a fan of getting to the root cause of a problem and addressing it—as such, my approach of preference, if I had to choose one, would be transformative justice, whenever possible. Unfortunately, the will to do the sort of transformative justice required to address certain crimes is often lacking, therefore resulting in large-scale transformative justice sometimes being out of reach.

Restorative justice fails to bring that systemic transformative change, yet has become popular due to its being a way of (in some cases with the criminal justice system in the United States) addressing the issue without contributing to mass incarceration. It is the type of justice that allows for low-level drug offenders to go into treatment for drug rehab instead of entering prison without that rehab. On a related note, it must be said that transformative justice, in some cases, can get to the root cause of certain issues an individual may have, even if it doesn’t get to root systemic issues.

Punitive justice, on the other hand, is the makeup of a lot of punishment in the American criminal justice system. And, at times, the criminal justice system is critiqued for being overly punitive, like in cases where criminals end up with long prison sentences for the aforementioned low-level drug offenses. Some believe that such bruising punishments can act as a deterrent to other people, yet at the same time, there are at least some types of crimes where it must be questioned whether a punitive approach is really the wisest one.

Hopefully, this post helps separate what punitive, restorative, and transformative justice all are. That being said, if you have questions or comments about any or all of these terms, feel free to comment below!


[1] https://emu.edu/now/restorative-justice/2011/03/10/restorative-or-transformative-justice/

[2] Ibid.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: May 5, 2022

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you live.

Even though I have now had a couple of close brushes with COVID (another scare happened soon after Easter, when one of the people I ate Easter lunch with outdoors tested positive a few days later), I continue to remain COVID-free as the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant continues to spread in New York City. The rest of my household also remains without COVID.

Speaking of boosters, I am glad to say that my parents received their second boosters! Both of them experienced some side effects from the second booster, but getting the second booster still most certainly beats getting hit seriously with the virus itself. And as a side benefit, our household got four free COVID tests! All the tests expired at the end of April though, so we had to use them quickly (and use them we did).

The BA.2 subvariant, on the other hand, continues to spread significantly in New York City. The level of spread is, at least for me, high enough to act with caution, high enough for me to currently avoid larger gatherings while being unmasked, and high enough to not want to eat indoors right now. It also means that when I go to a gathering with several people, I like to get tested so as to make sure I wouldn’t contribute to a super spreader event of any kind.

One sobering note I will end this post on is that there is a high likelihood that we will have surpassed 1 million deaths from COVID by the time I write my monthly update in June. We are approaching as many lives lost as there are people in San Jose, California. If that isn’t sobering, I don’t know what is.

That is it for me, for now. As always, I look forward to hearing how others are faring!

The Importance of Teaching Public Speaking in Schools

When I tell friends that I was on my high school’s speech and debate team, and that more specifically, I did something called extemporaneous speaking—a category where I had to make and then deliver a speech on a current events topic I drew in just half an hour—they tend to be horrified at the thought of trying to do the same thing, impressed that I was able to do this, or a little bit of both. Then, when I add that this experience with speech and debate significantly improved my comfort level with public speaking, some of the people who hear this say that they are so terrified of public speaking.

And it’s not just anecdotal experience that has shown me that a lot of us are afraid of public speaking. A survey of Americans’ top fears in 2020-21 found that 29% were either afraid or very afraid of public speaking. Another way to put this into context is that there are about as many Americans likely to be afraid of public speaking as they are of dying, theft of property, or being unemployed.[1] Our society, on average, is literally as fearful of public speaking as of dying. Let that sink in.

In spite of that fear, public speaking is an important aspect of the daily lives of most people of professional importance. Elected officials, major company CEOs, teachers and professors, nonprofit leaders, influential small business owners, clergy people, newscasters, and athletes are all among the groups of people who find themselves doing public speaking with some frequency. The professions that some, or many, of us aspire to involve some form of public speaking—the very thing that terrifies so many of us as well.

To make those aspirations a more feasible reality for those of us who fear public speaking, I think that public speaking needs to be a part of every high school’s curriculum. Not college—high school. It should be in the curriculum at that level because not everyone completes college, and not everyone even goes to college. Some people end up in positions straight out of high school where the skill of communicating clearly through word of mouth, which is something that comes with learning how to be a good public speaker, is absolutely vital. If we were to wait until college, people who end up in the military straight out of high school (the military being one such position where good communication skills are vital), to use one example, might not be as well-equipped with a public speaking skillset as they would otherwise if it were taught in high school.

As to how it is in the curriculum, it can take multiple forms. Classes with projects where students have to present their projects in front of a class might be a healthy way to give students exposure to public speaking, even if the focus of the class itself isn’t public speaking per se. However, I think that there can (and probably should) be a public speaking class that is a required part of every high school’s curriculum, for every student—not just a speech and debate team that students can choose to either join or not join.

Perhaps, by making sure that every student gets exposed with the opportunity to learn how to perfect their public speaking skills, we can better ensure that public speaking is not a fear that acts as a mental block to pursuing the things some of us hope to do one day.


[1] https://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/research-centers/babbie-center/_files/Babbie%20center%20fear2021/blogpost-americas-top-fears-2020_-21-final.pdf

Self-Care Tips for Long Hours

In the post I wrote last week on self-care tips, I said that I do believe that there is a place for themed self-care tips. One such themed self-care tip that I have experience in is with working long hours, hence my post for today.

Whether it be for a project in high school or college, or ending up working long evenings because of a job I have, I have some experience in trying to take care of myself through working really long hours in order to get work done.

Note that all of these tips are ones that are not time-consuming by design, not by any stretch.

So, without further adieu, here are my self-care tips for working long hours:

  1. Make sure you take breaks to stretch and stand up. I don’t know about others, but if I spend way too long at a computer, my productivity ends up tanking. However, by standing up and stretching, you give yourself a mini-break to recharge and refuel.
  2. When/if you have a longer break during your workday, try to do something relaxing that is not work related. It might be reading a book, taking a walk, praying (if you’re the religious type), or working on a crossword puzzle, but do something to take a break. Otherwise, you may run the risk of getting burnt out.
  3. Feed yourself. I’m going to put my foot down here—it doesn’t matter how busy you are or how much you “don’t have time” to eat. It’s difficult to work productively on an empty stomach, so eat! And ideally, eat a nutritionally balanced meal, not just a bunch of potato chips and a chocolate bar.
  4. Once you’re done with work for the night, take at least 10-15 minutes before you go to bed to do something relaxing. Speaking from my own experiences, if I don’t do that, I have a hard time sleeping and/or I have nightmares related to the work that I do. There was one time I worked three long days in a row, and by the end of it all I was having work-related nightmares—no fun!
  5. If you anticipate working long hours, do try and make sure you get adequate sleep both before and after your day of working long hours. I understand that this can sometimes be difficult depending on life circumstances, but try to get 7-8 hours of sleep before and after the long day of work you’re anticipating so that you’re well rested for the work you have to do.
  6. If you anticipate working several long days in short succession, and you accumulate time off with your job, consider taking a day off (or even a morning or afternoon off from work) after those long days are over so that you can get some rest. Some jobs result in your accumulating compensatory time off instead of overtime. If that is the case, then consider using some of it in order to get rest after working several long days in short succession.

These are a few of the tips I have for working long hours. If others have additional tips beyond what I have here, please let me know in the comments section below!