Anti-Viral Mask Innovation Brings Hope

Isabel Escobar, a professor in chemical and materials engineering, holds two versions of the plastic support lattice and a vial of the membrane material to inactivate the
COVID-19 virus.

The Pandemic has been hard on me. Especially because I have four different autoimmune diagnoses and am therefore immunocompromised. Writing about COVID-19 provides me some purpose during this time of lockdown. Sure, the country seems to be opening back up but the infection rates are not slowing down and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. Not to mention all of the people who are against wearing a mask.

So, If you need me, I’ll be at home. I’m not that brave – or stupid.

While here are home, I’ll continue reaching out to innovators and community leaders to get their stories of how they are trying to help during this pandemic. This gives me hope. Like my most recent story of Isabel Escobar and Eric Wooldridge. Researchers innovating an anti-viral mask here in Kentucky and making science work for us in amazing ways.

Isabel is a membrane scientist. Eric is an additive manufacturing expert (3D printing). Together they have created a new kind of mask filter. One that not only filters the air as you breath through it but one that actually kills pathogens that come in contact with it.

Escobar wanted to provide “passive disinfection” in a mask. She explained that “the presence of silver nanoparticles provides a secondary barrier in the form of inactivation of any viruses that accumulate on a mask.” Simply put, silver nanoparticles target and inactivate all viruses and bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Read the full article at the link below

To read more of my articles about COVID-19, the tips from experts and stories of community members on how we’re getting through, click the links below.

When School and Therapy Go Online, Access to Internet Is Crucial for Children with Special Needs
Asymptomatic Teens and Mental Health Concerns
Grow Flowers and Foster Mental Health: The Benefits of Gardening
Stocking Your Pantry to Cook Take Out Favorites at Home

COVID-19 Coverage: Internet Is Crucial for Children with Special Needs

Leigh Taylor takes photos of the Maddox Family for article about Internet being crucial for families with special needs.
Leigh Taylor takes photos of the Maddox family for the article.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has transferred everything online making internet crucial in the home. This means that for children with special needs, even some therapies needed to switch to online “teletherapies” which required another layer of adjustments. But for those who don’t have internet access, or those in rural communities who must rely on data, it meant therapy was expensive or all together unrealistic.

An innovative and technological future that provides services during extreme times while underscoring services regularly, is an ideal that comes at a cost to populations already underserved. 

Read my linked below. I talked to Clinical experts as well as education experts about this very real Internet inequity for the Appalachian region of Kentucky and what professionals and families are doing to bridge the gaps now and into the future.

If you like this article you may also like more COVID-19 coverage from me that looks at how this pandemics is affecting kids:
CDC Guidelines: 10 Quarantine Do’s and Don’ts for Teenagers
Asymptomatic Teens and Mental Health Concerns
Grow Flowers and Foster Mental Health: The Benefits of Gardening
Stocking Your Pantry to Cook Take Out Favorites at Home

Thanks for reading! You can also find a detailed catalog of my work by clicking the Articles and Clips tab in the menu bar.

The ‘Not All…’ Rebuttal Debate Continues

How about saying “Not all protesters are looters?” That’s the snarky response I’ve gotten the most as a rebuttal to my recent op-ed titled “Not the time for ‘not all’ rebuttals to racism.” I even received the bellow email from a reader that I’ve decided to share my response to with the encouragement from Enquirer Opinion Editor Kevin Aldridge. Here’s the reader email:

Dear Ms. Feldkamp:

Please consider the following challenge. Try to look at it as an invitation to exercise your skills at listening to and understanding others’ perspectives.

Write another version of your opinion article in the June 7, 2020, Enquirer, this time using the headline “Not the time for ‘not all’ rebuttals to rioting, looting, destroying property, and injuring innocent people.” Try to structure it the same way you structured your article. Then submit it to the Enquirer for publication.

Are you game to take this challenge? Being in your position as [communications] director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, it will make me really wonder if you’re not.”

Dear Sir,

Thank you for reading and taking the time to write a response.

My mom died when I was seven. I couldn’t fully process its effect on me until years later and through my adolescence I raged, I destroyed property, and I hurt innocent people. In middle school, I was arrested for destroying a wooden fence behind what was then a fast-food restaurant. When the police officer showed up, he didn’t believe I was the one who’d done it. My group of friends included two male friends who were with me when it happened. I told the cop I had done it. He still didn’t believe me until after he compared my bloody fists to those of my male friends. They were innocent.

When I went to court, my punishment was to write an essay about ten positive ways I could deal with my anger. The result was I did not end up with vandalism on my record. I can’t help but wonder now if being a white girl played into my light sentence.

I was angry, I was grief-stricken, and unable to process such a great loss. This may not seem relevant but hang in there with me and I’ll explain.

I have a hard time labeling looters or even differentiating looting from other forms of protest. I was certainly protesting when I destroyed that fence. I was also forcing my father to deal with me while he was having a hard time processing his own troubles.

I had lost one invaluable person – my mother.

What we are experiencing in the aftermath of George Floyd and Breona Taylor’s murders are examples of open, active grieving from the community.

The black community has not lost one person. They have lost generations of family members. They have lost family names, lineage, languages, traditions, dignity, and still continue on with no opportunity to grieve what they’ve already lost, because they just keep losing.

I recently interviewed Mark McConville, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and author of the book Failure to Launch. We talked about some of the reasons adolescents struggle in their transition to adulthood. McConville says many people struggle to achieve the three skills of adulthood, which are to become Responsible, Relational, and Relevant. And the more you layer on trauma, the harder it becomes.

I shared my story of rebellion and destruction with Dr. McConville, and also told him how, following my destructive teens, I ended up homeless for two years – floundering until I found my footing as an adult.

Dr. McConville told me, “If you think of the alternative as being deeply bereft and depressed… or becoming void of any emotional expression, then what you did is far preferable.” What rebellion and protest says is “I am not going to succumb to this loss, I’m going to do everything I can to recruit adults so like-it-or-not they’re going to have to be involved in my life. I tend to think of that as heroic.”

Protesters. Looters. Those destroying property. All are protesting. Standing up and acting out, and forcing a system built on inequities to like-it-or-not be involved in community change that addresses its failures.

Even as a homeless person, which was not easy for me, I know that my privilege gave me an advantage to make it through. So, while it’s not the time for “Not All…” rebuttals of any kind, maybe it’s also not the time to get caught up in semantics with tit-for-tat conversations. We are an adolescent nation under trauma looking to take that leap into maturity which requires us as a nation to become Responsible, Relational, and Relevant into a better future.

This was the op-ed that spurred the retorts

For more articles on social justice go to my Articles and Clips page.

“Not All…” Rebuttals to Racism

Stop Racism. Stop "Not All..." Rebuttals to Racism.
Canva Image

I see a lot of justification for racism and defense of the “good guys” happening in my social media feeds. It needs to stop.. White people needing to defend with constant “Not All…” retorts when met with examples of yet another cop doing horrific things in the name of “keeping the peace,” or another White woman armed with a cell phone. I decided to address it in an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

We have enough division and isolation in our lives right now. We should be pulling one another closer in comfort instead of pouring energy into worrisome differentiating. People are dying from heinous acts within a system meant to protect and serve. These two incidents happening within a week of one another prove that racism not only exists in our society and in our law enforcement, it proves that racism is prevalent enough that a white woman in New York City’s Central Park was confident enough to call upon it in her time of humiliation.

Hopefully, the op-ed is read with open hearts and minds with the intention of making this county better for everyone. Read the full op-ed at the link below.

If you enjoyed this op-ed and want to read more, check out my Articles and Clips page or click on the links below for more social justice.

Commentary Pulitzer Winner, Unusual?

Long form essay takes the Commentary Pulitzer for 2020

Dana Canedy speaks at the 2019 SPJ region 4 conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
Dana Canedy speaks at the 2019 SPJ region 4 conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

In March of 2019 I had the pleasure of seeing Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy speak at the region 4 conference for the Society of Professional Journalists in Cleveland, Ohio. Her talk was inspiring and I tweeted a few quotes from her. Like this one:

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Fast forward to when the 2020 Pulitzers were announced. I remembered Ms. Canedy’s talk. Since I’m the Communications Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists I especially took interest in the Commentary Pulitzer winner.

Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary with her essay from the newspaper’s 1619 project “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.” This extraordinary essay not only stands out for its Pulitzer Prize quality but also for its unprecedented length. A single essay of more than 7,000 words has never won the Pulitzer Prize in the Commentary category. Traditionally, a columnist has won that category with a series of columns.  

I had to talk to Ms. Canedy and learn more about this Pulitzer selection. I was thrilled that she was gracious enough to talk with me and give me her insight about what I thought was an out-of-the-box pick for the Pulitzer. You can read our full Q&A at the link below.

If you like this article and want to read more insight on column-writing check out my articles and clips page you check out a few samples below.

Quarantine Cooking

Paratha for quarantine cooking

It was my husband’s insight that helped me plan for “quarantine cooking.” I tend to draw from my parenting experience when I write so it was nice to start with Felipe this time. 😊 While Frozen Pizza and Mac-n-Cheese flew off the grocery store shelves my husband steered us towards the international isle to load up on rice, beans, and bouillon cubes. My husband’s mother is Mexican born and knows how to cook delicious meals from scratch using basic dry stock goods.

Sahibzada Farhana Quarantine Cooking
Sahibzada Farhana

Chef Farhana Sahibzada has the impulse – to return to traditional food cooked from dry stock goods that have a long shelf life. She says her quarantine cooking habits start with lentils and homemade paratha. Her recipe she was gracious enough to share with me for the article. It’s from her cookbook Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking for families to try at home. She also has YouTube Tutorials for some of her recipes that are helpful.

“Most families have only so much freezer space. Instead of stocking up on ready-made mac-n-cheese or frozen pizza, save that space for perishables like meat, dairy, and vegetables. Then stock your pantry with basic dry ingredients that have a long shelf life. This pandemic has given many families the gift of time, so why not use some of that time for cooking meals from scratch, together?”

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Read more about Chef Farhana and get that Paratha recipe at the link below.

If you like this article about Quarantine Cooking check out a few of my other links about #QuarantineLife:

CDC Guidelines: 10 Quarantine Do’s and Don’ts for Teenagers
Asymptomatic Teens and Mental Health Concerns
Grow Flowers and Foster Mental Health: The Benefits of Gardening

Foster Mental Health with Gardening

Whether we’re quarantined or not, spring is here. We could all use a little more wellness in our lives, and gardening may just be the answer for you and your teen. As an adult, my garden is my happy place.The seeds of this love were planted as a child. I call it “dirt church” now and, it turns out, there’s some science to it. When gardening, you can foster mental health with gardening.

My love of gardening led me to a pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Rameshwari V. Tumuluru, in Pittsburgh who developed a wellness garden for her hospitalized patients. I know gardening helps me cope. She helped me apply mindfulness concepts to gardening in quarantine with teens.

I also interviewed Scott Beuerlein, the Manager of Botanical Garden Outreach, and Shasta Bray, the Manager of Interpretive Exhibits, Visitor Research, Conservation Communications & Fun both with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. They provide practical advice for starting small and emphasized that every litte bit helps our environment.

Green space and flowers for pollinators have become scarce in some urban and suburban areas, the value of grass and roadside weeds to the birds and bees is minimal. Even a potted flower on the balcony provides an option that wasn’t there before and the pollinators will find you.

Think of the bird who finds a boat and stops to rest on its trip across an ocean. That’s what your garden provides for pollinators. Your garden, or the pot of flowers on your front porch, provides refuge for both you and the butterfly that finds you.

Read the article in the link below to see how you and your teen can Foster Mental Health with Gardening.

You might find these articles on helping teens through this pandemic helpful:
CDC Guidelines: 10 Quarantine Do’s and Don’ts for Teenagers
Asymptomatic Teens and Mental Health Concerns
Grow Flowers and Foster Mental Health: The Benefits of Gardening

For a complete list of articles by me, visit my Articles and Clips page.

Foster Mental Health with Gardening

A Better Evil Chemical?

The WCPO I-Team in Cincinnati has been investigating the risk of a “better evil” chemical or GenX contamination in our region by reviewing medical research and water-quality reports that show how much of the compound finds its way into our drinking water. While GenX concentrations here are lower than other cities, it’s difficult to say whether those concentrations are safe because research is evolving on these unregulated chemicals.

I was happy to be interviewed for this story to talk about my family’s history with lead poisoning, my water quality research for the Good River: Stories of the Ohio series and why that prompted us to buy a Big Berkey Water Filter for our house.

Along with this three-minute news segment, journalist Dan Monks wrote a more comprehensive article to go with it as well. You can read that here:

For more reading about chemicals in our water here in the tri-state check our my article We mapped out the toxic wastewater discharges along the Ohio River. Here’s what we learned. For more of my work on water quality and the environment check out my clips page.

Staying Home: Hard but Necessary for Teens

Parenting in a Pandemic

Sometimes we just need to help our kids put things in perspective. Here’s my latest on parenting through this pandemic for Your Teen for Parents.

“Parents can help their teens make something meaningful from this difficult time of social distancing. Does Grandma live with you? Does your teen have a friend with asthma? Encourage empathy in your teen with a real face. Realizing their social distancing behavior will help someone they know may change the experience from a burden to an act of love and compassion for someone specific in their life.”

Your Teen for Parents

Read the full article at the link below

For more help on #ParentingInAPandemic read my article 10 Quarantine Do’s and Don’ts for Teenagers. For more of my articles on parenting or coronavirus click here.

Are there enough hospital beds and ventilators in Ohio for COVID-19 patients?

Are there enough hospital beds and ventilators in Ohio for COVID-19 patients? Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism tried to find out.

The Ohio Department of Health gets daily updates on the total number of beds and ventilators that could be available for COVID-19 patients at hospitals throughout the state. But so far the agency hasn’t provided any hospital-by-hospital breakdown, and the agencies that collect capacity information on their behalf have also declined to release their assessments.

The result: Ohioans don’t know how many beds and ventilators are available where they live. Timely and meaningful knowledge could benefit Ohioans from a health perspective, while also helping them understand the range of public policy issues surrounding the crisis.

The availability of resources to care for COVID-19 patients could mean life or death for thousands of Ohioans.

Ohio Center for Investigative Journalsim

Read the full article at the link below

Interview for WOSU All Things Considered

I also had the opportunity to talk to Clare Roth at WOSU Radio for All Things Considered. Are there enough hospital beds and ventilators in Ohio for COVID-19 patients?

Grateful to have this article picked up by several news outlets throughout Ohio:

To read more of my work with the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism go to my Clips page.