Newsletter & Covid-19 Info

SOWN Together was SOWN's Covid-19 newsletter for Philadelphia area older adults, which was funded by The Knight-Lenfest Fund, The Independence Public Media Foundation, Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and Knight Foundation. Its goal was to provide a trusted source of information to older adults so they would feel empowered to make more informed decisions related to the coronavirus pandemic. Our Covid-19 information updates continue in the spirit of SOWN Together and are funded by the Philanthropy Network's COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund and Temple University's COVID-19 Trauma-Informed Workforce Initiative Fund.

SOWN Together

Issue 1

Welcome to the First Issue of SOWN Together Of the many services SOWN provides, a newsletter is the newest. It is designed for all participants, past and present, and was named by Saundra Atwell, a current member of Philly Families Connect. Here’s what it does for everyone:

  • SOWN Together provides current and correct information about the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
  • SOWN Together has stories from our readers, links for finding services, and sometimes a recipe.
  • SOWN Together responds to your questions, invites your suggestions, and welcomes your contributions to future issues.
Twins? Now!?
Tonya McBryde was the first person to join the first group of Philly Families Read Together. I spoke with Tonya in late July. Following is her experience of living in a world dominated by COVID-19. Q.: When did you first hear about COVID-19?

I first learned about the new virus at the end of March. People were talking more and more as it went on. There were 12 deaths and then more in different states. I got news daily from Channel 6 and CNN. Q.: How did you respond? I knew I had to act fast for masks, sanitizer, gloves – but nothing was left! I was looking for something in our cleaning closet and found masks and gloves. I
didn’t know they were there! Q.: How do you stay safe? I have a sign in the bathroom and kitchen, “Wash your hands.” Anyone other than family coming into the house, put on a mask. Anyone leaving the house, put on a mask. The oldest grandchild watches the news with us. I explain, “You have to be safe.” She knows and will say, “Mom-mom, I need my mask.” Q.: Is there a blessing in all this? My grandchildren are 7 years old, 4 years old, and the twins are 4 months. When my daughter went to the hospital, she had wipes and wore double masks in the delivery room. The twins lighten our world. One is attached to Pop-pop; one is in her own world. They are changing every day.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Tonya who she thought could explain to the younger generation how serious this is? She didn’t miss a beat to say, “Michelle Obama!” “Herd Immunity”
What’s that? When doctors and reporters describe what it will take to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, or any virus, they talk about “herd immunity.” The “herd” is humans, “immunity” is protection, and it all depends upon having a vaccine against COVID-19. Here’s how it works. A vaccine contains a weakened fragment of a disease. When you're vaccinated against a specific disease, such as measles or shingles, it triggers your body's immune response to produce antibodies that naturally fight that particular disease.
Without being vaccinated, an individual who comes into contact with a person infected with the corona virus is likely to become infected and can infect another person. It starts an unbroken chain of passing the virus from person to person to person to person, and so on.
Getting vaccinated breaks that chain of transmission. Like before, an unvaccinated individual who comes into contact with a person infected with the corona virus is likely to become infected. But if that individual has been inoculated, she or he will neither catch the virus nor pass it to anyone else.
Fewer people will be infected past that point, which breaks the chain of transmission. In fact, when more people are inoculated fewer people get sick. That’s herd immunity.
Over 400 vaccines and treatments are being tested by drug companies, universities, and medical centers to produce an effective and safe vaccine. It is likely that the United States will have at least one such vaccine by 2021. Once the vaccine is fully tested and available, herd immunity will be an important part of overcoming COVID-19. [Information for this article was collect online from The Daily Pennsylvanian, WEBMD HEALTH NEWS, and United Press International.]
  • Comcast extends free high-speed web services to 12/2020

    • Comcast will continue to offer 60 days of free internet service for new low-income customers who sign up for Comcast’s low-income broadband program, called Internet Essentials. This offer extends through the end of the year. After that period, the service costs $9.95 a month. To learn if you qualify, go to or call 1 (855) 846-8376. If you call, be prepared to wait on hold for a long time.

  • Philly Families Read Together is a free SOWN literacy program for grandparents who are deeply involved in the lives of their young grandchildren. To learn more, contact Jessica Begley at or call 215-487-3000 ext. 24.

August 13, 2020

Issue 2

We’re pleased to present Issue #2 of SOWN Together, a newsletter with current and correct information about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Enjoy and stay well. This issue includes resources we can all use and the story of how one doctor is delivering services during the pandemic. Your Voice Counts. Be Sure Your Vote is Counted. You must be registered to vote. Questions about registration, mail-in ballots, and voting deadlines can be answered online If you prefer, you can call for:

  • Election-related information, Mr. Garrett Dietz, Supervisor of Elections: 215-686-3469
  • Voter registration information, Mr. Greg Irving, Acting Voter Registration Administrator: 215-686-1590
Free Library of Philadelphia Homebound Services Home delivery of library materials is a free service for times you are unable to leave your home. Applications for a homebound library card are by telephone. Benefits of a homebound card:
  • A loan period of up to six weeks.
  • No fee on overdue materials.
  • Books can be requested by title.
  • Assistance in selecting books by category.
Call 215-686-5411. You’ll get a recording of options. Choose the one for Homebound. Email A Doctor Decides to do Something Dr. Ala Stanford may have thought of the old saying, “When white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia,” when she saw that Black and brown residents in Philadelphia were getting sick with COVID-19 in greater numbers than white residents. The question was not, “How can that be?” The question for Dr Stanford was, “What’s being done about it?” Nowadays, she is no longer asking. Dr. Stanford is doing. In mid-April, she launched the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium (BDCC), an independent mobile testing unit. Dr. Stanford rented a van, gathered supplies, asked for volunteers, and began traveling to parts of the city where more people were sick, but fewer services were available. The pandemic has not slowed down and neither has Dr. Stanford. By late July, BDCC had tested 7,000 people. To see the BDCC schedule for free testing, go to Economic Impact Payment The IRS has announced that eligible people with dependent children have until the end of September to register. To ask questions & get answers, email or call the IRS at 800-917-9835. Herd Immunity Update We wondered if we were a herd and how many of us must be vaccinated to create herd immunity. Having 60-70% of a population vaccinated would create immunity and slow the spread of a virus. We also learned we’re not a herd, we’re a flock. The 2020 Census The results of the census shape how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are sent to communities for school lunches, hospitals, roads, fire departments, and more. To complete the questionnaire by phone, call 844-330-2020 or go to August 27, 2020

Issue 3

By November 3, this country will be in the throes of electing its next president. Join the millions of citizens who have the right to vote. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t vote or that your vote doesn’t count. You can and it does. Cleaning from A to Z or How to Stay Safe in Your Home in Spite of the Pandemic There’s a right way and a wrong way to wear a mask. Be sure to cover your mouth & nose. The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is by washing your hands and practicing physical (social) distancing . . . The desire to clean and disinfect to prevent and protect everyone from COVID-19 is normal. But how much is too much? Are there areas in your home you’re neglecting?
Here’s a list from A to Z of common household items you should clean. We don’t have space for all 26 letters at once, so we’ll in-clude 2-3 letters per issue.
Do you have cleaning tips to share? Let us know by telling your group facilitator or by sending it to Jill Smith, SOWN, 4100 Main Street, Suite 403, Philadelphia, PA 19127 or by emailing jsmith@ A is for Apple
Worried about eating fresh produce? Don’t let the virus stop you from getting a daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Disinfect counter surfaces before preparing food.
Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water and dry with either a paper towel or clean cloth.
With firm fruits such as melons, avocado, and potatoes, simply scrub with a clean vegetable brush.
There’s no need to wash poultry, meat, or eggs because cooking food at recommended temperatures kills the virus. B is for Boxes
Coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. You have a choice:

  • Disinfect your boxes with wipes or spray immediately after delivery. Do this outside as an extra precaution.
  • “Quarantine” your boxes for 24 hours in an out-of-the-way spot before opening.
Either way, make sure you wear gloves and always wash your hands when done.
[This information comes from an online article by Nadine Jolie Courtney:] Please Note: Information used for this article was posted online on April 17, 2020, but information changes rapidly. Please stay tuned as we do our best to keep current with shifting guidelines. Economic Impact Payment
The IRS has announced that eligible people with dependent children have until September 30 to register for an additional $500 per child. Act now! Email or call the IRS at 800-917-9835. Voting Deadlines
If sending applications or ballots through the mail, mail EARLY.
  • October 19 is the deadline to register to vote.
  • October 27 at 5 p.m. is the last day for your county office to receive mail-in and absentee ballot applications.
  • November 3 is election day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be able to vote.
September 15, 2020

Issue 4

Information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 changes almost as rapidly as the virus spreads. This newsletter only skims the surface of what’s on the internet. We want you to be safe and secure in your knowledge of the virus and disease that affect our communities, our country, and the world. We want to prevent you from being misled by false claims or unsupported information.
We encourage you to find information on the following reliable and as-up-to-date-as-possible websites: And listen to this man: Dr. Anthony Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He relies on scientific research about the virus to guide his recommendations. Dr. Fauci doesn’t know everything, but he knows more than most other sources and tells you when he’s wrong. C is for Clothing
Can washing your clothes protect against coronavirus? Yes. The coronavirus seems to survive on fabric between 6-12 hours, but is not strong enough to survive temperatures above 80.6 degrees F. Regular laundering in a home washing machine in the hottest water possible with
regular detergent is enough to remove the virus. Dry on the highest heat that’s safe for your clothes.
D is for Doorknobs
Every time you or the people you live with open a door, you could be contaminating it. Doorknobs are a “high touch surface” that should be disinfected every day. Use a coronavirus cleaning product to wipe or spray down knobs, and then let dry. There are too many products to list here. When looking for the right one, read the label to learn which viruses it eliminates. E is for Electronics It’s a good idea to disinfect home electronics. Put a wipeable cover on keyboards, remote controls, tablets, and touch screens for easier cleaning. Remember to follow manufacturer instructions. If you use an alcohol-based wipe or spray, allow it to air dry thoroughly. [Information for this article was found at:] Resources:

  • Philadelphia is expected to open 15 satellite elections offices where voters can request, receive, fill out, and submit a mail ballot in one stop. Locations will be made public soon.
  • Health Literacy is how you obtain, interpret, and act on health information (see above). Another path to health literacy is to take someone with you to medical appointments. They act as your 2nd set of ears and eyes to record and remember information that may be difficult to take in if you feel anxious.
    • It is your right to:
      • Ask friends whom they go to and trust.
      • Ask for written material related to your visit.
      • Ask the provider to repeat something you did not fully hear or understand.
      • Ask questions.
September 30, 2020

Issue 5

How to Wash Your Hands—Have You Been Doing it Correctly? “I’ve been washing my hands all my life. What am I doing wrong?” You might be surprised. There are at least 8 steps to washing your hands thoroughly to slow the spread of any virus. Wet hands; soap up; scrub between your fingers front & back; wring your thumbs; scrape your knuckles; use your nails to scrub your hands front & back; wash your wrists; dry with clean cloth; don’t touch anything until your hands are dry. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Only use sanitizer when soap/water are not available. Call for Recipes Readers have asked for simple recipes that are nourishing and comforting. Do you have a recipe that uses as few as 4 and no more than 10 ingredients? Send your recipe with clear directions, easy to get ingredients, and your story of why this is a favorite dish. Email or mail to SOWN, 4100 Main Street, Suite 403, Philadelphia, PA 19127, ATTN: Jill Smith. F is for Footwear Early research found coronavirus on the soles of shoes of hospital workers. You might not work in a medical setting, but take off your shoes the moment you enter the house. They’re crawling with viruses and bacteria from everywhere else. Keep them by the door or in a designated area and wear a comfy pair of shoes or slippers in the house. Ask visitors to do the same. G is for Grocery Bags Before COVID-19, you may have used fabric bags to grocery shop. There is no evidence that they help spread coronavirus, but some grocery stores have banned reusable bags. There is no evidence that grocery items, such as pasta boxes, bread loaves, and frozen veggie bags need to be disinfected. Facts support washing your hands before handling any bags or food. Once you’re done putting away the groceries, wipe down countertops with disinfectant and wash your hands again. Don’t touch your face until your hands are clean. Resources: Satellite Election Offices in Philadelphia are open to provide you with one-stop services to register and vote. Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday - 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 1. Center City - City Hall, Room 140, 400 JFK Blvd., 19107 2. Far Northeast - George Washington H.S., 10175 Bustleton Ave., 19116 3. North - The Liacouras Center, 1776 N Broad St., 19121 4. Northwest - Roxborough High School, 6498 Ridge Ave., 19128 5. Southwest - Tilden Middle School, 6601 Elmwood Ave., 19142 6. Upper North - Julia De Burgos Elementary, 401 W Lehigh Ave., 19133 7. West - Overbrook Elem. School, 2032 N 62Nd St., 19151 October 15, 2020

Issue 6

Help for You and How You Can Help Others YOU ARE NOT ALONE Join Philly Families Connect on weekly telephone groups.

  • Connect with other grandparents.
  • Share knowledge and resources.
  • Learn creative parenting ideas.
  • Access to individual counselling.
  • All services are free.
For more information, call Arlene Segal, MS, 215-487-3000 ext.11. ONLINE READING SUPPORT FOR GRADES K-3 If you know how to use the internet, consider volunteering for Philly Reading Coaches (PRC) in a virtual format. Each child receives 25 books at her/his home and gets support online from trained volunteers. Volunteers and students work in a secure online setting. You’ve got time; you’ll get training; children are waiting. Email or call 215-686-0317. DON’T FACE THE PANDEMIC BY YOURSELF Join other women for an 8-week telephone group. All you need is a phone and 1 hour a week. For more information, call Patty Davis, LCSW, 215-487-3000 ext. 25 or Debby Davis, LCSW, 215-487-3000 ext. 13. H is for Hands As you know, this is a big one, and can’t be repeated often enough. Issue #5 showed you how to wash your hands. Here’s when: 1) after interacting with another person, 2) after touching a high-touch surface, or 3) as soon as you return home from an excursion outside. Hand washing remains one of the best ways to slow the spread of coronavirus or any virus. [Information for this alphabet was taken from coronavirus-cleaning-disinfect/] I is for iPhone Cell phones were included in E is for Electronics. Here are specific directions for disinfecting your phone daily:
  • Use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes.
  • Remove the case and clean separately.
  • Avoid ports (where you plug in earbuds or the charger) and the speaker.
J is for Jar Covid-19 could last on glass and stainless steel somewhere from 3-7 days. Options for jars and cans:
  • Quarantine them for up to a week before use or
  • Disinfect before using with wipes or spray or
  • Wash with old reliable - soap and water.
  • Questions about COVID-19? If you have questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus, you can use the 24/7 helpline to talk to a medical professional. Call 800-722-7112.
  • PENNSYLVANIA COUNTS! The Supreme Court has allowed Pennsylvania election officials to count mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day. Don’t wait! Vote now! Ballots must be postmarked by November 3rd.
October 30, 2020

Issue 7

Vulnerable to More Than the Virus SCAM: to obtain money or personal information by dishonest means. Older adults are considered easy targets for scammers who take advantage of our fears. Despite everything we’ve learned about the coronavirus, there are many things we do not know. Scammers claim to have knowledge and cures for COVID-19. Use your instincts.

  • If a person, group, or internet page seems fake, it probably is.
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it’s a scam.
Action Steps to Protect Yourself Hang up on robocalls. Scammers pitch fake coronavirus treatments to get your money and personal information. Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers sell fake products claiming to treat or prevent the coronavirus. Don’t respond to requests for money from the government. Scammers falsely claim they can get you the money now. They cannot. Fact-check information. Check trusted sources such as federal, state, and local government websites. Do not share what is not true. Never send a donation in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money. [This information comes from a trusted source:] The Cleaning-by-the-Alphabet Feature is Out and Current Trusted Sources are In We warned you. Information about COVID-19 changes so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up with causes, treatments, and vaccine developments. It finally happened. The April 2020 information used for cleaning-by-the-alphabet is out-of-date. Trusted sources agree that the primary way people are infected is through person-to-person droplet transmission via sneezing or coughing or standing near an infected person, not via contact transmission from surfaces. Continue to wash and disinfect as you wish, but the best protection against coronavirus is simply to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash your hands. No more alphabet, but we promise to keep you informed. There’s still so much to tell you. Sources for additional clear, direct information are online at or by phone at 800-722-7112. Call for Recipes We’re waiting for your recipes for nourishing and comforting food.
Send recipes to:
Attn: Jill Smith
4100 Main St. #403
Philadelphia, PA 19127
Resources: Join Philly Families Connect on weekly telephone groups.
  • Connect with other grandparents.
  • Share knowledge and resources.
  • Learn creative parenting ideas.
  • Access individual counselling.
  • All services are free.
For more information, call Arlene Segal, MS, 215-487-3000 ext.11. Join other women for an 8-week telephone group. All you need is a phone and 1 hour a week. For more information, call Patty Davis, LCSW, 215-487-3000 ext. 25. November 15, 2020

Issue 8

Wondering if You Should Get a Flu Shot this Winter? The Harvard Women’s Health Watch says, “YES, YES, YES!” It will reduce the likelihood of getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from influenza. The shot can reduce the severity of having the flu.

COVID-19 and the flu share similar symptoms. If you are at risk for getting COVID-19 and get sick, being protected against the flu reduces the possibility of confusing the two. You might have COVID-19 and should seek care immediately.
The Rewards of Walking

  • Improves sleep.
  • Reduces risk of falling.
  • Improves balance.
  • Improves joint mobility.
  • Adds years of active life.
  • Prevents weak bones and muscle loss.
  • Slows mental decline.
  • All journeys begin with one step.
  • Start at your own pace.
  • Keep track of each outing (date, time, distance, effort, weather, with whom).
  • Go alone or with a friend.
  • Enjoy the rewards.
  • Wear a mask!

SOWN Quilt

In 2004, SOWN celebrated its 20th Anniversary by creating a beautiful quilt in black, red, and white – the colors of SOWN. Prints and patterns were chosen accordingly. Even when using the same instructions, each square was as unique as each group. The SOWN staff pieced it together and June Siegal, now retired from SOWN, expertly backed and sewed it together.

The quilt traveled to SOWN groups for contributors to see their finished work. Today, the quilt hangs proudly in our office.


If you get a call from or about a grandchild or another relative being in danger or trouble, what do you do?

If the immediate request is for cash,

  • take a moment to calm yourself,

  • say you have to talk to another family member first, and

  • hang up.

Then check with someone you trust to determine if the emergency is real. If it is, respond appropriately. The odds point to it not being real and you have protected yourself and your personal information.


Technology Help for Seniors

  • Connect to the internet.

  • Use a computer, tablet, or mobile devices.

  • Use Zoom to connect with family, friends, or social events.

Contact SOWN's Digital Navigator by phone: 215-487-3003 ext. 24 or email:

SOWN Together #9

Our next issue will feature interviews with members of SOWN phone groups to tell us about the changes they’ve made to be safe during the pandemic. STAY TUNED!

November 30, 2020

Issue 9

Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
  • Use trustworthy sources for information.
  • Take care of your body:
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or sit quietly.
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind.
  • Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others.
  • Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. This could include a SOWN telephone support group. Call 215-487-3000.

Set a different type of goal—not how many times a week you exercise, but “I want to be stronger.” Taking care of your body is a way to become stronger. Go at your own pace—not what you think you should do, but what you are able to do. Include some movement of your body—to the best of your ability—everyday.

Vaccine: What is It? How Does it Work? Who’s Going to Get It?

Vaccines work by teaching the body’s immune system to recognize and block viruses. Vaccines trigger the immune system’s T-helper cells that detect a virus is present. They direct:

  • B-cells to create antibodies that block the virus from being able to duplicate.

  • T-killer cells to destroy infected cells.

The populations most at risk for COVID-19 will be among the first to receive the vaccine—staff in nursing homes, health care workers, and elderly people with underlying health issues.

[From “Covid vaccine update: Tracking progress against coronavirus” - Washington Post]

The COVID-19 vaccine is made from a very weak strain of the coronavirus. If you have a reaction to the shot—sore at the site of the shot, mild fever, some aches—that means your body recognizes the virus and is starting to fight it.

The Holidays are Upon Us Continue to wear a mask that covers your mouth and —very important!—your nose.
Limit contact with people outside and inside your home.
Spread holiday wishes with cards and phone calls to friends and family and neighbors.
Bake your favorite holiday treat.
Enjoy the lights in your neighborhood.
Listen to music that lifts your spirits.
Light a candle to remind yourself the darkness will begin to lift on Winter Solstice, December 21. December 15, 2020

Issue 10

Joan Marra: Controlled by a Colony of Cats Joan is a member of a SOWN telephone support group. She is 84 and sounds years younger when she talks about her philosophy of life. She is upbeat with no regrets. Q.: How are you doing?
Very well. Unless someone hits me with a hammer, I’m fine. Q.: Have you had any dark days during the pandemic?
My life didn’t change that much. I go out every day for a short while, but I wear a mask. I can’t go out to eat with my friend.

I’m fearful for my granddaughter. She works in the kitchen of a nursing home. She’s smart and stays safe.

I think of other people. How was this allowed to happen? Wearing masks should be a demand, not a request. Q.: Where do you get your news about COVID-19?

From television, but they give you only half the story. Q.: Tell me about your cats.

I like to be in control, but these cats control me. We have 12—ages 4 to 12. All of them are rescue except 4 that were born in our back yard and abandoned by their mother. I have a big house so everyone has its own place. Q.: How has SOWN helped?
I love talking to the women in their 90s. Some live in a 1-room apartment, some with their family. I love hearing from ladies who were raised on farms. I helps me see how the world goes ‘round. Joan will get the COVID-19 vaccine when she is sure it’s 99% safe. That fits her philosophy—“You can’t move forward if you’re standing still.” Vaccines: Collecting Information & Making a Decision After 2020, is there something to look forward to in 2021? Yes, there is— a COVID-19 vaccine. In past issues, SOWN Together has included information from trustworthy sources—The Centers for Disease Control, a federal agency; The Washington Post, a newspaper; and Dr. Anthony Fauci. Closer to home, Dr. Ala Stanford founded the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at the outset of the pandemic to reach Black and brown people in underserved areas of the city (see Issue #2). After all she’s seen and done, she feels confident that, for many, “the risks of getting coronavirus are greater than the risks of taking a vaccine.” Here are two heroes fighting COVID-19 on the front lines:

Mike Pearson of Philadelphia participated in a clinical trial to determine the vaccine was safe before it was approved for the public. Mike lost two relatives to the disease and said, “It is very real.” Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse in New York, was the first person in the USA to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She said, “I feel like healing is coming… I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe... I believe in science. As a nurse, my practice is guided by science, so I trust science.”
Resources: SENIOR MEAL SITE: Call 311 for help finding a senior meal site. Adults 60 and over are eligible at sites supported by the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA). Seniors must call ahead to reserve meals prior to pickup.
Adults 55 and over are eligible at the Parks & Recreation older adult centers. No reservation necessary. You always have a choice about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. When thinking what to do, here are some ways to help you decide:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have a question, you can be sure someone else has the same question.
  • If someone has information, ask where it came from.
  • Are there contradictions in the information that don’t make sense?
  • Talk to your doctor.
December 31, 2020

Issue 11

Help the Vaccine Do Its Work
Until you receive your vaccine and even afterwards, continue to use these essential safeguards against catching or passing the coronavirus to others:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from another person.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
Coronavirus Mutations: What does that mean?
The coronavirus hijacks living cells to copy itself and spread. The infected cell will then release millions of new viruses, all carrying copies of the genome (the number and arrangement of chromosomes* within a cell) of the original virus.
As the hijacked cell copies the virus genome, it sometimes makes mistakes. These are mutations. Those mutations create variants (changes) of the original virus and pass them
on to another and another and another person more quickly and efficiently.
They carry a heavier viral load (infectious material) and are able to:
  • attach more securely to human cells,
  • invade other cells more rapidly,
  • reduce the ability of a cell to fight the virus.
There is no evidence yet that the newest variant causes either a milder or harsher form of the disease in humans. *molecules that carry hereditary information Elders Who Speak American Indian Languages Given Priority to Receive Vaccines
The number of Native Americans who speak fluent Cherokee has shrunk to about 2,000
people, most of whom are elders. At least 30 of the remaining native speakers have
died of COVID-19.
To preserve the language, the elders who speak Cherokee are being vaccinated first.
Other tribes have made the same decision because culture is preserved in language. Losing native speakers would further erase the culture of people who have been forced to abandon their heritage and customs for centuries.
[From The Washington Post 01.06.21] Resources Issue #2 included an email address for homebound services from the Free Library of Philadelphia. It should have included the web address. Use the following address to learn more about the program and to enjoy the riches the library has to offer:
  • Apply for a homebound library card over the telephone.
  • Extended loan period.
  • No late fees.
  • Assistance in selecting materials—large print books, e-books, books-on-tape, and more.
  • Free home delivery of library materials.
For more information, call 215-686-5411. January 15, 2021

Issue 12

How Much Did Grandmothers Influence Human Evolution?
Thousands of years ago, as humans were evolving to become the species we are today, “… the idea [is] that grandmothers step in to feed young children and perform other motherly duties so that mothers can focus their own energy and resources on having more children at shorter intervals… a grandmother enables the birth of more descendants, leaving more copies of her genes* in following generations.”
This theory has been questioned since it was introduced in 1957. There is no answer to its validity, but it’s fascinating to think about. [Smithsonian Magazine, 01.04.2021]
*a unit of heredity which is passed from a parent to offspring, which determines some characteristics of the offspring Vice President Kamala Harris This newsletter has relied on facts and trustworthy information, not on opinions. However, in light of the historic election of a woman of color as the first woman to take the high office of vice president of the United States, we want to share an opinion—it’s about time! Congratulation to Vice President Kamala Harris. Can being president be far behind? If I Get the Vaccine, Do I Still Wear a Mask and Social Distance? Yes, You Do! A simple answer to a question that comes with lots of reasons. As miraculous as a vaccine may seem, it’s still being studied as it’s being administered. First, it does not cure COVID-19; it prevents you from getting it. It is a form of protection that works with the precautions you take already.
Second, it does not act immediately. It takes about 12 days for antibodies to build immunity. Remember, too, a booster shot is required for that last push to 95% immunity. Following every precaution possible is still the best way to slow down the virus.
Infections and deaths continue to surge in the U.S. Even if you've been vaccinated, health care providers want you to continue:

  • Wearing a mask.
  • Keeping your distance.
  • Washing your hands.
Stay safe; keep others safe. Help with Your Gas Bills
PGW customers who face financial hardships due to the pandemic may be eligible to receive $300 for their natural gas bills. Grants will be provided on a first come, first served basis.
Your household’s eligibility is based on having a past due bill and meeting one of several circumstances. [Too detailed to list here.] If a customer’s service is off now and in order to be eligible for a PGW COVID-19 relief grant, the customer must bring the amount due to $600 or less. PGW urges customers to call 215-235-1000. “I Just Want to Have a Good Cry.”
Go ahead — it can be good for you. Crying signals that we might need help or that we might be overwhelmed — very common feelings during this pandemic.
Crying can be burden-lifting and soul-cleansing. There are social and cultural understandings of when and where to cry, but there is nothing wrong with crying itself. What makes you cry (loss of a loved one; the end of a movie) and how you cry (sniffles or sobs) is up to you.
Consider with whom you cry: a close friend, members of a support group, a pastor. Think who would be the best support: someone who could just listen or someone who would say “there, there, don’t cry.”
Above all else, take care of yourself and have a good cry. [Washington Post COVID-19 Update] January 30, 2021

Issue 13

Feeling Stressed? One of the most effective ways to improve your immune system's health is by reducing stress... the most scientifically sound approaches to keeping your immune system healthy are healthy habits.
To boost immunity, focus on sleep, exercise, diet and cutting stress. Sleep is crucial to maintaining a robust immune system... managing distress during a pandemic... includes managing negative thoughts, finding ways to relax, such as listening to music or meditation. [From the Coronavirus Update, Washington Post, 02.02.21] What do these Agencies have in Common?

  • The Better Business Bureau
  • AARP
  • Health & Human Services
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
They are working to protect you from vaccine scams. Vaccines are:
  • free—do not respond to a call or email that puts a price on it.
  • in limited supply right now—do not believe someone has a stash.
  • distributed by a government agency—which will not ask for financial information.
. Want to De-stress? If the idea of meditating seems foreign to you, it’s something you may already be doing. Simply sitting in a chair with the intention of being quiet for a moment is a form of meditation. How is that different from just sitting still? You make a conscious decision to sit and to pay attention to your breath. Taking slow inhales and exhales loosens your muscles, relaxes your jaw, and calms your mind. Take a break from the world of t.v. and news and the phone. Allow yourself to think about the world inside yourself. … finally, there is light. Nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff say the vaccine jab also delivers a welcome emotion — hope. Healthcare workers have cried with relief after getting their shots. … the demand [for the vaccine] is leading people to go to great lengths to get a shot. One woman helping her mother said, “Securing an appointment feels as tough as scoring Beyoncé tickets.” [From The Washington Post Coronavirus Updates 01.20.2021] Who Manages your Building? Managers of subsidized housing have been asked to contact the city to learn if their residence qualifies for an on-site visit from the Philadelphia Mobile Vaccination Strike Team. Ask the property manager of your building if she or he knows about this program. Encourage them to get more information from the city’s health department. Updates: SOWN Together
  • It was fun while it lasted! The next issue (#14) of SOWN Together will be the last. More information will be forthcoming.
Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • White House coronavirus advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said, “If enough people are vaccinated against the disease by the mid-fall (2021), the U.S. could return to some semblance of normality.”
  • Dr. Fauci, an infectious diseases expert, has relied on scientific data to deliver fact-based information. He will continue to work with the Biden/Harris administration in that capacity.
February 15, 2021

SOWN Together Newsletter


Covid-19 Info Updates