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COVID-19 Briefing - 9/1

College outbreaks, the best time to get tested, and more on how and when to exclude for close contact.

Today’s Recap:

  • College outbreaks continue to impact clients in nearly every state.  University of Alabama has been all over the news, but there are clusters at many colleges who returned to campus.  SUNY Oneonta was the first New York State run university to revert to remote learning. 

  • Statins appear to have a solid link to better outcomes from COVID with up to 30% reduced severe illness or fatalities.

  • We’re seeing an uptick in recalls and hearing concerns about reduced inspections leading to even more.


  • We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: make sure you get a flu shot this year! Experts confirm it’s more important than ever. 

  • The Atlantic has a great article on why and how contact tracing has failed so miserably in the U.S.

  • A new visualization, while still in very early stages of study,  reminds us that face shields should not be considered a replacement for masks because they allow a lot of vapor to escape below, above, and around the face shield. Face shields may be used in addition to masks for extra protection, but aren’t a replacement. 

Best Questions:

Is there a best time to get tested?

Yes - newest studies show that 5 days after known exposure is the best time to get tested and to wait at least 3 to 4 weeks after illness for antibody testing.  Positives are less likely to show up if done earlier (part of the problem with testing as a solution at this point).

An employee’s family member is sent home from school after testing positive for COVID. They immediately isolate in a room, and the bathroom and kitchen are regularly sanitized. Does the employee need to be excluded?

This is a really tough one. If they truly are completely isolated, they might not need to be excluded at all. However, there are a few factors that lead us to recommend a 14 day exclusion from the date the family member arrives home. First, the optics: that there’s a confirmed COVID+ person in the household and the employee is not excluded at all might be uncomfortable for colleagues and guests if they were to find out. Second, the reality: there’s a good chance someone in the household did have close contact and may be incubating the virus now. All in all, our recommendation is to keep this person out for 14 days from the date their family member came home, even if they didn’t have contact for a full 15 minutes within 6ft on that day. 

An employee was given a 24-day exclusion because they told us that they can’t self-isolate from a member of their household who is COVID+. Later, they figure something out like going to a hotel or isolating the sick person in a different part of the house. Can we reduce the exclusion?

Yes! We do a lot of coaching when we see possible 24 day exclusions because it may be possible in many cases to isolate a sick adult, or make arrangements that allow some members of the household to isolate. If an employee figures something out (e.g. one household member takes care of a sick child and the other stays with a friend), they can chat back in with us and get their exclusion reduced to 14 days from their most recent contact with the sick person. 

An employee says they have a very slight cough, or a very mild sore throat, or just the hint of a headache. Do we count that as a full symptom? 

Yes. It’s really hard to know what someone’s pain tolerance is, what they consider mild vs. severe, and how COVID can present itself in different folks. If someone has a symptom that’s enough for them to report it on a wellness check, even if they tell us it’s mild, we count it as a symptom if it’s new or changed. If someone has a mild headache but that’s an everyday occurrence for them, they’re not going to be excluded from work. If someone has a new “very mild” cough, they should stay out for 10 days, because that’s a common COVID symptom. 

Best Podcast of the Week:

You know we’re big fans of Mike Osterholm and his podcast from last week on how crazy this all is was particularly interesting and worth listening to. 

The Osterholm Update: COVID-19

Best Laugh: 

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.