Rapid COVID test issues, what vaccination will look like, and more...
After consulting with our clinical team, we’re moving to making 24-day exclusions ONLY for people who have confirmed COVID positive household members who they are unable to isolate from. This will reduce the number of parents out for 24 days due to a sick child without confirmed COVID, for example. We will continue to coach people in how to isolate.
Abbott, who manufactures the “ID Now” rapid COVID test, made some major changes that make it much less useful. Now they’re only intended for symptomatic patients and must be tested within an hour of collection. This is a very big change…many of your employees who have had close contact go to their local urgent care clinics for ID Now tests (which have a very high false negative rate). And likely means that health departments who require testing for workplaces will absolutely require PCR tests.
The CDC has shared more information about what the COVID vaccination process may look like. It will likely be free, and certain groups (like healthcare workers) will be prioritized. It may be a 2-dose series, and we expect to see mass vaccinations starting in the Spring through public health orgs and even the military, since shipment and cold temperature requirements make distribution tricky.
The CDC confirmed that we don’t yet know if COVID vaccinations will be done annually, like flu shots, or will be a lifetime vaccination. We will need to wait and see how it mutates.
NY, NJ, and CT have added 5 more states to their restricted travel list —Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming— bringing the total to 35 states and territories.
Colorado has rolling “last call” times depending on testing in the area. The fewer COVID cases in the region, the later their bars can stay open.
And the UK is calling for new restrictions on restaurants, pubs, offices and other establishments that it expects may last 6 months or more.
How should we handle the exclusion if someone is tested for flu and COVID and tests positive for flu?
There are documented cases of “co-infection” with both flu and COVID, and clinical experts are sensitive to the very high false negative rates on COVID tests. Dr. John Brooks advises that each case needs to be evaluated. If someone had close contact within six feet for 15+ min, that exclusion takes priority regardless of flu/COVID test results. Further, he suggests that if a flu test is positive and a COVID test is negative, to look at where the person is living. If case counts are dropping, then exclude as if flu and only flu. If case counts are rising, it is safest to assume it could also be COVID and exclude accordingly.
We have employees who are objecting to our use of IR thermometers to take their temperatures on arrival at work. Apparently, there have been some social media posts about a link to pineal cancer, a source of radiation, etc. Can we use our IR thermometers on another body part (like the hand)?
Those posts are pure fiction. An IR thermometer on your forehead doesn’t come close to your pineal gland, they don’t emit radiation. IR thermometers are carefully calculated to “translate” your forehead temp to the same temp as if you were taking an oral under-the-tongue thermometer, so they should be used ONLY on the forehead. If someone is not comfortable with that, we recommend that they bring their own oral thermometer from home and use that.
A school (not public health) official says that an employee should quarantine. Do we follow that?
Yes. In many cases, schools are working with local public health departments, but even if not, we don’t want it to get out that someone was supposed to be quarantined but was working at your business. If a school authority or public health official instructs an employee to quarantine, they should do so, and may only return to work once their recommended quarantine is complete.
A school official let us know that someone in my kid’s class has COVID, but my kid doesn’t need to quarantine. Can I come to work?
Yes, you can work during that time. The school (hopefully) did the required close contact tracing to determine that your child wasn’t within 6ft for 15 minutes or more. You should keep a close eye on your child and stay home if they develop any symptoms, or if they get tested and test positive. But unless specifically told that they had close contact with a COVID+ classmate, you should be clear to continue working.
Friday we included a link to the Atlantic’s article on how we would know when this does end. This McKinsey report does an excellent job of assessing where we are, where we’re going and how it can end.
Disclaimer: This Executive Summary 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.