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COVID-19 Briefing - 9/29

Today’s Recap:

  • 1 Million people have died worldwide from COVID. 
  • North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana are seeing positive test rates ranging from 20-30%, which is extremely high. For comparison, NY, MA, VT, and ME all have test rates of under 1%, and the WHO considers anything over 5% concerning, according to Reuters. 
  • There are some real questions about the value of earlier closing times… without much science behind it.  British pubs must close at 10 PM and pubgoers are gathering outside after closing
  • In some good news, there may be fewer ICU deaths because there are lower viral loads.  
  • Masks work. In South Korea, a customer at a coffee shop was COVID+. The employees who were wearing masks didn’t get sick.
  • More COVID cases are involving kids - up to 10% of all cases in September from just over 2% back in April. This may be correlated with the return to schools. 
  • NY, NJ, and CT added Colorado to their travel quarantine list, and removed Arizona and Virginia. 
  • There’s significantly increased Hepatitis A activity in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama
  • You’re all invited to join us on Wednesday, October 7th at 3pm EST for a webinar on Flu and COVID. Feel free to share with anyone on your team that might be interested. Register here!

Best Questions:

A large group of my employees are planning on attending a wedding that reportedly far exceeds our state’s maximum gathering size.  How would you handle this?

Clearly, this event poses a high risk to your team.  The one 62 person wedding in Maine that has been all over the news now has a case count of 170 with 8 deaths tied to it.  You’ll need to consult your legal counsel.  But this is one that may need clear communication and employees told they may need to be excluded for 14 days if they attend.    

My employee got sick more than 90 days ago, but tested positive exactly 90 days ago.  Exclude him now for close contact?

We didn’t… We expect this will be evolving over the coming weeks and months. But for now, the guidance remains that antibodies post-positive are lasting 90 days or more.  We do see studies showing that they wane over time and are reduced by as much as half in 60 days.  As we learn more about this and new studies come out, we’ll be sharing them.

An employee decided to get tested because a coworker they weren’t in close contact with tested positive.  They tested positive and then didn’t believe it and got tested again and were negative.  How should we handle that?

A false positive is much more rare than a false negative for COVID tests.  And the lab-based PCR tests have a much lower false positive rate than the rapid ones.  We would absolutely suggest excluding this employee for ten days from the first test date.  

There is definitely significant  risk and potential liability by not excluding.  

Two roommates work together. Roommate #1 was identified as having close contact within 6ft for 15+ minutes with a COVID+ coworker and was excluded for 14 days. Does Roommate #2, who did not have close contact, need to be excluded?

Great question and one that came up over and over again today!  The answer is no.  If the Roommate #1 develops symptoms or test positive, then Roommate #2 would need to be excluded. This is a variation of the second-hand contact scenario you’ve asked about many times before…

Can we ask for documentation of COVID+ test results?

Although that is a legal question you should review with your counsel, nearly all of our clients and our clinical team are asking for a copy of the positive result, a screenshot of  a positive result they received by text or the caller ID from whomever called them to verbally report a positive. We’re getting it 95% of the time. When someone tells us they don’t have a copy, can’t get one, deleted the text, etc. we occasionally find out that they didn’t actually test positive. 

My employee says they have a fever after getting their flu shot. Can they work?

Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, says only about 1 to 2 percent of people who get a flu shot will have fever as a side effect. Any fever correlated with a flu shot should be below 100.4 degrees. If someone has a fever of 100.4 or higher, it’s likely unrelated to their flu shot. If they did recently get a flu shot and have body aches, soreness at the injection site, or a fever under 100.4, we recommend keeping them out for 3 days to monitor their symptoms. If symptoms resolve they can return after 3 days if they are 24-hours fever-free without fever-reducing medication. 

Best Listen:

It’s been a while since we suggested you listen to our friend, Dr. Mike Osterholm.  But this week’s podcast will really bring you up to date on the worldwide spread of COVID, vaccination development, which young people are getting and spreading COVID and how. 

Episode 25: Ripple Effects | CIDRAP

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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.