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COVID-19 Briefing - Friday, 10/16

We're hitting another peak as we head into the weekend

Today’s Recap:

  • Case counts are surging as we head for another peak - IL, IN, MI, NE, and WI are seeing 25% increases compared to 2 weeks ago, and 41 states are seeing rising case counts. 
  • France imposed a curfew to help curb the spread of the virus this week as Europe sees a major spike in cases, as well. 
  • The director of the CDC warned that small household gatherings are driving outbreaks. 
  • And speaking of, Dr. Fauci says that we might need to “bite the bullet” and cancel Thanksgiving this year. He says his three kids won’t come home because of his elevated risk. 
  • The US is poised for a “perilous” flu season, according to experts. 
  • And in some disheartening news, a Canadian spin studio that followed all public health guidelines was still linked to over 60 infections
  • Vaccine news is coming in fast now, too. A few of the major vaccine trials were halted due to unexplained illness, but because they’re blind studies we don’t know yet if the people who were sick had placebos or the vaccine. This is pretty normal in the course of vaccine development. 
  • But in the world of testing, a bright spot: Oxford has developed a 5-min rapid test that might be available next year. 
  • Even when one is ready, only half  of Americans are willing to get an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, which is down from two-thirds back in July, according to Gallup.

Best Questions:

What percentage of false negatives are we seeing on rapid tests?

This varies depending on what kind of test it is, when it’s taken, and how it’s collected, but rapid tests can range from 5% all the way up to 50% false negative rates. That’s why we unfortunately can’t count on a rapid negative actually meaning someone is negative. Luckily false positives are much more rare, so we can be reasonably sure that a positive is a true positive. 

An employee’s child had a negative COVID test but has a sore throat, cough, fatigue, body aches, nausea, muscle aches, runny nose. Do we still need to exclude the employee?

Probably, unless they have a specific diagnosis of something else from a doctor. Those symptoms are classic COVID symptoms, and there is a high rate of false negative tests which mean we can’t be truly sure that the child doesn’t have COVID. We’d recommend 14 days from the child’s symptom onset to make sure the parent doesn’t get sick. 

We see that people can get reinfected within 90 days. Does that mean we have to exclude people who have recently had COVID, or are they still considered “immune” for 90 days? 

This is a great question that we are watching closely. Right now the instances of true reinfection appear to be extremely rare - there are really only 2 confirmed cases right now. So for now, we’re not changing our recommendation: someone who has had confirmed COVID in the past 90 days doesn’t need to be excluded for exposure during that time. 

Our employees share uniforms/aprons/vests normally. Can they still do that during COVID? 

If possible, limit the use of anything shared that isn’t cleaned and sanitized between uses. The best option is to get one for everyone and have them use their own personal item. If that’s not possible, try to at least create a rotation so that things like reflective vests are sanitized and let sit for 24 hours between uses by different employees if they can’t be laundered during that time.

Best Read:

The question that’s been on a lot of our minds lately: is it safe to travel for the holidays? We know people will travel for the holidays, but the question of whether they should is still very much up in the air - with many experts, unfortunately, saying “no.”

Is There a Safe Way to be Home for the Holidays? 

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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.