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COVID-19 Briefing - Friday, 11/6

Today's Recap:

  • We continue to set records, and not in a good way. Yesterday’s case count grew by a breathtaking 120,000+. Over 1000 people are dying daily. Infections are rising in all but 3 states.
  • The Midwest and Southwest are current hotspots.
  • There’s a spike in COVID cases in children, with over 60k reported cases in kids in the last week of October. And there’s a new study saying kids have fewer and less varied antibodies when they do recover.
  • We told you we were worried about halloween weekend causing a surge. We didn’t expect 10,000 people to go to a party in Utah, though…
  • Sweden, which made headlines by never going into lockdown, is seeing a serious spike in cases (like the rest of Europe).
  • Meanwhile, Denmark is culling millions of minks due to mutated virus infection. This is particularly scary because the mutated virus was reportedly passed back to over 200 humans. The consequences of a mutating virus could be enormous - including the possibility that the vaccines in development don’t protect against a new, mutated version of the virus.
  • Pregnant women who get COVID are more likely to be severely ill and die
  • More bad news about rapid tests for asymptomatic people. Louisiana and Oregon are among those cautioning against their use for those without symptoms.
  • And the FDA released a report this week stating it was aware of potential for false positive results in rapid antigen tests. We still don’t know exactly how common these are (that varies based on how and when a sample is taken, and how prevalent COVID infection rates are in a given community), but it’s still safe to assume that false positive results are rare. We still recommend treating all positive results as true positives.
  • Victoria, Australia had seven days without a new COVID case.
  • The concept of incentivizing people to get vaccinated is under discussion in some circles.

Best Questions:

Should anyone who has COVID or Flu symptoms be advised to see a medical professional?

We are seeing unprecedented levels of illness across the US right now, and want to avoid overloading our healthcare systems. Someone should seek medical attention if they are experiencing emergency symptoms, like trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to stay awake, or bluish lips or face, or any other symptoms that feel severe or concerning to them. There are states who are encouraging anyone with symptoms (and some without) to be tested.  If you have underlying medical conditions, it is advisable to contact your primary care provider to discuss early interventions.

What are some concrete things we can do to enhance the effectiveness of our daily wellness checks?

Make sure you have systems in place to ensure someone who fails the wellness check isn’t allowed to work without resolution of that failed check.  And let employees know that they can complete an electronic wellness check if they get sick on a day off or after they’ve left work (they don’t need to wait until their next scheduled shift).

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

No!  You should still be encouraging flu shots and going to get one yourself if you haven’t yet. In past years, you could walk into Costco or CVS and get one.  This year, to prevent lines where possible, you’ll need to go online and schedule it.  But most have same-day and walk-up appointments available. But please don’t delay.  It takes two weeks for a flu shot to take full effect and Thanksgiving is coming.

Will we be able to require employees to be vaccinated for COVID?

Well - that’s a legal question and outside of our expertise, but the answer is likely no.  There are people who won't be able to take the vaccine for medical reasons.  There are those with vaccine hesitancy, and those who oppose vaccines.  Typically a vaccine takes 10-15 years to go from concept to regular use, and this one is clearly moving much faster than that.  So we expect higher than normal vaccine hesitancy or those who will prefer to wait. Here’s a good link to the CDC’s new document on why you should get vaccinated.

Will employees who are vaccinated for COVID still need to be excluded for exposure?

We do expect to see different exclusions for vaccinated employees and non-vaccinated employees.  Our best guess is that vaccinated employees will no longer need to be excluded for close contact (though there is still a lot of info we need on how the vaccine works before we can say anything for certain, including how long the vaccine protects against COVID). Anyone with symptoms, vaccinated or not, will continue to require exclusion.

Best Read:

This is a question that came up in our webinar on Wednesday and will continue to be top of mind as we get closer to a viable vaccine.

Who Should Get a Covid-19 Vaccine First?

Best COVID Entertainment:

Not exactly a laugh, but we suspect everyone’s a bit distracted today with Georgia (and PA, AZ, NC) on their minds… why not end your week with a Ray Charles serenade?

Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind

Missed our webinar on COVID Vaccine?

The recorded webinar is now available on-demand, check it out or share with teammates.

View The Recording Here!

We hope you can join us for our next webinar in December!
Looking Ahead to COVID in 2021: Clinical and Legal Issues for Employers
Wednesday, December 2nd, 3pm EST

Register for our next webinar here!

Have a good weekend and stay safe out there!

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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.