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COVID-19 Briefing - Friday, 12/11

Pfizer vaccine approved & first doses poised to be administered Monday

Today's Recap:

  • Pfizer’s vaccine was approved by the FDA today. 17 voted in favor, with 4 against and 1 abstained. One who voted against said she fully supported the vaccine but voted against its use for 16- and 17-year olds.
  • First vaccines are expected to be administered as early as next week for healthcare professionals and those in long-term care facilities. Essential workers are poised to be next after that, but we don’t expect that to be for a while.
  • Each state will be making its own decisions for vaccine distribution and we already know they’re making widely varying ones.
  • Dry ice supply is one of the issues with vaccine distribution, especially in rural areas.
  • We loved the NYT’s new tool to find out where you stand in line for the vaccine: check it out here.
  • A German survey said that most preferred COVID messages that note scientific limits.
  • ICU beds are at capacity across the country. Another good tool from the NYT tracks these across the country.
  • Baltimore shut down indoor and outdoor dining, a move by their new mayor on his first day in office.
  • The UK’s NHS has a new app offering money for those who self-isolate in the form of grants.
  • And Eater reports that restaurants and bars account for 1.4 percent of COVID cases in NY.

Best Questions:

If a school tells a student they must quarantine through a certain date (that doesn’t align with CDC of DOH general guidelines), would you recommend following that?

If it’s longer, absolutely. If it’s shorter, we would follow the dates recommended by the CDC or local department of health.  You’re all having a difficult time with younger employees understanding and relaying accurate information about their exposures. Just because a school closed, it doesn’t mean your employee was exposed.  School closures are more likely linked to their ability to staff than the number of excluded students.  You can ask for the student to share anything that they received in writing from the school and you can contact the local DOH and ask for specifics about school-related exposures.

Should we be excluding someone who is notified through a state tracking app that they have been exposed?

Great question and this is the first time we’ve been asked this one. The answer is yes. The apps don’t notify someone who passes a COVID positive in a store.  They notify someone who has 15+ minutes of close contact or very close physical contact.  

I’m hearing people will need to wear a mask after the vaccine. Why is that?

The vaccine protects a person from becoming ill when they are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence that it prevents you from spreading the virus. So even if you’re vaccinated, you may still spread the virus if you’re infected, so you’ll need to wear a mask to protect those around you who have not been vaccinated.

If an employee tested positive with a rapid test, then negative with a PCR test, is that a false positive? Do we need to exclude?

The reliability of rapid tests varies, and there are some new reports out about the possibility of false positives in asymptomatic patients, but the overall rate of false positives is still very low. We recommend treating ANY positive, rapid of PCR, as valid based on the rarity of false positive results, and excluding this person for 10 days from the date of symptom onset, or of the positive test date if they’re asymptomatic.

Best Read:

Now that the FDA approved Pfizer’s vaccine, and others are on the way. Here’s McKinsey’s take on what’s next.

The COVID vaccines are here: What's next?

Best Laugh:

It’s a Friday night so this just seems so right…. (thanks Patrick Sterling for sharing this).

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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.