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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, March 5

Everything you need to know about the new J&J vaccine, mask mandates, and reinfection.

Today's Recap:

Best Questions:

What are other clients doing about the states where mask mandates have been lifted? What is your recommendation?

More than half of our clients say that they intend to require guests to wear masks, regardless of the state regulations. About 29% said they will not require guests to wear masks. Some big companies like Starbucks, Target, Kroger have come out saying they’ll still require all guests and employees to wear masks in their stores in TX and other states rolling back mask mandates. 

Do we need to notify guests of a COVID+ employee?

Not in most cases. You only need to notify people who had close contact with the employee in the 48 hours before their symptoms started or after they were symptomatic (though we hope you’re all using wellness checks and keeping sick employees out of work!). Close contact is generally defined as 15 total cumulative minutes of contact within 6 feet, regardless of mask-wearing or any higher-risk contact like kissing, hugging, sharing food or drink, or getting coughed or sneezed on by the sick person. In most workplace settings, we very rarely hear of guests or customers that meet the criteria for close contact with a sick employee. However, there are exceptions - like workout classes, lessons, or private events. In the case that a guest meets the criteria for close contact, most of the time you’ll just be reporting that name to the health department and they’ll do the actual outreach to the guest. 

Do we need different messaging encouraging vaccination for different employees?

The communication experts say the answer is yes, and you might be able to tackle this most efficiently by having a variety of messaging on multiple channels (e.g. social media, texts, clock-in alerts, posters, alley rallies, newsletters, emails, etc.). Some employees will wait a while before getting vaccinated. Others will be nervous. Some live in communities where there is more wariness toward government programs or they have significantly less access to vaccinations. Regardless of what your employees’ hesitations are, we do think that messaging should reinforce three key ideas: that vaccines work to prevent serious illness, that exposed employees can return to work faster, and that your workplace is committed to following COVID safety practices.

What are the current international travel testing and quarantine requirements? Do vaccinations exempt you from quarantine or testing?

Current travel restrictions don’t mention anything about those who are in the protected window of immunity, either after a positive COVID test or after vaccination. We’ve reached out to the CDC for clarity.  Until they update their website to specifically exempt travelers who are protected either from natural immunity after COVID or from vaccine-induced immunity, we think it’s best to assume that you’ll need to follow the rules. CDC guidelines are to get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Or, if you don’t get tested, to stay home for a full 10 days after travel. Remember to always check state and local restrictions for travel, as they may be different. 

Reinfection seems to be happening more often. What happens differently if someone is reinfected? How do we know?

We have seen three cases this week among our clients that look like they may be genuine re-infections. Some over 90 days and some in under 90 days. Those under 90 days are alarming. While it’s still rare, the new variants that are circulating make it more likely that these are true re-infections with different mutations of the virus. If someone has fever, respiratory, or GI symptoms, they should stay out of work and isolate, regardless of whether they’ve had COVID before. It could be re-infection and they could be transmitting the disease. If someone doesn’t have any symptoms but only tests positive, it’s a little less clear cut since we know that someone can test positive for weeks after symptom onset, even if they’re no longer contagious. In those cases, we’ll want to consider how long it’s been and possibly ask for a doctor’s note - the doctor can make a call about whether this seems like a new infection or recurrence of the infection they already had.

Best Read:

At one year into the US pandemic, we’re thinking a lot about what the next year will look like. Read about the short-term, middle-term, and long-term future of the Coronavirus here. It’s the best take we’ve seen yet on what this could look like for the next decade. 

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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.