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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Tuesday, 5/26

More on antibody testing, travel, and state requirements...

Today’s Recap:

  • Today marks 140 days since the first identification of COVID-19.  And we ‘ve likely crossed the 100,000 mark in US deaths.

  • Managing the varying requirements by state continues to be challenging. CO is requiring employers, particularly restaurants, to report positives to the health department and will publish the names of establishments with two or more as an “outbreak.”

  • New data about Hepatitis A shows that food handlers are NOT the primary source of the recent Hepatitis A outbreaks.

  • Reports from those who have traveled are mixed to poor with full flights and airlines and passengers not following the COVID protocols they’re communicating with confirmations and at check in.  Airlines continue to provide drink service which leads to removing masks for those who continued to wear them. Anecdotally, most don’t put them back on!

  • And states continue to have varied travel restrictions. Follow state guidance for US travel. For example, on the Visit FL site it says: All persons traveling to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Louisiana are required upon entry to Florida to self-isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days, or for the duration of their presence in the state, whichever is shorter. Roadside checkpoints are set up on interstates. The checkpoints do not apply to commercial drivers or health workers.  Click here for more information.

  • New guidance has been released on antibody testing.  It’s a good news/bad news situation. Seems like positive antibody tests have a relatively high accuracy rate while there is no data on the accuracy of negative tests AND most significantly, it does appear there are lower positive rates on people who reported early symptoms of COVID which could possibly mean antibodies don’t necessarily provide longer-term immunity. 

Best Questions of the Day:  

We had an employee who was told by a health department their COVID test result is invalid. What do we do?

We’ve seen this a few times over the long weekend. Testing sites with invalidated test results or other machinery issues mean that results are not valid. For negative results, this doesn’t affect us much, since there is already a high false negative rate and we recommend treating any employees with symptoms as if they have presumed COVID regardless of their negative test result. 

For positive results, that’s a bit trickier. We recommend helping the employee find an alternate testing site to get re-tested. Otherwise, default to a 10 day (with at least 3 fever-free) for employees with symptoms, and 14 day exclusion period for exposure to a presumed or confirmed positive.

An employee had casual contact (less than 15 minutes) with someone who tested positive so they decided to get tested.  Do we need to exclude them until their results get back?

We are not recommending that you exclude everyone who gets tested.  There is a new pool of “curiosity testers” who are anxious, interested or in high incidence areas.  And there are areas of the country that are now recommending everyone get tested.  As testing capacity grows, that likely needs to be and will become the norm.

We do recommend you exclude someone who is being tested because they had symptoms, live with or caring for someone who has tested positive or is sick, or had a close contact exposure.

An employee had close contact with someone who had COVID.  They were tested and were negative.  Can they come back sooner than 14 days?  

Unfortunately, no.  This was the question of the weekend (we probably fielded it 50 times).  The incubation period is 2 to 14 days.  So the test is only a snapshot in time and doesn’t predict who may be incubating the virus but it is not yet at detectable levels.  We know most people become sick by day 5 or so… but that the range of symptom onset is 2 to 14 days - and possibly longer at much lower levels.

Best Read of the Day:

Sweden’s Michelin-starred restaurants were virtually alone among their global peers in their ability to operate last month. We loved this Vanity Fair article about what they learned. 

Sweden’s Restaurants Stayed Open in the Pandemic. This Is What Their Chefs Learned.

Best Laugh of the Day:  

The news story about rats’ food shortage with restaurants closed got lots of coverage this weekend.  That made this one a little bit funnier.

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