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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Wednesday, 5/27

62,000 healthcare workers infected & a look at what's next

Today’s Recap:

  • More than 62,000 physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19 and at least 291 have died, the CDC reported. And we did officially pass the 100,000 death mark.

  • Tom Brokaw hosted a major conference with Dr. Mike Osterholm, Larry Summers, Dr. Julie Gerberding and others to look at what’s next with COVID - very targeted towards educating members of Congress on what we can expect.  They outlined three likely next wave scenarios and a two year timeline until COVID is behind us.  And discussed three imminent challenges to COVID response and recovery: (1) How bad of a flu season we have, (2) If there is another outbreak (like Measles, since fewer kids are fully vaccinated), and (3) What kind of hurricane season develops
  • Today,  the CDC presented  “Hurricane Preparedness during COVID”.  Since yesterday, a tropical depression with a 20% chance of landfall became Tropical Storm Bertha and heading towards the Carolinas.  Many of you are excellent at storm prep, but these aren’t normal times.  Some may be hesitant to evacuate, financially unable to do so, or just already overwhelmed.  Living without power and running water post-hurricane poses risks for increased COVID transmission. (aka Mike’s Weather Page) is the one site that the CDC looks at daily for aggregate weather forecasting.

  • Health departments are increasingly requesting broad employee testing.  Some guidance details testing requirements for multiple positives, or in the case of Miami - for a single positive.  As far as we know, you haven’t yet been asked to do this but we’ll keep you posted.

Best Questions of the Day:  

A manager who tested positive weeks ago was cleared to return to work but still actively coughing.  Should they work?

This is a tough one.  The optics of anyone coughing in any workplace today is not a good one.  Understandably, it makes employees and customers uncomfortable.  If someone has an active cough for virtually any reason right now, we recommend they seek treatment and find resolution before allowing them to work.  And we’re increasingly requesting doctor’s notes  - particularly for coughs.

An employee who tested positive eight weeks ago went to get retested and is still (or again) positive.  What should we do?

This is a situation many of you have had over the last few days.  Each case needs to be evaluated individually.  Was their confirmation of the first positive (Even just a few weeks ago we weren’t always getting the hard copy results that we typically are now)?  Are they symptomatic?  Did they have an antibody test or a COVID test?  In most instances, if someone has a positive result now that is not an antibody test, they should be excluded for another ten days and then re-evaluated.  We've sent this question to the CDC today for them to weigh in..

We received a letter telling us that a graduate last week tested positive and informing us that we had multiple employees who attended the graduation ceremony.  Do we need to exclude them? 

Our answer was not to exclude them.  The confirmed guidance is to exclude anyone who was contact with a confirmed or presumed case within six feet for thirty minutes or more.  There were likely only a few people who were within six feet of this single student for thirty minutes or more at a graduation ceremony.  This is Another example of local health departments’ responses lacking clear clinical bases.

Best Read of the Day

We’ve felt the challenges of asking restaurant operators to act as contact tracers and epidemiologists in the past few months, especially when there’s a lack of official guidance.  We’re glad to be able to help you navigate those tough situations, and thought this Atlantic letter to the editor hit close to home.  

I'm a Chef in a Seaside Town. I'm Not an Epidemiologist

Best Laugh of the Day - 

This isn’t COVID related but we’re kind of over COVID tonight.

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