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Food industry leads OD deaths

The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, August 29th

Health News:

  • Millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of children, are losing healthcare coverage as COVID-era Medicaid coverage ends. (CNN)
  • Two people died and five were injured in a shooting outside a Louisville restaurant in an altercation between guests and people on the street. (USA Today)
  • Dog-owners are questioning rabies vaccines for pets amid a wave of anti-vaccine sentiment after the pandemic. (Bloomberg)
  • Positive BA.2.86 samples in Ohio indicate that the new variant has been introduced to the US at least three different times. (CIDRAP)
  • Antifungal-resistant ringworm is spreading in the US. (CDC)
  • COVID spillover to white-tailed deer may speed up virus evolution and creates a reservoir that can spread back over to humans. (CIDRAP)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine rates in Louisiana have dipped below the threshold to prevent community transmission. (Axios)
  • The fungus that causes Valley Fever is moving northward in California, exposing more people. (The Hill)
  • As school resumes, teen visits to the ER for COVID have doubled in the past week. (CBS)
  • People can get long COVID without testing positive for the virus. (STAT)
  • Some insurance plans aren’t covering the new RSV vaccine for older adults, and it can cost over $300 out-of-pocket. (NY Times)
  • Grand Canyon officials are warning that there’s E. coli in the water at the bottom of the canyon, and all water must be boiled before being consumed. (AP)
  • In France, a study found Omicron was 4x more deadly than the flu. (Epidemiology & Infection)
  • The locally-acquired malaria case in Maryland is a different species than the one that caused multiple cases in Florida and Texas. (CDC)

Mental Health & Substance Use News:

  • Many big US cities now answer mental health calls with civilian teams instead of police. (AP)
  • Grief and anger continue to reverberate after the racist Jacksonville shootings. (NY Times)
  • US spending on mental health services increased by 35% during the pandemic. (CIDRAP)
  • A Maryland school district is suing the biggest social media companies for their role in the youth mental health crisis. (CBS)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions

A new CDC report shows that the foodservice and hospitality industry has some of the highest rates of overdose deaths. What else can we learn from that study to help protect our employees?

Food service and food prep workers had the second-highest rate of overdoses of any industry in the US (after only construction workers), even when adjusted for sex and race. The CDC study found that because foodservice workers spend so much of the day standing, walking, and making repetitive motions, they’re more likely to have work-related injuries. The implication there is that injuries may lead to an opiate prescription (or to seek pain relief through illegal drugs). Job instability, lack of paid sick leave, and lack of health insurance are also common, as is work-related stress, especially around interacting with customers. On top of that, the restaurant industry has “comparatively relaxed workplace norms around substance use” that are linked to higher use of drugs and alcohol. In fact, food service employees have the highest rates of both illegal drug use and substance use disorders among all workers in the US. Our main takeaway: this is a problem for your company, no matter your size. We’ll be continuing to ramp up our information on substance use in the workplace to help support you and your employees.
Source: CDC

With cases picking up, should I get boosted ASAP or wait for the updated booster in the fall?

You should discuss your specific situation with your doctor, but in general, unless you are at high risk for complications from COVID or have other underlying conditions, most vaccination experts are advising waiting a few weeks for the updated booster. The latest boosters should start to become available in mid-September, and that timeline matches more closely with previous winter surges. While we are seeing an uptick in cases right now, there’s a real possibility that later in the fall and winter we’ll see an even bigger wave, and you’re more likely to be protected through the holidays if you wait a bit longer for that booster right now.
Source: Your Local Epidemiologist

When should we consider asking employees to wear masks again?

The question of whether and when to bring back masks is a political and social minefield right now - we get it! There have been some high-profile colleges and companies that are being billed as a “return” to masking, but in reality, they were short-term responses to acute outbreaks and in some cases, were requested by the health department. Do we recommend returning to a blanket mask policy for all of your locations? Absolutely not. But we do think that it’s smart to have a clear, well-communicated plan that includes specific locations masking for a short period of time (for example, 10 days) after it reaches a specific case threshold (like 4 or more COVID cases that include employees from 2+ different households). Involve your HR and legal teams, and have a plan for employees who refuse to wear a mask. Use a similar threshold to switch from employees calling out when they are already sick to doing daily proactive wellness checks, which can help catch illness sooner and prevent workplace transmission.
Source: LA Times

Best Read:

Long-Term Long COVID - Eric Topol

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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.