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Masks are a controversial topic, and seeing employees wear them means different things to different people. In-N-Out has said it will ban employee masks to “help promote clear…communication” and “show our Associates’ smiles.” Employees who want to wear a mask will need a medical note specifying a specific medical condition that requires them to wear one. Some infectious disease experts are coming out against it, saying it endangers employees. We think that allowing individual employees to wear masks when they feel it’s appropriate for them is still the best policy. Most won’t, and those who do may have a sick grandparent at home or a mother with cancer. Creating a blanket policy that requires employees to have their own medical condition ignores the reality that masking protects others, as well, and that people who are immunocompromised don’t get to declare COVID finished, even if it’s not a major issue for the rest of us. We don’t expect too many to follow suit with this policy and certainly advise waiting to see how this plays out if it’s challenged in court before making any policy changes.
Source: LA Times
The CDC just updated their cyclosporiasis numbers, nearly doubling the total confirmed cases so far this summer to a new total of 581. Cyclosporiasis is most common in the summer months, usually May-August. There have been over 1000 domestically-acquired cases per summer over the past few years, though, so while this jump is big, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these cases are all linked to large outbreaks. The FDA is actively investigating two outbreaks of Cyclospora, one with 112 cases and one with 38. It’s possible that those numbers will rise and the data hasn’t caught up to the FDA’s website, but it’s also likely that there are some cases that aren’t linked to the two known outbreaks. Those are also separate from the now-closed outbreak related to broccoli, which the CDC has said is over and unrelated to the new cases. Luckily, most cyclosporiasis happen in June and July, with lower numbers in the spring and late summer, so we’re hoping to see those numbers decrease as the summer goes on.
The White House has launched a billion-dollar “Bridge Access” program aimed to help keep vaccines free for people who are uninsured or under-insured for the fall of 2023. For those with insurance, vaccines will remain free under their plans. But for those without insurance coverage, they’ll be able to access free vaccines at their own healthcare provider, pharmacies, and community health centers. No one in the US should have to pay out of pocket for COVID vaccines this fall. Note that this program is just for 2023, so we’ll continue to keep an eye on vaccine costs for individuals next year.