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The Executive Briefing - Friday, April 14th

What can businesses do during a noro spike?

Health News:

  • The Tampa Bay area in Florida is a hotspot for norovirus right now. (Fox 13)
  • A woman in China has died of avian flu (H3N8) after exposure to live poultry, though no close contacts were infected. (WHO)
  • An analytics firm predicts that the world has a 27.5% chance of another pandemic in the next decade. (Bloomberg)
  • Syphilis cases are at a 70-year high, a new CDC report shows. (ABC)
  • A new allergen labeling requirement for sesame has an unexpected outcome: food manufacturers are actually adding sesame rather than dealing with the requirements to be labeled sesame-free. (Washington Post)
  • A few more Hep A cases have been identified in the outbreak from contaminated organic frozen strawberries. (FDA)
  • Workplaces are the most common mass shooting sites, data shows. (ABC)
  • Free COVID testing will fade after the public health emergency ends on May 11th. (AP)
  • A new study showed that people with more traditional or socially conservative values were more likely to follow COVID recommendations in the rest of the world but less likely to do so in the US. (CIDRAP)
  • Washington University is working on developing a vaccine against norovirus, which could be a game-changer for the food service industry. (Washington University)
  • A San Francisco Whole Foods closed a few months after someone died of an overdose in the bathroom. (SF Chronicle)
  • A rare fungal infection called blastomycosis has infected nearly 100 people in a Michigan paper factory. (ABC)

Mental Health News:

  • L.A. promised mental health crisis response without cops, but that hasn’t happened. 988 hotline workers can’t dispatch mental health teams and callers can wait hours for emergency response. (LA Times)
  • Demand for home health aides is soaring, but many struggle with mental health. (STAT)
  • With lots of focus on girls, teen boys are at risk for mental health issues and death by suicide, as well. (Washington Post)

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

Best Questions:

We are seeing increased norovirus activity. What’s going on?

Noro is very high across the country, and particularly bad in Florida right now. We’re seeing an increase in confirmed cases, though the vast majority of cases are unconfirmed. Many sick employees are heading to the hospital for fluids and being told they “likely” have norovirus but without testing. These cases are less likely to draw a health department visit, but anytime you have someone with many instances of vomiting and/or diarrhea, you should act as though it’s noro. Sanitize thoroughly (check our app for a full restaurant punchlist), send sick employees home, and make sure everyone stays home until a full 48 hours after their vomiting and diarrhea stop, since they can still spread it for days after they start to feel better.

My employee’s child went to the ER with what they said was presumed norovirus. Can they work?

No, the employee should stay home for at least 48 hours if they’ve been exposed to a household member with noro, and we recommend 3 days if they’re caring directly for the sick child. If they’ve sought medical attention and the provider thinks it’s probably noro, you should act like it is. Remember, noro is unbelievably contagious, so someone getting sick in the house means it’s more likely than not that your employee will get sick over the next day or two. If after 48-72 hours they’re still symptom-free, then they can return to work. If they get sick themselves, they should stay home for 48 hours after symptoms resolve.

The urgent care said my employee has norovirus, but they didn’t do any testing. Do I need to report it to the health department?

No, you don’t need to report something to the health department if there was no testing done, but you should be prepared for an inspection, either way. Even with an alleged or presumed positive, you should do the same employee wellness checks, sanitizing protocol, and emphasis on handwashing that you’d do if it was a lab-confirmed test. That includes being prepared in case the health department shows up - focus on previous violations and ensure you have no potential violations related to handwashing, which is what the inspector will hone in on.

An employee claims to get diarrhea each month at the time of their period. Is that true? Can they work?

A whopping 25% of women in one study had diarrhea around the time of their period, so this is certainly possible. It’s likely caused by hormonal shifts and may change from month to month even for the same person. If the employee's symptoms are common and have not changed from their usual symptoms, they can continue to work. If they have any change in symptoms - like it’s more frequent or severe than usual - they should treat it as a unique symptom and stay home from work.

Best Read:

Why You Should Still Be Washing Your Hands in 2023 — Just Not for COVID  | KQED

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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.