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The Executive Briefing - Friday, August 5th

CDC may relax quarantine guidelines soon


  • COVID is settling into a damaging pattern, with some forecasts predicting 275 deaths per day every day for the next several years. (STAT)
  • Long COVID clinical trials for treatment will start by the end of the year, and HHS has a new long COVID coordinator. (Covid.gov)
  • The CDC may relax guidance for COVID control, including easing quarantine requirements. (CNN)
  • More evidence from three new studies shows that three or four doses of mRNA vaccine work much better against Omicron than just two. (CIDRAP)

Monkeypox News:

  • Researchers are investigating how to stretch the available doses of Jynneos, the monkeypox vaccine, to meet the high demand. They’re looking into a different way to inject it that could increase doses by 5x, but requires skilled nurses. (STAT)
  • The US officially declared a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak. (AP)
  • Moderna is considering developing an mRNA monkeypox vaccine. (ABC)
  • Access to TPOXX, an experimental treatment that appears to work for most monkeypox patients, is still limited. Doctors are calling for it to be released from the national stockpile for easier access. (CNN)

Other Public Health News:

  • An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has sickened 12 people and killed one in Napa County, CA. (NBC)
  • A new monoclonal antibody treatment for malaria looks promising. (STAT)
  • Australia’s bad flu season could mean the same is headed for the US this year. (NBC)
  • Swine flu is being investigated after people at a West Virginia county fair became ill after working closely with sick pigs. (AP)
  • A study in the UK is testing a new disinfectant called Pathisol, which they say may be able to disinfect surfaces 5x faster than bleach. (Forbes)
  • Wastewater surveillance has picked up polio in a second NY county, indicating that there’s community spread. Officials are urging people to get the polio vaccine. (NBC)
  • The DOT published long awaited rules to allow for electronic signatures on chain of custody forms for drug and alcohol screens. (Federal Register)

Mental Health News:

  • When mental illness leads to dropped charges, patients often go without stabilizing care. (KHN)
  • One third of US kids had excessive screen time during COVID. (CIDRAP)
  • Students can take mental health days in 12 states. (People)
  • Back-to-school anxiety may be higher than ever in kids, in part due to recent school shootings. (CBS)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

What are these expected CDC guideline changes?

There are reports that the CDC is about to reduce or even eliminate exclusion requirements for close contact for those who are unvaccinated or not up to date, and de-emphasize the 6 foot, 15 minute rule defining close contact. We’re waiting to see exactly what they publish, but expect to have to make some changes to our exclusion chart based on these updates. Our sources say these might come in the next few days.

Is monkeypox deadly?

The current outbreak of monkeypox is very rarely fatal. Over 99% of people survive. People with weakened immune systems, children under 8, people with a history of eczema, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill or die. There’s another strain of monkeypox in the Congo Basin that is not the one circulating worldwide right now, which has a higher mortality rate of about 10%, which may be contributing to some confusion about just how deadly monkeypox can be. As of August 3, 2022, nearly 25,000 confirmed cases have led to 10 deaths worldwide, with more than half in West Africa where it’s endemic.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox spreads primarily through close physical contact with rash, lesions, scabs, or body fluids. It can also spread through respiratory droplets spread through prolonged, close, face-to-face contact or during intimate contact like kissing and sex. Touching clothing or linens that were in contact with the infectious rash or body fluids can also spread the virus, though we’re still learning exactly how long it can live on surfaces. You can’t get monkeypox from someone who is asymptomatic. Anyone can get monkeypox if they have close physical contact with someone who has symptoms of monkeypox. You can’t get monkeypox from a brief conversation, touching a doorknob or money, or really any short, casual contact.

Our employees share aprons, ties, etc. Is that risky for monkeypox?

Monkeypox virus can live on clothing, bedsheets, and other linens, though for how long is still being studied. The virus can spread if someone’s monkeypox rash, lesions, or scabs touch the fabric for a prolonged period of time, and then someone else touches the fabric for a prolonged period of time. Aprons, ties, and other items worn over clothing are less likely to spread the virus because they don’t have prolonged contact with skin, but if any employee has worked with an active rash or lesions, any linens they used or touch should be carefully laundered. If possible, the sick person should handle their own laundry until it’s clean. Anyone else handling it should wear gloves and a mask and carefully fold rather than shake the dirty fabric. Normal laundry settings with detergent is fine to clean the fabric.

Best Read:

Patient Zero: The narrative of outbreaks - Quartz

Looking ahead:

Is a 'twindemic' headed our way and what can you do to prepare?

Experts are warning that a 'twindemic' of COVID and the flu might finally be upon us this coming fall. So far, we in the US have been able to avoid this, but with flu cases already rising in July, and COVID cases surging again, health experts are worried we will be following in Australia and New Zealand's footsteps straight to a twindemic.

The key is simple: make sure no employee works sick.

If you don't have an employee health monitoring program, now is a great time to start. And you can help prevent a 'twindemic' from hitting your business hard by providing a flu shot and/or COVID booster program for your employees. Keeping employees (and customers!) healthy is not just good practice, it protects your bottom line.

Learn more about starting a program by scheduling a 15 minute chat with us here.

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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.