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The Executive Briefing - Friday, February 18

72% of US is un-boosted

COVID Recap:

  • Disney parks will no longer require masks for vaccinated guests. (CNN)
  • California will debate mandating vaccines for all workplaces in the state. (Politico)
  • Only 28% of the US population has been fully vaxxed and boosted, with new vaccinations at an all-time low. (CNN)
  • Vaccination after COVID dramatically reduces reinfection rates. (New England Journal of Medicine)
  • Long COVID appears to be less likely for those who are vaccinated. (Medpage Today)
  • People who battled COVID-19 infection had a higher risk of multiple mental health conditions. (MedPage Today)
  • Long COVID is less likely among the vaccinated, according to a large new study out of the UK. (UK Health Agency)
  • When New York City school kids head out for winter break this Friday afternoon, they’ll go home with two at-home test kits in their backpacks to voluntarily use before they come back to school after the break. (The Gothamist)
  • COVID makes everything worse in pregnancy - from baby’s safety to mom’s health. (Medpage Today)
  • Nasal vaccines may be one more tool to help slow the spread of COVID. (Time)
  • Some localities are partnering with private companies to create their own health departments, after sharing public health agencies - and disagreeing on COVID measures - hasn’t worked. Douglas County, CO, part of the Tri-County District is one of them.  (KHN)
  • COVID patients may have an increased risk of depression and anxiety. (NY Times)
  • A sign of the times, Apple will now let FaceID open your phone with a mask on. (Bloomberg)

Today’s Health News:

  • New highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks are being investigated in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia with flocks being culled daily. (CIDRAP)
  • Making mental health a top priority is a growing trend for employers and their employees. (Modern Healthcare)
  • A third patient has been cured of HIV with a new approach that’s a game changer for curing people of racially diverse backgrounds because it uses more widely available umbilical cord blood that doesn’t need to be a perfect match. (NY Times)
  • USA Today did a deep dive into how food recalls work. (USA Today)
  • They’re seeing some increased Norovirus-like activity in Oregon schools this week. (Klamath News)

Best Questions:

Are other clients dropping their mask requirements if the state or city allows it?

This varies quite a bit based on the local jurisdiction, but for the most part, while many of our clients are removing the mask requirement for their guests, they are maintaining mask mandates for unvaccinated employees.. Some are still requiring masks for all employees, since it eliminates some of the complicated logistics of identifying who’s vaccinated to ensure they’re allowed to work unmasked. Whatever you decide, we highly recommend requiring masks for unvaccinated employers at the very least.

We’ve started seeing a pattern of managers allowing employees to work sick because they tested negative for COVID, but they’re sick with something else infectious. Is everyone else struggling with this too?

This is a problem that’s growing daily. Just because someone doesn’t have COVID doesn’t mean they can work, especially if they’re sick. We’ve seen everything from chickenpox to norovirus to the flu, all of which are highly contagious. Employees with symptoms of any of those - or other infectious diseases - should NOT be working sick! COVID isn’t the only infectious thing out there, so it’s important to make sure no employees are working sick, regardless of their COVID test status.

Are the GI symptoms of Omicron different from the GI symptoms of Norovirus?

While Omicron seems to have a much more significant GI component than prior variants, respiratory symptoms usually do show up eventually.  The concern is that Omicron GI symptoms are often the first ones (and occasionally the only ones).  We’ve seen very severe GI symptoms as first indicators - Noro-level severity (can’t leave bathroom, simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea). By keeping employees with GI symptoms out for three days, you’re ensuring they won’t be spreading Norovirus and allowing time for other COVID symptoms to develop if they’re going to.  Bottom line is that GI symptoms are always a reason to keep someone out of work until they’re symptom free for at least 24 hours.  

Recently, we’re hearing a lot of noise about E.coli.  Is something going on out there that we should know about?

There is always more E. coli during the transition times when the harvest season switches from Arizona to California, but it does seem there have been some more E. coli investigations that didn’t seem to go anywhere in the last few months (and particularly few weeks).  Health departments have contacted several companies about possible outbreaks but few, if any, final reports have been issued and sources have not been identified.  Case counts associated with these have been very low, although some patients have been very sick (with a high rate of hospitalization, and some Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, the deadly complication that can result from E.coli).  We will continue to monitor and send out alerts or additional information as received.

Best Read:

The Atlantic:  The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo

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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.