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The Executive Briefing - Friday, July 1st

Listeria, Noro, and more concerns around Monkeypox

COVID & Health News:

  • The CDC has activated its Emergency Response Center for monkeypox with more than 300 US cases now reported. By comparison, it activated the ERC for COVID-19 in January 2020 when the first case was reported. About 300 staff members have been assigned to it. (The Guardian)
  • One person has died and 22 are hospitalized in a multi-state Listeria outbreak that may have ties to Florida. The CDC is still investigating the source. (CDC)
  • There are now more than 150 cases of probable Norovirus (some are lab-confirmed) among rafting tours of the Grand Canyon. (Ars Technica)
  • We can expect Omicron-specific booster doses in the fall, the FDA says. (CNBC)
  • Heart-related side effects from vaccination are very rare, but slightly higher with Moderna than Pfizer. Both shots have reduced risk if the doses are spaced a bit farther apart. (CIDRAP)
  • Miami and the rest of south FL are now so regularly flooded that people just wade through the floodwaters daily - but it’s probably full of raw sewage. (Health News Florida)
  • Elmo got vaccinated in a new CDC ad! (Bloomberg)
  • A new study confirms that in most young and vaccinated adults, the infectious period for COVID is only five days. (CIDRAP)
  • The administration has expanded monkeypox vaccine eligibility, and hopes to give out 300,000 doses over the next few months. (NPR)
  • Antibiotic-resistant Typhoid is on the rise, starting in South Asia and spreading worldwide. (CIDRAP)
  • When Brazil banned medication abortions, women turned to drug traffickers. (NY Times)
  • After recent mid-air medical emergencies, doctors who helped are calling for updated airplane medical kits, many of which haven’t been updated in almost 20 years and often have cheap stethoscopes that can’t be heard above engine noise. (NPR)
  • Urologists are seeing a surge in requests for vasectomies following the Roe v. Wade decision, with demand up as high as 400% in some practices. (Unilad)
  • Dr. Fauci believes that Paxlovid prevented him from hospitalization, even though he had rebound symptoms and tested positive again. (NY Times)
  • St. Louis has record numbers of Syphilis cases. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Mental Health News:

  • A new law in NY allows licensed mental health counselors to diagnose and develop treatment plans independently. ​​The new law covers 10,000 practitioners - counselors, family therapists, and psychoanalysts - and will help shorten the wait to access mental health care. (News13)
  • Six months after its passage, the US Military has not implemented the Brandon law which facilitates military personnel’s access to mental health care. (NBC News)
  • California might require mental health warnings on marijuana products. (KHN)
  • Patients of Kaiser report waiting months for mental health appointments, with the average wait for an appointment in the Sacramento area nearly 2.5 months. (Sac Bee)

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

Do all of your clients see higher call-outs around holiday weekends? Could it be real case spikes, or just people who want to party?

Yes, we do always see some spikes in calling out around holidays. 4th of July and other three-day weekends are common culprits. But there’s a catch: sometimes people really are sick, especially now that people are traveling and partying again with few precautions. We also see a common pattern of increased sickness 3-5 days after holidays, which we expect are true illnesses. It’s a fine line to ensure that people are being honest about why they're calling out, while still fostering an environment where people feel able to call out sick when they have symptoms without any retribution. On the ZHH team, we coach our staff to be a bit more aware (and ask more questions about hangovers) around holidays like the 4th to try to find the right balance between believing employees’ self-reported symptoms, and not letting them off the hook if looking for an easy day off.

Who should get the monkeypox vaccine?

The White House announced that they’re releasing the newer (and safer!) monkeypox vaccine to state health departments, who are starting to open vaccination clinics across the country. At first, they were only available to those with a known exposure to someone with monkeypox, but most have been expanded to include gay, bi, and trans people who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous partners in the past few weeks, which is a large group of people now eligible! Critics worry that there’s not enough vaccine available to cover all those eligible, and public health experts hope that those eligible will take advantage to

Will variant-specific boosters actually be ready by the fall?

The FDA recommended updated boosters, tailored to the newer Omicron variants (BA.4 and BA.5, specifically) for the fall. And both Pfizer and Moderna have already tested versions that they say are more effective right now than their original vaccine. They will need to ramp up production, but the government did pay billions of dollars for nearly 105 million doses for the fall this week, so they certainly expect to be able to roll them out. Unfortunately, booster uptake has been low nationwide. Hopefully, though, the allure of an updated booster and the protection it offers will convince more people who are vaccinated but not boosted to get an additional dose. Boosters prevent severe illness and death, and they’re key in keeping a fall or winter surge from becoming as bad as it was last year.

We know people are getting reinfected more often. How long are we actually protected?

This is frustratingly hard to pinpoint. Officially, the fastest known case of re-infection is 20 days, but we’re hearing more and more about people getting sick twice in under a month. There’s some possibility that some of these anecdotal cases are rebounding, but all evidence is pointing to the fact that the newest variants are just really good at escaping immunity and reinfecting us. It seems like most people have three solid weeks of protection after COVID, and then the protection can really vary.

Best Read:

Don't Worry, It’s Not COVID - Tips for How to Be a Good Sick Person | The Atlantic

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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.