Mental Health Month might be over, but we know this is an issue that’s important to your teams, and to us every day. We’re keeping our Mental Health section as long as it continues to be a major issue for your employees and communities.
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.
Well, as cases surge now and most public health experts think they will again in the fall, we think it’s a good idea to think carefully about when you’ll have your conferences. If possible, choose a time when you can do as much as possible outdoors, especially eating and drinking. The more you can ventilate the indoor areas by leaving doors and windows open, or move the whole meeting outside, the better off you are. And when you plan the dates, consider holidays. We’re consistently seeing bumps in case numbers a few days after holidays, when more people are traveling and gathering, but keep in mind that it may take a few days for symptoms to catch up to them after they’re infected. We know that it’s getting less and less realistic in terms of public opinion to wear masks indoors for the entirety of your conference, but we also know that conferences and large meetings do lead to outbreaks. So, if it would impact your bottom line or your ability to stay open if a large percentage of the attendees got COVID after a meeting, we strongly suggest moving it outside, masking up, making it virtual, postponing it, or, at the very least, doing testing before travel and upon arrival.
The WHO and CDC are in the process of making that decision now, and likely won’t release more information until the summer. We do know that vaccine makers have shifted their focus from producing as many initial doses as possible to planning boosters for the fall and initial shots for young kids (which will start the week of June 21). Moderna has submitted initial data to the FDA in anticipation of requesting approval for a re-designed booster - presumably for fall distribution. We’ll wait and see, but do expect at some point to see annual booster doses that are tailored to the latest variant, the way that we do for flu shots right now.
In a case like this, the first thing we’re wondering is whether the lab and medical providers who did the testing actually reported it to the health department like they’re required to, or that they reached the right folks in the right DOH. Sometimes employees live in one jurisdiction and work in another, or live in one and seek medical treatment in another. And as we’ve discussed before, we are seeing many new “behaviors” from health departments that are understaffed and very rusty on non-COVID-related illnesses. We’ve seen some under-reacting and others over-reacting to things like noro. If you have a good relationship with your health department, and you’re already doing all the things you need to do from your norovirus action plan (available in the app), you might consider calling the health department yourself to build some goodwill. Before you do, make sure you have all your ducks in a row, including a full sanitizing, excluding any employees that the sick person lives or hangs out with outside of work, and doing symptom surveys for all employees. You should expect an inspection, too, so it’s best practice to pull your previous health inspections and make sure you’ve addressed every violation. In our experience, when we have good relationships with health departments and make a proactive call, it can be very mutually supportive.
A timely question since so many people have had COVID recently. The answer is yes, but please consult with your primary care provider. As soon as you meet the criteria for ending your self-isolation you can technically get your booster. Some people choose to wait a bit after an infection because you have a period of naturally strong immunity after an infection, where reinfection is less likely. Some doctors recommend waiting a bit (anywhere from 1-3 months) until your natural immunity has waned before you get that extra boost of immunity from the additional dose. Consult your own doctor to see what they recommend in your specific case.
For an excellent summary of the current state of things.
Dr. Mike Osterholm: COVID Meteorology and where we stand with sub-variants, monkeypox and flu