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The Executive Briefing - Friday, June 24th

Polio and Meningitis and Salmonella - oh my!

COVID & Health News:

  • Routine surveillance of London sewage identified several instances of the polio virus which had been eliminated in the UK in 1984. No actual polio cases have been identified, but public health officials have raised the alarm. (NY Times)
  • A bacterial meningitis outbreak in Florida has caused 24 cases and 7 deaths, primarily affecting gay and bisexual men, with about half of cases affecting Hispanic men. The CDC is recommending the meningitis vaccine for gay men living in and traveling to FL. (CNN)
  • The FDA is investigating two different salmonella outbreaks, and their questions seem to be about tomatoes and lettuce as a possible source. (FDA)
  • Impatient for COVID vaccines for their young kids, parents are scrambling for appointments, in part because many pharmacies can’t administer vaccines to the youngest kids. (The Boston Globe)
  • Publix, one of the largest Florida vaccinators for adults and kids earlier in COVID, announced they won’t be vaccinating children under the age of 5 - without commenting on that decision. (Tampa Bay News)
  • The FDA banned sales of Juul e-cigarettes, saying “that Juul had provided insufficient and conflicting data about potentially harmful chemicals” that could leak from the pods. (NY Times)
  • A new study found that women are 22% more likely to develop long COVID than men and will experience different symptoms.  (ABC News)
  • Nearly one in five adults in the US who had COVID say they still have symptoms according to a new CDC study. (CDC)
  • BA.4 and BA.5 are very good at escaping antibodies from vaccination and prior infection. While vaccination still prevents severe disease, manufacturers are working to see if they can update the shots to better work against these new variants. (CNN)
  • The US is boosting monkeypox testing capacity at commercial labs, as 142 cases are confirmed nationwide. (AP)
  • COVID rebound may be because viral scraps are reigniting the body’s immune response. (Ars Technica)
  • The dangerous heat wave is continuing this week, with temperatures that can cause health problems in nearly a dozen states from TX to WV. (ABC)
  • Meal delivery service Daily Harvest recalled a lentil dish after customers complained of severe gastrointestinal distress. (NPR)
  • The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade may affect if and where women are in the workforce. (MarketWatch)


Mental Health News:

  • Inflation is impacting people’s mental health, especially those who aren’t able to afford basic needs. (The Hill)
  • A pediatric group recommends that all adolescents are screened for suicide risk in a preventative measure. (Fox)
  • More Americans are dying of overdoses than ever before. (NY Times)
  • A new study from the Cleveland Clinic found that 46% of people could improve their mental health by taking 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day - reducing stress, anxiety and depression. (EHS Today)

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:

If my first shots were all the same brand, should I get a different one for my booster(s)?

Ultimately you should talk to your doctor, and if you’re booster eligible, you should get whatever brand of booster that’s available to you. But if you have the option, there is some good science that shows that mix-and-match boosters seem to provide better protection than an additional dose of the same brand. Regardless, unless a doctor has recommended otherwise, your booster should be mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) and not J&J, since evidence shows that J&J offers less protection overall, and the CDC recommends an mRNA booster for those who got their first dose or even their first two doses of J&J.

I felt sick, took a rapid test that came out negative, and immediately felt better. Am I crazy?

You’re not alone! There was recently a Washington Post article about this phenomenon. First thing’s first: you might still have COVID. If you’re sick and you get a negative rapid test, you might still have COVID. Many people test negative for the first few days of symptoms, and only start testing positive on Day 2 or 3. But if your symptoms completely go away immediately after you see that negative test, there’s also a chance that your symptoms were actually stress-related. The anxiety around getting COVID is real, and can create real physiological symptoms. Still, if your symptoms return or if you have reason to think you were exposed, it’s best not to rely too heavily on that negative test. Stay home when you’re sick, and remember that two negative tests 24 hours apart are much more reliable than a single one.

How can I check if my COVID test is actually expired or if it’s been extended?

The FDA has been extending the expiration dates of many COVID tests as manufacturers continue to study the effectiveness of their products over time. When they were first approved for emergency use, most tests had a relatively short time until the expiration date because the companies making them didn’t have the time to conduct studies about how long they could hold up, since they needed to rush them to market during the height of the pandemic. Since then, they’ve continued to study how long they’re good for, and submit that to the FDA to get an extension. In some cases, the same test is extended multiple times, as soon as there’s good data showing that it’s shelf-life is longer than what was previously approved.

You can check in the Expiration Date column of this FDA web page. If the Expiration Date column says that the shelf-life is “extended,” there is a link to “updated expiration dates” where you can find a list of the original expiration dates and the new expiration dates. Find the original expiration date on the box label of your test and then look for the new expiration date in the “updated expiration dates” table for your test. If the Expiration Date column doesn’t say anything about extended shelf-life, then the expiration date on your box is still correct, and you should avoid using it if you can.


Are other clients still notifying people about close contacts?

For the most part, yes, most of our clients are still having managers notify people if they had prolonged close contact (within 6ft for 15+ minutes) in the two days before someone tested positive or developed symptoms, with some choosing to follow up by email afterward. There are some places, like California, that no longer explicitly require employers to do that, but many of our CA clients are still doing so to cover their bases and to ensure that people who may have gotten a bit lax about working when sick take any symptoms more seriously if they know they’ve been exposed.


Best Read:

Squirrels Could Make Monkeypox a Forever Problem - The Atlantic

Best Laugh:


A note from the ZHH team:

You look to us for clinical and medical guidance both in and out of the workplace. It is ours and nearly every medical association in the country’s clear opinion that safe abortion care is essential health care, so we’re here to be a resource for you or your employees. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade today, which will severely limit access to safe abortions for people across the country. For your employees who are seeking safe reproductive health services, they can visit plannedparenthood.org or this access map from the Cut.

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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.