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The Executive Briefing - Friday, June 3rd

The surge might be 30x worse than it looks

COVID & Health News:

  • Pulse oximeters don’t accurately show oxygen levels for darker skinned patients, which  leads to slower and less aggressive treatment for some COVID patients. (Stat News)
  • Two more likely cases of monkeypox have been detected in NYC. (Patch)
  • US COVID cases may be 30 times higher than reported, according to a study done by a professor at the City University of New York, based on NYC’s under-reported cases. (The Guardian)
  • There’s hope that the lessons learned in COVID may be used to help battle AIDS. (Washington Post)
  • The first vaccines for kids under 5 may be ready by June 21 if approved by the FDA, according to the White House. (AP)
  • It turns out the monkeypox outbreak just identified has been spreading silently for at least five years. (CNN)
  • Trained dogs sniff out COVID with more accuracy than a rapid test. (PLoS One)
  • The Bronx, NY Legionnnaire’s outbreak has grown to 24 cases and 2 deaths. (The Gothamist)
  • One in five states have more than 90% of stores out of baby formula. (Bloomberg)
  • The recent shooting in Tulsa, OK by a patient targeting his doctor because of lingering back pain after surgery has led to calls for better hospital security and gun safety laws. (AP)
  • Getting vaccinated during pregnancy seems to protect infants during their first four months, according to a new study. (CIDRAP)

Mental Health News:

May 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.

  • Workplace suicides are up 39% since 2000, but “it’s all preventable” says one affected family member, promoting education and outreach to tell employees it’s okay to seek help. (The Guardian)
  • On May 25, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance clarifying that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers situations where an employee's mental health condition, or that of a family member in their care, inhibits the employee from working.   (SHRM)
  • Colleges that implement a comprehensive mental health program with the Jed Foundation can get a break on their insurance. (Inside Higher Ed)
  • Guns and self-poisoning rose as means of death by suicide in young people during the pandemic. (ABC, Time)

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 an employee returns to work after a negative test and then “rebounds” and develops symptoms and/or tests positive again a few days later, what should we do?

Rebounding is real, and there are at least a few cases being studied that show that people who are rebounding after a course of Paxlovid may be contagious during their rebound. In those cases, people felt better, ended their isolation, and then felt sick for a few days again. It’s during that rebound that they infected household members. There are only a few of these cases that are confirmed, so it’s unclear how widespread it is. But if someone experiences rebound symptoms, they should NOT come to work. If they have no symptoms but continue to test positive, that’s less of a concern, as some people test positive for weeks and even months after infection, and it’s not always associated with infectiousness. But it’s a good reminder that anyone with symptoms - even if they just had COVID - should stay home and isolate.

Now that there are at least two antivirals available, is one better than the other?

There are now two antiviral treatments available for COVID: Paxlovid and the newer molnupiravir (it doesn’t roll off the tongue!). Paxlovid is much more widely used (about 15x more) because it has fewer side effects and appears to be more effective at preventing hospitalizations. There’s even one concerning study that showed that molnupiravir might even have worse outcomes than no treatment at all, so we highly recommend talking with your doctor about it, and know that a large majority of doctors preferred Paxlovid.

What messages actually work to convince hesitant people to get the vaccine (or give it to their kids)?

A recent study confirmed that “conversion messages” work best. They tell the story of a person who was initially hesitant (like the listener), the information they got, and how it changed their minds. A great example we’ve seen of this is from Nurses Who Vaccinate, a nonprofit who participated in a webinar we saw earlier in the pandemic. They had a nurse talk about how she was initially hesitant to get vaccinated, how she talked with a trusted supervisor who calmly explained the science behind it with care, and how that changed her mind. The evidence shows that this approach works much better than a one-sided message. Matching the psychological state of the listener is key. Matching the person’s own hesitancy makes them feel like the source is more credible, as well.

We’ve all become more relaxed in the activities and events we’re attending. Should we change those behaviors now (with reports of case counts 30x higher than reported)?

Personally, we’re looking at our important events and activities and making some more conservative decisions in the week prior to that event, to prevent unnecessary exposures that might stop us from attending. But most people are still traveling and attending weddings, events and larger meetings these days. The CDC does now recommend testing before travel and not traveling if you test positive.

Best Read:

Welcome to the Great Reinfection | WIRED

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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.