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The Executive Briefing - Friday, May 12th

What are other employers doing about Narcan?

Health News:

  • The WHO announced the end of the mpox public health emergency. (Reuters)
  • The White House isn’t quite ready to launch its new pandemic response office for a neat handoff at the end of the COVID emergency, and questions remain about future pandemic preparedness. (STAT)
  • Two cases of drug-resistant ringworm have been found in NYC. (NBC)
  • California’s Supreme Court judges said they were reluctant to hold employers liable for COVID infections, concerned about an ‘avalanche of litigation’ that could follow. (Reuters)
  • New gene editing technology is being developed to try to kill harmful E. coli bacteria in the gut without hurting the rest of the gut microbiome. (Ars Technica)
  • Naloxone may soon be standard in all Minnesota schools. (MPR)
  • SFO will be the first US airport to screen airplane wastewater for COVID. (SF Chronicle)
  • A fresh wave of COVID-19 is spreading through China as people return from holiday travel. (Reuters)
  • Telehealth rules created during the pandemic for prescribing controlled substances will remain in place until at least November 11th, 2023. (Axios)
  • TB rebounded in 2022, including a 26% increase in TB diagnosis for children under four. (NY Post)
  • The USDA approved a Lyme disease vaccine for mice, in the form of pellets spread outdoors. (CIDRAP)
  • Half of people in Chicago see someone get shot by age 40, according to a new study. (JAMA)
  • A new vaccine for pancreatic cancer that uses mRNA technology has shown promising results in early trials. (NY Times)
  • A lab error led to an unnecessary recall of salad greens in New Hampshire. (AP)

Mental Health News:

  • The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline received over 15,000 calls in its first year. (NBC)
  • The mental health crisis is costing local governments. (Axios)
  • Some good news - the teen mental health crisis may be waning, according to ER data. (CBS)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

Now that the public health emergency is ending, do you anticipate that the CDC will reduce the recommended five-day exclusion for COVID?

We doubt that the isolation guidelines will change any time soon. We know that people can continue to spread COVID for up to 10 days, and even longer in some cases. The end of the public health emergency doesn’t mean the end of COVID - there are still hundreds of Americans dying every day from this disease, though numbers are decreasing. Nothing has changed about how COVID is transmitted. Instead, ending the PHE is more about acknowledging that COVID isn’t unexpected anymore and that the majority of the US has some level of protection from prior infection, vaccination, or both. So while not totally out of the question, none of the public health experts on our team or in our networks have heard anything about the CDC changing the isolation guidelines.

Any update on what other employers are doing about Narcan?

Right now, nearly everyone we know is monitoring the situation and taking a wait-and-see approach. That said, we’re getting this question a lot from our clients, so it’s certainly top of mind for a lot of companies. Workplace overdose fatalities are rising fast, so it’s not just about guests or those using semi-public bathrooms, it’s also a matter of employee safety. We expect to see some workplaces starting to add naloxone training to the standard bloodborne pathogen training, and eventually stocking it along with CPR kits in the future, though we think it may take a while until it’s industry standard.

Can we ask our employees to administer Narcan?

This is a question that you’ll need to work on with your legal team. In many states, good samaritan laws protect most individuals who attempt to render aid in life-threatening situations, including those who administer Narcan when someone may be overdosing. Whether your company can require employees to administer that aid is a more complicated question. It’s more likely that employers stock naloxone in the same way they have CPR kits or defibrillators, and offer training (either mandatory or optional) in how to use it. Rather than mandate that employees intervene, we expect it will be more common for employers to give them the tools and training to spot an overdose and respond if they choose to do so as an individual.

We have an employee with active TB and the health department recommends employee testing. Should we encourage or even require employees to get tested?  

This depends on the specific situation. ZHH can help you make the decision about whether to mandate it or just educate about the option to get tested. Generally, most workplaces (and restaurants in particular) are low-risk settings for TB transmission. The health department will require testing if they think it’s clinically required, so if they’re not mandating testing, you usually don’t need to force all employees to get tested. You might have anxious employees concerned about their own exposure, which is something that you’ll need to manage. Give employees good information to help quell their anxieties and make it easy for them to get tested if they choose to do so. Clear communication and basic TB education can go a long way.

Best Read:

Opinion | The Covid Pandemic: 13 Takeaways for the Next Health Emergency - The New York Times

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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.