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The Executive Briefing - Friday, May 26th

Serving morels? Here’s how to stay safe 🍄

Health News:

  • A new Salmonella outbreak is linked to raw cookie dough from Papa Murphy’s brand, leading to 18 illnesses and 2 hospitalizations so far. Most cases are in WA, OR, and ID. (CDC)
  • A second salmonella outbreak, associated with a taqueria in Boston, has now grown to 45 confirmed cases. (NBC Boston)
  • Nearly 40,000 caramel-scented rabies vaccines were dropped in Burlington, VT, last week to help manage local outbreaks in raccoons, skunks, and foxes. (Vermont Public)
  • Climate change and warming temperatures are costing people sleep - an average of 44 hours per year - which can have wide-ranging health effects. (Washington Post)
  • As water levels drop, the risk of arsenic poisoning rises. (KFF News)
  • Most Americans said in a new poll that curbing gun violence is more important than gun rights. (NPR)
  • More Americans are skipping the doctor due to rising medical costs. (Axios)
  • HIV is declining in the US, driven by teens and young adults, especially gay and bisexual men - but the US is still not on track. (The Hill)
  • A new study indicates that a blackout in Phoenix during a heatwave would overwhelm hospitals, leading to calls for better emergency planning as temperatures rise. (NY Times)
  • Employers are making their workplaces “menopause friendly.” (NY Times)
  • A new high-security lab will work with deadly animal pathogens in the middle of Kansas farm country, and some are concerned about the possibility that pathogens could escape. (Science)
  • A debt default could hurt Medicare and Medicaid payments, affecting millions of workers and their families across the US. (Modern Healthcare)
  • On Thursday, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer’s Covid antiviral pill, Paxlovid, for adults who are at high risk of getting severely sick with the virus. (NBC)

Mental Health News:

  • Mass shootings are taking a toll on children’s mental health. (Houston Chronicle)
  • There are ways that parents can combat social media’s risk to kids’ mental health. (Forbes)
  • Ketamine was comparable to electroconvulsive therapy for serious depression. (STAT)
  • Eating more vegetables may improve your mental health. (Washington Post)

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:

Someone used fentanyl in our bathroom. Can a manager safely clean it or do we need to use a special service?

First, it’s important to understand that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about fentanyl being absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Rumors and videos of police and first responders having acute reactions to touching or breathing small amounts of fentanyl are more likely caused by panic attacks since there have never been any valid reports of emergency responders developing signs of symptoms consistent with opioid toxicity from incidental contact with opioids, according to the American College of Medical Toxicology. While those first responders’ symptoms are real, they’re related to misinformation and fear about these drugs rather than actually being attributed to opioid poisoning. So if anyone on your team comes into incidental contact with fentanyl or another opioid, the health risk is minimal. Still, law enforcement should usually be called to dispose of the drugs and assess the area for safety, according to the MN Department of Health. If they deem it safe for your team to clean, a standard cleaning and disinfection should work just fine, though you may choose to call in your external cleaning company to manage employee emotions and expectations.

We’re hearing about COVID waves here and there. How can we track them to better prepare?

Anecdotally, we’re hearing of small COVID outbreaks everywhere from New York to Texas, but the reality is that useful data about COVID cases is hard to find now. The CDC has stopped updating its community-level tracker, and with so many people taking at-home tests that never get reported, we really only have hospitalization and death records to understand COVID, which is less useful for understanding how likely you are to be able to staff for this coming weekend, for example. If one location has more than 3 or 4 COVID cases at one time, you can assume your community is in a COVID wave and should emphasize the importance of staying home when sick to help break the cycle of illness.

An employee is caring for someone with COVID. They’re uncomfortable working since they think they’ll get sick in the next few days. What should we do?

We understand and appreciate this employee’s concern. The reality is that they might become sick with COVID over the next few days, especially if they’re the primary caregiver for the sick person or child in their home. But there are no CDC recommendations to stay home from work or quarantine, even for those caring for someone sick. If they’re particularly concerned, they can wear a mask during their shift, which will help protect those around them if it turns out that they’re infectious during that time. Ultimately, neither CDC recommendations nor your company policy requires them to stay home if exposed, so if they need time off to care for a sick family member, they should discuss that with their manager.

We serve morel mushrooms. What should we know about the Montana outbreak?

The FDA issued an advisory late last week about the Montana outbreak related to morel mushrooms. So far, 50 people who ate at a single sushi restaurant in Montana have become ill, 44 of whom ate morel mushrooms. Four people have been hospitalized, and two have died. The restaurant has been closed since the outbreak was first identified. The mushrooms were tested and were true morels, not poisonous look-alikes, which was one theory. No specific pathogen has been identified yet, but the same batch of morels from China was shipped to many other restaurants in the US, but there have been no other reports of illness anywhere, so it appears to be an issue unique to this one restaurant. Morels are generally safe to eat but can contain some toxins that cause health problems, though cooking them helps reduce toxin levels. Inspect morels or any other wild-type mushrooms for signs of spoilage (toxins are more likely if the mushrooms are less fresh). Avoid serving bruised, discolored, or slimy mushrooms. Be sure to store mushrooms below 40°F, either in their original packaging or in breathable packaging like a brown paper bag, to reduce the chances of bacteria and toxin growth.

Best Read:

Are Employers Still Requiring COVID-19 Vaccines? - SHRM

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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.