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The Executive Briefing - Friday, May 6

Is the fifth wave already here? 🌊

COVID & Health News:

  • The COVID death toll in the US has reached 1 million - a number once thought unfathomable.  (NBC)
  • COVID death counts have been drastically undercounted, with the WHO estimating that there have been nearly 15 million excess deaths from COVID, a whopping 10 million more than what was officially attributed. (WHO)
  • There were almost 68,000 new COVID cases reported yesterday, a 59% increase over just two weeks ago with hospitalizations now rising in many places. (NY Times)
  • NYC could be bringing back vaccination and mask requirements as the case count continues to rise, both of which many would consider a blow to the city’s rebound.  (CNBC)
  • BA.2.12.1, a subvariant of Omicron, already makes up more than 1 in 3 cases in the US, and will be the dominant strain in a matter of weeks. (Huffington Post)
  • The travel industry is urging the Biden administration to end US entry testing requirements for international travelers.  (Reuters)
  • The CDC has reiterated the importance of masks on airplanes and public transportation. (Washington Post)
  • The FDA has seriously limited the use of J&J’s covid vaccine over continued concerns about blood clots. (WSJ)
  • Shanghai still has new cases, despite strict adherence to lockdown protocols. (Reuters)
  • Scientists are exploring whether COVID can lead to impotence, including erectile dysfunction and low sperm count. (NY Times)
  • The White House is concerned that the US may run out of booster shots if they continue with their plan to encourage all adults to get a second booster by Sept. 1. (STAT)
  • Italian authorities are closely watching a swine flu in wild boar around Rome.  (Reuters)
  • Another child hepatitis case was confirmed, this time in North Dakota. (AP)
  • The FDA has approved a new early test for Alzheimer’s Disease for those over age 55 that doesn’t require extensive scans and it is expected to be a game changer in diagnosis. (MedScape)
  • The current bird flu outbreak is headed to being the most widespread ever detected with 37 million birds culled to try to curtail it.  (Yahoo Canada)

Mental Health News:

May is Mental Health Awareness month. We’re proud to join the movement to bring more awareness to mental health issues that are facing your employees and communities.

  • A shocking and deeply troubling 45% of LGBTQ+ youth have considered suicide in the past year. (NPR)
  • People with anxiety or depression had a significantly increased risk of developing a chronic illness. (CNN)
  • A new report shows that most working parents are burned out. (NY Times)

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:

Is the fifth wave already here?

Sure looks like it. There’s about a 60% increase in cases over the last two weeks, and that’s just what’s being reported. In reality, there may be many more. Hospitalizations are up nearly 20% over the past two weeks, as well, which isn’t a good sign. Certain areas, like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are seeing double and triple the case counts in that time. It’s still not as bad as the January Omicron surge and experts doubt it will get that bad again, but it’s trending up. It’s hard to say how bad this surge will get, but our numbers are similar to what they were in the week or two leading up to the Delta and Omicron surges.

Some people are testing negative on Days 1 and 2 after symptoms start and then testing positive on Day 3.  Is this common?

Yes, it’s very common for people who have symptoms to test negative (especially on rapid tests) and then test positive later, most often on the third day. This is likely due to the amount of virus particles in the nose - while there are enough in your system to start to make you sick, there aren’t enough in your nasal cavity to come out positive on a rapid test. This is why we always  recommend that anyone who has symptoms stays home until they’re feeling better, even if they test negative. It’s also a great case for taking at least two rapid tests, 24 hours apart when you have symptoms! Together, two tests are nearly as accurate as a PCR.

Are current rapid tests detecting this round of covid?

Yes, rapid tests, including the at-home kind, can accurately detect BA.2.12.1, the newest strain that’s on track to become dominant in the US in the next week or so, as well as the other Omicron sub variants. That said, the newest strain can be infectious very quickly, so it’s possible that you might already be infected and infectious before you have enough viral load in your nose to test positive on a test.

Several employees reported they were prescribed an antiviral by the hospital who diagnosed them, but they’re having a hard time filling those prescriptions. Is that unusual?

Unfortunately, no.  We are hearing widespread stories of difficulty in filling these prescriptions.  Local ERs appear to have good information about where they can be filled but that often means traveling distances or going to a different hospital pharmacy to get them.  CVS and Walgreens report they expect to have them in stock within the next two weeks - but there doesn’t seem to be any good explanation as to why they aren’t already in stock and widely available.  

Best Listen:

Osterholm Update Ep. 102: Choose Your Own Path - CIDRAP

Best Laugh:

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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.