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The Executive Briefing - Friday, September 16th

Flu is here, plus how to do better in the next pandemic

ZHH News:

Addressing Today’s Mental Health Crisis - Key to Managing Staffing and Turnover

With the NY State Restaurant Association

Tuesday, September 20th, 10-11:00 AM EST

Mental health is the leading cause of employee turnover, with 89% of employees who left their job this year reporting feeling burned out or unsupported. Economic uncertainty, stressful working environments, and more challenging interactions with guests and co-workers make restaurant and hospitality work more difficult than ever before. Despite this growing need for mental health support, many restaurant employees either don’t have or don’t know how to access mental health resources.

Our panel of experts will discuss what the current crisis looks like, why having an EAP alone may not be enough, and how to cost effectively offer resources and support to your employees while also mitigating your risk.

Click Here to Register Today!


  • Americans’ concern about COVID is the lowest since the pandemic started. (Ipsos)
  • The WHO has said, “We are not there yet, but the end [of the pandemic] is in sight,” urging countries to continue fighting the spread of the virus ahead of the winter rather than loosening prevention measures due to decreased case counts. (AP)
  • The COVID booster rollout has been confusing and it’s raising concerns about errors in administration of the vaccine. (STAT)
  • Just one person was seen wearing a mask at the Emmys on Sunday evening but everyone had to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR (and presenters and nominees had to show both). (Buzzfeed News)
  • Most COVID survivors who were healthy before their infection had some sort of heart problem a year later. (CIDRAP)

MPX News:

  • The first MPX case in a healthcare worker exposed on the job has been reported in Los Angeles County, where the first death also took place last week. (LA Times)
  • Overuse of the MPX antiviral could spur mutations, the FDA has warned. (CBS)
  • The lackluster response in southern states to the MPX outbreak has left LGBTQ+ groups fighting the outbreak themselves to protect their community members who are disproportionately affected. (KHN)
  • Doctors are concerned after two US MPX patients developed inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, a dangerous neurologic complication. (CIDRAP)

Public Health News:

  • Flu season could arrive early and be more severe. (Houston Chronicle)
  • The US has been added to the WHO’s list of countries where vaccine-derived polio is circulating, after wastewater samples showed the virus is present in NY state. (CDC)
  • Heat wave warning systems don’t account for workers who spend long hours in the sun and outdoors, and may be underestimating the dangers for people exposed. (NPR)
  • Poverty and uninsured rates dropped in the US due to pandemic policies, though over 27 million people remain uninsured. (NPR)
  • A Texas judge ruled last week that employers don’t need to cover PrEP, a drug that prevents HIV and is taken daily by hundreds of thousands of Americans. (The Guardian)
  • A rare, deadly rabbit disease was discovered after 14 rabbits died in Connecticut this week and public health officials can’t figure out how it got there. (NBC News)
  • Burned out doctors pose a safety risk to patients, a new study found. (Bloomberg)

Mental Health News:

  • Half of survey participants said that they feared repercussions if they were open about their mental health at work. (CNBC)
  • California’s governor signed a controversial law that allows homeless people to be forced into mental health courts. (AP)
  • From laundry to dishes, unpaid labor is bad for mental health and often falls on women. (The Guardian)

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

Best Questions:

Should I time my COVID booster for better holiday protection if I plan to travel?

This depends on your personal risk assessment. The White House is pushing that everyone get their booster by Halloween at the latest, and we think that’s a pretty good timeline. If you’re at high risk for severe illness, you should not wait. If you’re low risk, and you have holiday travel plans, you may choose to delay by a few weeks, but you don’t want to delay too much. These boosters are formulated for the latest BA.4 and BA.5 strains, but if you wait until December to get them, there might be new strains circulating by then. Getting everyone boosted before we get into the deeper winter months will help prevent surges. And don’t forget that it takes up to two weeks for the booster to really kick in.

What should I do with my expired COVID tests?

Don’t throw your at-home rapid tests away just yet, even if the expiration date has passed. Testing companies are constantly continuing to test the efficacy of their products and then sending that data to the FDA to get extensions on their expiration dates. So, just because the date on the box has passed, don’t forget to check the FDA website for an extension, and keep those in the back of the closet in case it gets extended in the next few weeks or months.

We have an employee with both flu and COVID at the same time. Is that common?

While it’s not common, it’s something we’ve seen occasionally throughout the pandemic. Interestingly, we’ve had a number of these cases in the past few weeks. It’s possible to get both COVID and the flu at the same time, though unfortunate. And this year’s flu season is slated to be bad; Australia’s was the worst it’s been for years, and ours follows theirs. We expect to see more flu circulating this year than we have since the pandemic started, so we expect to see more of these double flu-and-COVID cases as we head into fall, winter and the real start of flu season.

How worried should we be about polio?

We don’t think that most people in the US need to be overly concerned about polio, in part because the vast majority of adults are vaccinated and therefore very well protected against paralytic polio. If you have young kids, it’s a good idea to discuss this with their pediatrician and to ensure that they’re up to date on their polio vaccine and other routine childhood vaccines. Most people who are carriers of the poliovirus don’t have symptoms, which makes it tricky to track. It could easily continue to spread in the US among those who are not vaccinated, which puts vulnerable young kids at risk.

Best Read:

4 ways the world messed up its pandemic response — and 3 fixes to do better next time

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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.