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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, April 26th

Nearing 1 million COVID deaths is unfathomable - literally

COVID Recap:

  • It’s truly unfathomable that the US is about to hit a million COVID deaths - our brains are so bad at comprehending such large numbers that we literally can’t grasp it. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Vice President Harris tested positive for COVID today, the latest in a string of cases in DC and raising concerns about the president’s exposure. (NY Times)
  • The White House is pushing to make the COVID drug Paxlovid more accessible by doubling the number of pharmacies where the pills are available. (The Hill)
  • A majority of family members of COVID patients who ended up in the ICU now report PTSD symptoms, likely due to visitation restrictions. (STAT)
  • A new study confirms that unvaccinated people increase the risk of COVID infection among those who are vaccinated. (Forbes)
  • Nearly 60% of Americans have now had COVID. (Stat News)
  • Omicron was more severe in unvaccinated children ages 5-11, who were hospitalized at twice the rate of vaccinated kids. (NY Times)
  • For the third time this year, the same Princess cruise ship has docked in California with positive cases - this time with 140+ positive passengers after an onboard outbreak. (CBS)

Today’s Health News:

  • A new Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a second patient died. Spillover from an animal is suspected as the source. (CIDRAP)
  • Scientists are investigating the childhood hepatitis outbreak in the UK, US, and other countries, looking into whether it might be linked to a lack of exposure to other viruses during the pandemic, or previous COVID infection. (Bloomberg)
  • Maine confirmed a deadly case of Powassan virus, a rare tick-borne illness which can cause fatal neurologic symptoms. (ABC)
  • 46 shuttle bus drivers taking festival-goers to Coachella were sent to the hospital with acute food poisoning symptoms. (KESQ)
  • E.coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens continue, despite prevention efforts. Some food safety advocates want stricter rules around how close lettuce fields can be to livestock. (Missouri Independent)

Best Questions:

Do vaccines protect against long COVID?

It’s still undetermined, but more studies are showing that a vaccine can reduce your chances of longer-term symptoms. Just how much a vaccine can reduce your risk of long COVID is still unclear, and all of them showed that long COVID can still be possible in vaccinated people. Either way, unvaccinated people get more severe COVID and are more likely to be hospitalized, which increases their likelihood of having lasting health issues. For those who are vaccinated, the best way to avoid long COVID is to avoid getting COVID altogether - stay up to date on your booster, avoid being indoors with people who are sick, and consider wearing a mask in high-risk situations.

Can someone get COVID again now if they had Omicron earlier in the year?

Unfortunately, yes. Recently a healthcare worker broke the (known) record by having two unique COVID cases within 20 days. Even if you recently had COVID during the last surge, it’s possible that you can get it again now, in part because there are different variants floating around (like BA.2 and an even new version of it). If you have new symptoms, don’t dismiss them just because you had COVID a few months back - it’s still worth getting tested and staying home when you’re sick!

The CDC and WHO’s hepatitis warning for children is concerning. Is it foodborne or transmissible in the workplace?

It’s still very early, but the leading contender in terms of what’s causing this hepatitis outbreak in kids is actually an adenovirus, which is most commonly associated with common colds. Nearly 75% of patients that were seen with hepatitis in the UK tested positive for that kind of virus. They’re still investigating if it has something to do with weakened immune systems after nearly 2 years of not catching any colds, or if it’s possibly related to previous COVID infection. Right now, it does seem related to catching colds, but it’s not likely foodborne. The same precautions that you can take to prevent spreading COVID will also prevent spreading the adenovirus that is linked to this hepatitis outbreak. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on this as investigators learn more about what’s causing it. In the meantime, parents can watch for fever, severe abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, and - most telling - yellow coloring in the eyes or skin. Seek medical treatment immediately if a child has severe symptoms.

Our employee lives with someone who has norovirus. Can they work?

Unfortunately, no. Someone who has been infected with norovirus sheds the virus at very high levels for 24 hours before their symptoms begin (and at high levels for up to 48 hours after their symptoms stop). It’s incredibly infectious in the home setting where people are sharing space and bathrooms, and touching the same surfaces. Just a few norovirus particles are enough to get someone else sick. The best practice is clearly to exclude someone who has been exposed to noro in their home or intimate relationships for at least 3 days. If they develop symptoms, they should stay out until they’ve been symptom free for at least 48 hours.

Best Read:

Anti-Vaccine Ideology Gains Ground as Lawmakers Seek to Erode Rules for Kids' Shots | Kaiser Health News

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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.