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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, August 23rd

New boosters in the next few weeks 💉


  • Grassroots work using translators to answer questions in refugee communities has led to vaccine uptake success in Georgia. (KHN)
  • Kids ages 12-17 can now get the Novavax vaccine. (CNBC)
  • Los Angeles county is offering free COVID tests – for pets. (Fox)
  • One LA Google office has 280 COVID cases, the largest of any one employer in LA right now. Similar outbreaks of 200+ cases at TSA and American Airlines were recently reported in the city, as well. (Deadline)
  • Dr. Fauci will step down at the end of December after nearly 40 years as the top infectious disease expert in the US. (Politico)
  • Pfizer has asked the FDA to authorize their Omicron-specific bivalent booster for the fall. (NPR)
  • Exercising 20 minutes a day can lower your risk of COVID and drastically reduce your risk of severe outcomes like hospitalization. (Fortune)
  • Scientists are working on an at-home test that measures your level of protection against COVID. (STAT)
  • The US is shifting who foots the bill for COVID shots and treatments to insurers and patients, after government underwriting will end. (WSJ)

Monkeypox News:

  • California will now refer to monkeypox as Mpox or MPX, after the WHO announced it’s looking for a new term with less stigma. (KCRA)
  • The new US monkeypox vaccine strategy offers more doses, and more uncertainty since the method is based on a single study. The US still has far less vaccine than we need. (NPR)
  • California issued new isolation guidance for those with monkeypox - which requires people to wait 48 hours after symptoms subside, which means lesions scabbed and have fallen off, and other symptoms like fever have subsided. (SF Chronicle)
  • Monkeypox virus can live on household surfaces, including bedding, light switches, etc. But the virus wasn’t able to replicate in the lab, meaning it may not be infectious on those surfaces. (CIDRAP)
  • Monkeypox is now reported in all 50 states. (ABC)

Public Health News:

  • Polio in the US, UK, and Israel reveals the rare risk of the oral vaccine (no longer used in the US). The wildtype virus is nearly gone and this outbreak is spread from those who received live virus in the oral vaccine to those who are unvaccinated. (AP)
  • An online rumor among antivax influencers that polio was renamed Guillain-Barre Syndrome is completely false. (Reuters)
  • OSHA is launching a new 90 day education program to help make warehouse work safer. (WFMZ)
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is investigating a possible ebola case. It declared an end to its most recent outbreak last month. (Reuters)
  • An E.coli outbreak has been linked to romaine lettuce on sandwiches at Wendy’s. (CDC)
  • One side effect of new pandemic cruise rules is that norovirus has plummeted after years of anywhere from 10-11 major outbreaks per year. (Washington Post)

Mental Health News:

  • New mental health data show an ‘unsustainable’ burden on hospitals in North Carolina, and around the country. (WRAL)
  • Public librarians say they’re struggling to meet the needs of patrons who are seeking shelter and mental health services in their libraries. (USA Today)
  • The national 988 hotline is up and running, but local call centers need workers and more funding to staff it well. (NPR)
  • Mental illness isn’t a red flag for shootings - a life crisis is. (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:

When can we expect the new multi-variant boosters? If I haven’t been boosted yet or need an additional booster, should I wait?

Good news on that front. Many states sent order forms for physicians, hospitals, and clinics late last week with general info about shipping in as little as three weeks. We expect that the guidance will likely say that anyone 12 and up who has completed their primary doses is eligible for the new boosters, regardless of whether they’ve had other boosters. Ultimately, you should talk with your doctor about whether to get boosted now or wait. While doses may be available before the end of September, those who aren’t at high risk for severe disease may need to wait a bit longer depending on how many are available and who’s eligible first. The CDC has indicated that even those who got boosters relatively recently will likely be eligible to get the new booster after just a few months when their immunity wanes, which could mean that there’s very little harm in getting your booster now and getting the Omicron-specific one later. We should have more information in the next week or two that could help you make this decision, as well.

We have employees who are hesitant to serve guests or care for customers with visible rashes. Any guidance on what to say to reassure them?

This is a really challenging issue, because there are thousands of conditions that cause visible rashes. By now, many of us have heard stories of people being mistakenly vilified for going out in public when they actually had totally non-infectious conditions like tumors, eczema, etc. You should start by educating your employees about monkeypox. 99% of the spread in this current outbreak is from prolonged close physical contact like sex or living in the same house. People aren’t getting it from touching surfaces (money, POS systems), quick interactions, or casual conversations.

If an employee provides a doctor’s note confirming a diagnosis of monkeypox, but it clears them to return to work in just a few days, is that ok?

Yes, as long as their lesions are fully healed, and the scabs have fallen off and there’s a new layer of skin covering them. The virus can live in the lesions and scabs and therefore spread even if the sores are scabbed over, so those being fully healed is key. In most cases we’re seeing two to three weeks after symptom onset before someone is cleared to return, so a very short period of time is out of the ordinary. We’d want to confirm that the symptom onset was earlier than the date of the doctor’s note, and confirm that the employee meets the criteria of healed lesions before they can return. If the doctor’s note is returning them just a few days after symptom onset, we’d want to learn a bit more and ensure we have all the correct information.

Should we be talking to employees about polio?

Yes, if only to encourage them to check that they’re vaccinated and to vaccinate their own kids. There’s very low risk for most people since the polio vaccine is part of the standard childhood vaccination series in the U.S. But over the past few years, we’ve seen a drop in childhood vaccinations - in part due to early pandemic concerns about going to the doctor, and in part due to growing anti-vax sentiments. Most of your employees should already be protected from polio, but if they’re not, it’s a good idea to go get vaccinated now. The vaccine used in the US is safe, doesn’t use live virus, and poses no risk to others.

Best Read:

The CDC has guided the U.S. COVID epidemic to a soft landing—a manufactured conclusion that flies in the face of science, some experts say | Fortune

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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.