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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, June 21st

Long COVID complications, plus more monkeypox false alarms

COVID & Health News

  • Omicron, including the newer BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, is less likely to cause long COVID. (CIDRAP)
  • Early Omicron infection is unlikely to provide protection from the current Omicron sub-variants. (Reuters)
  • Canada is relaxing its requirements for vaccinations to board trains and planes among other rule changes. (Toronto Star)
  • Business owners in LA are concerned that there may be return to mask requirements. (ABC7 News)
  • Confusion about when at-home COVID test kits expire continues with some kits’ expiration dates extended 3, 6, or 9 months. Telling when a kit is really expired isn’t easy. (NY Times)
  • A new study failed to show the benefit of Paxlovid for the general population who don’t have risk factors. (Stat News)
  • Now that school years are winding down, schools need to address long COVID, according to the Association of School Nurses. They expect thousands of kids will be experiencing symptoms, many of whom will need accommodations. (Education Week)
  • Nevada OSHA implemented strong new rules to protect workers from heat-related injuries and illness. (News3 LV)
  • Many states are dropping COVID-era permission for interstate telemedicine and it's impacting both continuity of care and availability from some of the nation’s top providers (like Johns Hopkins and Mayo). Telemedicine visits have boomed since early COVID. (Yahoo News)
  • A new brain scan can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease in a single non-invasive radiology procedure with near 100% accuracy. (SciTech)
  • Dr. Paul Ellwood died this week. He coined the term HMO in 1970, “envisioning a system that would compete for patients by providing the best care at the lowest price.” (NY Times)

Mental Health News:

  • A new study from the World Economic Forum finds that up to 90% of employees are affected by mental health challenges and broadly encourages employers worldwide to focus on mental wellbeing. (World Economic Forum).
  • As state run call centers across the country prepare for the new 988 mental health crisis line roll out in mid-July, 77% of Americans are unaware this new service is coming. (KCRG)
  • The founder of Bonobos, now owned by Walmart, opened up about his personal mental health struggles in his new book:  Burn Rate: Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind, highlighting how even business leaders are facing unprecedented mental health issues. (CNBC)
  • Social isolation, like what occurred in COVID, increases dementia later in life. (NIH)
  • The defense industry has a new initiative to destigmatize seeking mental health services - especially for those with high security clearance. (Washington Post)
  • Managing mental health after experiencing gun violence is a major subject currently being studied at University of Pennsylvania. Anxiety, depression and PTSD are common. (Penn Medicine)

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:

What are the symptoms of long COVID?

There are nearly 200 identified symptoms related to long COVID, some very common and others extremely rare. The most common are fatigue, heart and lung issues, neurological symptoms like brain fog, dizziness, and sleep issues, and digestive issues. That’s just a small sampling, and researchers are still struggling to define long COVID and start to figure out treatments. One thing that’s certainly true is that a lot of us will struggle with it - nearly one in five people with COVID had at least one medical issue due to long COVID at least a few weeks after their infection, and that number rose to one in four for seniors.

Why are we seeing so many false alarms for monkeypox?

We had our first alleged monkeypox case (a false alarm) about three weeks ago, and have had a couple each week since then. All of them have had alternate diagnoses in the end - usually shingles or chickenpox. One was actually eczema! While monkeypox itself really doesn’t pose a workplace risk, the fears it raises and general stigma already associated with it can be problematic. We recommend that you prepare your managers with good information and talking points should an employee communicate to coworkers that they’re being tested or that monkeypox is being ruled out as a diagnosis.

Who is eligible for boosters now?

Anyone aged 5 and up should get a booster at least 5 months after the initial series for Pfizer and Moderna (or 2 months after the initial shot for J&J). Anyone 50 and up, or anyone 12+ who is moderately or severely immunocompromised is eligible for a second booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna. If you got J&J for both your primary and booster, you’re eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna, which are proven to be more effective against COVID.

Is COVID becoming seasonal?

Most experts think that eventually, COVID will be seasonal like the flu, but it’s still too early to be sure just when we can expect COVID season each year. While cases have spiked each winter, we’ve also seen summer and fall surges, so it’s still too early to say that it’s seasonal just yet. That said, we do know that colder months when people head indoors and kids head back to school are likely to see a rise in cases compared to summer months. Our best bet is that eventually, we’ll start getting combination flu-and-covid shots each fall to combat both viruses. In the meantime, we can expect to get boosters somewhat regularly to protect against COVID.

Best Read:

The Atlantic:  Long COVID Could Be a Mass Deterioration Event

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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.