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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, June 28th

Why we’re not ready for a monkeypox epidemic

COVID & Health News:

  • Florida doctors are throwing away brand new pediatric COVID vaccine doses because they came earlier than expected and FL won’t authorize state-funded programs to administer them. (Miami Herald)
  • The current monkeypox outbreak may be much bigger than the CDC has reported, in part because of how difficult it is to test for monkeypox and how little testing is available. (NPR)
  • The virus causing the monkeypox outbreak appears to have mutated in order to spread faster. (CIDRAP)
  • The FDA is meeting today to decide whether to update boosters for the fall for a more specific vaccine aimed at newer variants. (NYT)
  • Pfizer says their Omicron-specific booster out-performs the current vaccine. (STAT)
  • A 4th dose of Pfizer was effective against COVID deaths in nursing homes. (CIDRAP)
  • Summer predictions for COVID cases are suddenly much more grim, after reports that BA.4 and BA.5 are escaping our immunity. (The Boston Globe)
  • Range Rover claims that their car’s filtration system can help prevent SARS-Cov-2 transmission. (ABC)
  • Poor women of color will bear the brunt of the abortion ban in a country that already has abysmal maternal health care and outcomes for people of color. (ABC)
  • Women are stocking up on the morning-after pill, and major pharmacies are rationing the pills temporarily to try to ensure “more equitable access.” (NY Times)
  • DC began offering free, confidential monkeypox vaccines for eligible people who may be at higher risk based on transmission patterns, including a large portion of the LGBTQ+ community who have sex with men. (Axios)
  • The more times you’re reinfected with COVID, the more you increase your chances of getting “unlucky” with long COVID. (Business Insider)
  • NIH is beginning a human clinical trial of a universal flu vaccine which could provide long-term flu protection and even be effective in a pandemic. (NIAID)

Mental Health News:

  • The pandemic is still impacting how happy we are according to a new happiness survey. (The Hill)
  • Workplace mental health benefits can reduce sick days, increase productivity, and even save employers money. (Fortune)
  • Even C-level managers are feeling burned out, with nearly 70% saying they’d leave their job for one that better supports their wellbeing. (Axios)

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:

Should we encourage employees to test after they’ve traveled or attended large gatherings?

Yes, we still believe that ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to COVID. Testing after travel or large gatherings, especially those that were indoors, is still the best way to prevent an outbreak. We’ve heard of workplace outbreaks being tied to car rides, international travel, weddings, clubs, and everything in between. If you encourage your employees to test regularly after they’ve engaged in high-risk activities, you are more likely to spot COVID positive cases early on and ensure they’re not exposing others at work during their infectious period.

Has anything changed as we prepare for our annual conference?

Not really, though travel restrictions like mask mandates or testing to return to the US after international travel have been lifted, making the logistics a bit easier if you’re planning anything in another country. Overall, though, our guidance hasn’t changed. Stick with events outdoors as much as possible. Test attendees before they travel and once they arrive. Have a solid plan for how you’ll take care of them if they do test positive at the conference, and consider singles versus shared rooms to help minimize transmission. Conferences in the warmer months tend to have slightly fewer outbreaks compared to those in the winter because of the option for outdoor and more ventilated spaces with open windows.

Should we be blasting out reminders about vaccinations and boosters again (or should we be waiting for a new booster)?

This is a tough question to answer, but overall we think yes - you should be communicating to your eligible employees that they should have at least one booster dose as soon as they’re able to get one. For those who are 50+ or moderately to severely immunocompromised, they should have two booster doses. While we do expect some new doses available in the fall that are slightly better tailored to Omicron, we think the communication from employers and public health agencies should be consistent - get boosted as soon as possible! The risk in the meantime is just too high to skip one now, especially for those eligible for a second booster. For those who are still on the fence about waiting for a new Omicron-specific booster, we recommend talking to your doctor to assess your personal risk.

My positive test was very, very faint. Is it positive?

Yes! Even extremely faint lines on a rapid COVID test mean that you’re positive for the virus and you should act accordingly. It actually takes a fair amount of virus for anything to show up at all, so if you see a faint line, it’s safe to assume that you’re infectious. If your line is incredibly faint and you can’t tell if it’s there or not, we suggest waiting 24 hours (and isolating, especially if you have symptoms!), and taking another test. Often, the first test is very faint and the next day, it’s much more visible because the virus has been replicating in your nasal passages during that time. Long story short, if you see any second line on a rapid test, you should assume it’s a true positive and self-isolate.

Best Read:

A monkeypox epidemic may be here. The US isn't ready for it - STAT

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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.