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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, March 14th

CA finally moves to 5 days 🖐🗓


  • California’s Department of Public Health has (finally) reduced COVID isolation guidelines to 5 days from 10. Employees may return to work after 5 days as long as they’re fever-free and other symptoms are improving. The ZHH-Zedic clinical team will follow these new guidelines starting tomorrow. (CDPH)
  • Long COVID may cause face blindness in some people. (USA Today)
  • The editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library said that the takeaway of a recent Cochrane review that masks don't work is an "inaccurate and misleading interpretation.” (Cochrane.org)
  • As COVID becomes a common virus that all kids will be exposed to, it’s likely to get less intense, though a small subset of the population will always be at higher risk. (The Atlantic)
  • A combo of more immunity, better treatments, milder infections, and more people following mitigation measures likely played a role in why we didn’t see a surge this winter. (ABC)
  • While the risk of long COVID drops for second and third infections, it remains a risk. (ONS)
  • New studies further support that Metformin is highly effective in reducing long COVID by up to 42%. (Lancet)

Public Health News:

  • Montana is considering new legislation to loosen childhood vaccination rules. (KHN)
  • Albuterol, an asthma medication, is the latest drug shortage that may affect employee health. (USA Today)
  • Poor sleep decreases a vaccine’s effectiveness, especially for men, according to a new study. (CNN)
  • Although the risk to humans is still low, a group of scientists is highlighting some worrisome H5N1 bird flu mutations. (CIDRAP)
  • Mexican pharmacies are selling pills to US travelers that are laced with fentanyl. (NPR)
  • Pandemic stress, gangs, and fear caused a rise in teen shootings. (KHN)
  • A massive brown seaweed bloom in Florida is releasing hydrogen sulfide as it rots, which may affect the breathing of those who inhale it or cause eye irritation. (Fox)

Mental Health News:

  • The youth mental health crisis was the top patient safety concern among pediatricians this year. (ECRI)
  • Reminding employees about their mental health benefits reduces stigma and increases engagement. (Employee Benefits News)
  • A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court's ruling against a UnitedHealth subsidiary over behavioral health coverage denials. (Fierce Healthcare)

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:

What causes viruses to jump from animals to humans?

Land use changes are the leading cause of spillover, when viruses that affect animals make the leap to humans. Basically, any time that humans come into contact with wild animals that they haven’t previously been in close contact with, we increase the risk of a new zoonotic virus making the leap. Changing how we use and interact with the land - often through cutting down forest trees - is the main way that has been happening lately. We’ve seen deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture cause humans to get infected with “monkey malaria” in Borneo, Nipah in Malaysia (that’s the one the movie Contagion is based on), Hendra in Australia and Ebola in Guinea. Epidemiologists are keeping a close eye on the edges of recently-cleared forests around the world, but most agree that more surveillance and resources are needed to help prevent the next pandemic.

Our employees chat with the ZHH Clinical Team only when they’re sick. Is there ever a time we should temporarily convert back to daily wellness checks for all employees?

Yes! We always recommend doing daily wellness checks (sometimes called employee symptom surveys) for at least three days if there’s a confirmed case of foodborne illness, like E. coli, salmonella, or norovirus. Especially in an outbreak situation, we have seen time and time again that doing preemptive surveys does catch sick employees who dismissed their symptoms as “nothing big” and would have worked, endangering coworkers, guests, and your brand. If you use ZHH for your sick call program, it’s easy to have any specific location require their employees to take the survey daily, and our clinical team is on hand to chat with anyone who has symptoms and keep your business open and your team safe.

Should we be asking employees if they’ve been vaccinated for Hepatitis A?

While the CDC doesn’t require Hep A vaccination for food service workers, local health departments usually do require vaccination in an outbreak situation (and there are one or two local jurisdictions where it is required like St. Louis). When you have an employee positive for Hep A, one of the first steps will be figuring out which of your employees are vaccinated for it, so that you can coordinate with the local health department to vaccinate everyone else. Already having that list can save precious time in an outbreak situation and lead to a strong relationship with the health department. A few of our clients ask new hires to upload their Hep A vaccination information (if they have it) as part of the onboarding process - that’s the smoothest way.

An employee has E. coli but hasn’t worked in a few days. Do we need to exclude other employees for exposure?

The incubation period for most E. coli can range from 1 to 10 days, but is most often 3-4 days. If the employee worked in the 10 days before getting sick or after symptoms began, you should absolutely be doing daily wellness checks for all employees to monitor for symptoms. Person-to-person transmission of E. coli is unlikely, and foodborne transmission is much more likely. Generally, those exposed to someone positive for E. coli can continue to work as long as they closely monitor themselves for symptoms and stay home if any develop.

Best Read:

What Do We Actually Know About Covid-19? Not Enough - WSJ

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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.