Public Health & COVID News:
- New test strips can detect lethal xylazine, also known as tranq, in drug supply. (STAT)
- Printed receipts at most major chains contain toxic chemicals like BPA. (CBS)
- A rare parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, killed four sea otters in California and could potentially infect any warm-blooded animal, including humans. (CNN)
- As the nation reels from the latest school shooting in Nashville, a study found that 1 in 4 Colorado kids could get access to a loaded gun within 24 hours. (KHN)
- The virus that causes COVID can actually change the structure of cells. (Houston Chronicle)
- Poverty and racism “weather” the body, accelerating aging and disease. (NPR)
- The FDA is expected this week to allow naloxone (brand name Narcan) to be sold over the counter, a step toward making it a common emergency tool. (NY Times)
- New storms are expected to hit the West after the South suffered a deadly tornado outbreak this past weekend, raising issues for business owners and public health. (ABC)
- The risk of long COVID is on the decline, possibly due to vaccination or the evolution of variants - or both. (SF Chronicle)
Mental Health News:
- When college athletes die by suicide, healing the team becomes the next goal. (KHN)
- Watching live sporting events in person is linked with higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of loneliness. (Washington Post)
- Asian Americans are struggling with their mental health, driven by anti-Asian hate and racism. (Axios)
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
What should we do to prepare for the major storm that’s predicted to hit us?
If you know you’re in a storm’s path, doing some prep beforehand can help you open up more easily after.
- Consider your power source and secure a generator if possible (be sure not to use it indoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning).
- Prepare for a boil water order, which is often required after a big storm sullies the water supply.
- Buy water, ice, bottled soda, and paper goods.
- Prep your cleaning solutions in advance and wash all of your rags, napkins, and anything else that needs to be laundered.
- Ensure that important items (like food or electronics) aren’t on or near the floor in case of flooding.
For restaurants and foodservice, specifically:
- If you think you’re likely to have a major power outage, cook the food that will spoil beforehand - you can always send it home with employees to eat during the storm.
- Fill clean plastic garbage pails with water and freeze them overnight to keep your walk-ins cold, and be sure to leave the door closed to keep it cold for as long as possible.
- After the storm, if you aren’t sure whether to serve a food item, don’t guess - throw it out!
- Be sure to dispose of it in a place where no one gets access to it.
- Especially after huge storms, food scarcity means that people may look to your back door or dumpsters for food, and you don’t want to get them sick.
What do we need to do to reopen after a storm?
Reopening after a storm, like those that tore through the South this week, can be particularly challenging. Have one manager call to check on employees and see who’s available to work, while another leads on preparing the physical space for reopening. Before you get started, call your health inspector or local health department to find out if they’ll let you open, if other businesses near you are opening, and whether you can get all the supplies you need. It might make sense to stay closed for a few days if you can’t get the staff or your food delivery isn’t able to make it on the closed roads, for example. If you’ll be reopening under a boil water order, which is common after a major storm, you’ll need even more staff to operate than usual. Sometimes, the best way to stay open is to get a sister location outside of the storm-affected area to support. In foodservice, that may mean renting a refrigerated truck to deliver pre-prepped food. Lean on your vendors, who can help get you things like bottled water, prepped veggies instead of your normal order, or more frequent deliveries, and are often happy to help. So can we - give ZHH a call or chat via the app and our team can help you think through everything from boil water orders to local health ordinances.
Should I get another booster dose this spring?
The CDC and FDA haven’t made any recommendations yet about whether higher-risk adults should get another booster this spring, even though the UK and Canada recommend them for anyone who’s immunocompromised. COVID has calmed down quite a bit in the US, though there are still 300 people dying daily, mostly over age 65 or with other medical issues that make them high risk, like a compromised immune system. For healthy people under 65, the recommendation will almost certainly remain a once-yearly booster in the fall, like a flu shot. The FDA got a lot of flak for their confusing booster recommendations, and they’re hoping to simplify by requiring just one annual fall dose. But for older people, those who are immunocompromised, or people living in nursing homes, a once-a-year booster may not provide the protection they need, since it wanes quickly. If you’re in that category, talk to your doctor - some are open to giving additional boosters and others want to wait for an FDA recommendation. Still, less than one in five Americans have their updated bivalent booster, so this is a very small subset of the population considering whether to get a second. If you haven’t gotten your first booster, now’s the time!