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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, May 24th

What you need to know about monkeypox

COVID & Health News:

  • Good news from the scientists who have identified the genomic sequencing for the new monkeypox outbreak - it’s not all that different from prior strains, which means it isn’t mutating significantly. (MedPage Today)
  • Monkeypox is not sexually transmitted, but spread through close contact and can live on surfaces. The CDC says that many of the people affected globally are gay and bisexual men, but that just happens to be a community with higher exposure changes right now - anyone can get it after close contact with someone sick. (CNBC)
  • The CDC has issued an alert and the FDA a recall for Jif peanut butter for Salmonella senftenberg (an unusual strain). This is an extremely common brand and size for food banks and households as well as used in many products that contain peanut butter. (CDC)
  • Rescue workers in Sweden are delivering automated defibrillators to cardiac arrest victims in just over three minutes, an amazing feat that’s already saving lives. (Reuters)
  • The FDA will “move quickly” to approve COVID vaccines in kids under 5, with the hope of getting kids vaccinated before the next school year in the fall. (AP)
  • A conference for thousands of emergency room doctors may be turning into a superspreader event after few precautions were followed at the actual meeting.  (MedPage Today)
  • An active TB case was found in a Missouri middle school. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)
  • The CDC bolstered its recommendation for a second COVID booster, saying adults 50 and older and immunocompromised persons 12 and older "should" get the shot, which is stronger language than they used before. (CDC)
  • NYC has confirmed 4 cases of Legionnaires disease in the Bronx, which is often spread through contaminated water. (ABC)

Mental Health News:

May is Mental Health Awareness month. We’re proud to join the movement to bring more awareness to mental health issues that are facing your employees and communities.

  • The pandemic has sparked new growth for Ben’s Friends, a restaurant industry-specific support group for those struggling with addiction. (Nation’s Restaurant News)
  • The University of Oregon and Google are conducting a study on the impact of phones on our mental health. (The Verge)
  • 1 in 3 Americans aren’t getting enough sleep - a key factor in maintaining emotional wellbeing. (Axios)
  • States are continuing to prepare for the launch of 988 this summer, a mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline that goes live in mid-July. (CNN)

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:

How worried should we be about monkeypox?

This is definitely a concerning outbreak, and we know the horrific impact that downplaying an emergent disease can have from our experiences with COVID and AIDS. That said, there are still only just over 100 confirmed cases worldwide, so we are nowhere near pandemic levels of infection right now. At this stage, people should continue to take the same precautions they do for COVID. Symptoms are similar to COVID and flu, but also include swollen lymph nodes. Generally a few days after symptom onset, a rash begins - most often on the palms and feet, but occasionally in the eyelids, nose, mouth, or genitals. If you have any of those symptoms, call your doctor. A key difference between monkeypox and COVID is that because of its similarity to smallpox and other diseases we know a lot about, we actually already have a ton of research and treatment options.

Should we look into buying smallpox vaccine for our employees?

Amazingly, the smallpox vaccine is about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, so that’s great news in general, though some younger people who were born after smallpox was eradicated may not be protected. That said, we don’t think you need to be buying vaccine for your employees just yet. Individual employees may consider discussing their vaccination status with their doctor.

Should we still host a large party or conference as cases are rising? What about if it’s planned for the fall?

We’re unfortunately seeing over and over that large parties or meetings are still regularly resulting in outbreaks, especially if there’s not repeated testing. Most experts agree that we’ll see another surge in the fall, though many are hopeful that it won’t be as bad as the one we had in January. Still, we’re certainly wary of hosting large in-person meetings in the fall and winter, where there are fewer outdoor options. If you do, we highly recommend requiring testing before travel to and upon arrival at the event. Open windows, host as much as possible outside, and consider masks in enclosed areas.

How many times can the same person get COVID?

The answer isn’t fun to hear - it’s a lot. The same person appears to be able to get COVID many times. Lots of people have had it at least twice, with some getting four or more times. Omicron has made reinfection more likely and appears to have shortened the amount of time that someone’s protected after getting sick. So, just because you had COVID before doesn’t mean you can’t get it again, though you do still have a higher level of protection than someone who hasn’t had it recently.

Best Read

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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.