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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, May 31st

Hep A in Strawberries 🍓

COVID & Health News:

  • Organic strawberries may be linked to a Hepatitis A outbreak with at least 17 cases. Don’t eat or serve FreshKampo or HEB brand organic strawberries purchased between March 5 and April 25. (FDA)
  • The WHO has called the monkeypox outbreak a “moderate” global health risk. (WHO)
  • There is no need to skip the Pride parade! While the monkeypox outbreak has disproportionately affected people in the LGBTQ+ community, the risk of transmission at outdoor gatherings is very low. (Reuters)
  • The US will distribute 1.25 million cans of baby formula shipped from overseas. (FDA)
  • Asymptomatic COVID patients don’t spread the virus nearly as much as those with symptoms, with about two-thirds lower rate of viral spread. (CIDRAP)
  • A study of more than 60,000 people in SF found that the latest Omicron surge included less loss of taste or smell, fever and body aches than previous variants, and more cough, sore throat, and congestion. (SF Chronicle)
  • Vaccines lower the risk of severe complications from long COVID. (CIDRAP)
  • Kids get long COVID, too, and experts are racing to understand the impact. (Fortune)
  • Heatwaves across the US are a threat to millions, as heat-related illness and death claim more victims each year. (NBC)
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended the COVID Emergency Declaration, which allows extended driving hours for drivers of certain goods affected by supply chain issues among other relaxed standards, until August 31st. (Transport Topics)

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.

  • Des Moines is trying an innovative program where mental health providers respond to certain 911 calls - modeled after a program introduced in Austin last year. (Axios)
  • Gun violence has a devastating effect on the mental health of the affected communities, but also on those who follow the news closely. (NY Times)
  • Parents in particular are struggling to cope with the stressors being thrown at them. (Axios)
  • School districts in certain states are now allowing student mental health days and other states are watching.  (Verywell Mind)

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:

Is monkeypox sexually transmitted?

Despite what you may have heard, monkeypox isn’t actually a sexually transmitted infection like syphillus or gonorrhea. Monkeypox is spread through close physical contact with someone infected - contact with the lesions from their rash, breathing in large respiratory droplets, body fluids, broken skin, or even contact with clothing or bed sheets used by the sick person. Anyone under those circumstances can get infected with monkeypox. It’s true that a significant percentage of the current outbreak cases are in gay and bisexual men, and that there are a higher number of cases causing a rash in the groin area. Men who have sex with men are at a higher risk for contracting monkeypox right this moment, because it’s spreading from a specific infected person or persons who are part of that community in Europe, but it could easily spread outside of that group, as well. Experts agree that this outbreak isn’t just spread through sex, and anyone who has close physical contact with someone sick could become infected themselves.

Things were quiet for non-COVID illness for so long and now it feels like everything else is back!  Is that just us or is everyone seeing this?

You’re not alone! Other illnesses are back with a vengeance as COVID precautions that limited their spread have been lifted and people have resumed their normal activities for the most part. We’re seeing an uptick in flu…in May! We’re also seeing common adenovirus that’s linked to hepatitis in kids, RSV in the summer, and monkeypox outside of the areas that it’s endemic. It’s not just you - it’s everywhere. Experts think part of it has to do with the fact that we lost a lot of acquired immunity by locking ourselves inside for the past two years. Because kids and adults haven’t really had any exposure, they’re more susceptible. Doctors and public health experts are watching anxiously to see how the viruses respond after a two-year hiatus, as well.

If COVID cases are being undercounted, what is the real number right now?

The daily average is just over 109,000, but we know that’s a drastic undercount now that so many people are relying on rapid at-home tests. Estimates for the real number can go as high as 10-14 times higher than what we’re seeing reported, which would mean we’re at a very high number nationwide. This matches what we’ve seen and heard - that more people are getting sick in lots of different communities around the country right now.

If I have Paxlovid rebound, should I take another course of pills?

The CDC and FDA right now advise against taking a second round of Paxlovid pills if you experience a rebound after finishing the first course. Researchers are still exploring how best to handle rebound cases. Some think that a second course might be prudent, especially because rebound cases can still be severe in rare cases. Others are worried that having people take two courses of the pill could increase the likelihood of drug-resistant virus and could have other unintended consequences because it hasn’t been extensively studied yet. Overall, our advice is to speak with your healthcare provider. Don’t start (or stop!) taking Paxlovid without consulting a doctor.

Best Read:

You Are Going to Get COVID Again … And Again … And Again - The Atlantic

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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.