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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, May 3rd

New California rules & more

COVID Recap:

  • NYC entered a higher risk level as cases continue to climb with nearly 2500 new cases per day on the record, and there are likely many more going unreported. (NY Times)
  • The latest variant, BA.2.12.1, is now responsible for over a third of new US cases. (US News)
  • A new spike in cases in Puerto Rico came just five days after major restrictions were lifted. (NY Times)
  • Southern states should prepare for a summer COVID surge, and northern states should prepare for a winter surge, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, who led the coronavirus task force under the Trump administration. (CNN)
  • Pharmacies in most states can’t administer shots to babies and toddlers, limiting the convenience of shots for kids under 3, which are expected to be approved as soon as next month. (Washington Post)
  • Vaccine uptake rose over 10% after a Minnesota company offered a $1000 incentive for workers to get vaccinated. (CIDRAP)
  • Young, healthy men are seeing cardiac issues, including swelling and scarring of the muscle, after mild cases of COVID. (MedPage Today)
  • Moderna says it will have an Omicron-specific booster by the fall. (The Hill)
  • Denmark will destroy a million unused, expiring COVID shots. (AP)
  • South Africa’s latest surge may be a preview of what’s to come for us. Cases have tripled and hospitalizations are up amid the spread of two new variants - BA.4 and BA.5. (NY Times)

Today’s Health News:

  • HHS director Javier Becerra wants more money for mental health treatment, saying it shouldn’t be treated as less important than physical health. (CBS)
  • A new Alzheimer’s vaccine was fast-tracked by the FDA this week. (Dallas Morning News)
  • Flu vaccination is associated with a 34% lower risk of cardiac events! (CIDRAP)
  • The Lone Star tick, which makes people develop a sudden allergy to red meat, has now been discovered in D.C. (Washington Post)

Best Questions:

Will we ever stop seeing new COVID variants?

Unfortunately, the answer might actually be no. Like the flu, we might continue to see mutations and new variants emerging year to year, and our future vaccination might look more like the flu shot, which is decided annually based on what the previous flu season looked like and what’s happening in the opposite hemisphere during their flu season. Scientists and doctors will choose two or three variants of concern, and create a special formula of vaccine aimed at those variants, and some years will be more effective than others based on that best guess.

What’s the deal with California regulations? Have they changed?

There are two major changes that have happened recently in California, and they’re both extremely complicated. First, the California Department of Public Health recently changed its guidance, getting rid of quarantine requirements for anyone asymptomatic who’s been exposed, regardless of their vaccination status. What’s complicated, however, is that this guidance contradicts the CDC’s guidance, which recommends a five day quarantine for anyone who isn’t fully up to date on their vaccinations (meaning they’ve completed their initial series of vaccine and been boosted once eligible). Individual counties also have conflicting info; San Francisco, Alameda, and multiple others are also sticking with CDC guidance for exposed people who aren’t up to date on their vaccinations.

Further complicating things, CalOSHA recently approved a third round of changes to their emergency temporary standard, which will go into effect on May 6th and last through the end of the year. It generally defers to CDPH guidelines, but still requires companies to pay up to 10 days of quarantine pay for exposed employees, even though it’s effectively no longer calling for quarantine for anyone regardless of vaccination status.

CalOSHA hasn’t yet published the new version of the ETS, so we’re not making any changes to our requirements or procedures just yet, and we’re waiting to see it in writing before we do.We’ve checked in with legal experts, and consulted many of our clients and have ultimately decided to stick with the current exclusion for now, but we’re keeping a close eye on the exclusion length and testing to return requirements. We’ll update our own recommendations once things are clearer.

Do you still need a COVID test to get back into the US after international travel?

Yes, anyone over the age of two who is flying into the US still needs a negative COVID test in order to return. The test must be taken no more than one day before your flight back to the US. Antigen tests and PCR tests are both permitted, but at-home tests must be proctored via a telehealth provider. The only exception is someone who has tested positive in the past 90 days, who will need to show proof of the positive test along with a letter from a healthcare provider saying that they’re cleared for travel. In some countries, you can just bring a COVID test from home, but some countries have restrictions on importing tests that aren’t approved there - check the rules at your destination before packing tests in your bag.

Best Read:

A major threat to the next pandemic: Vaccine hesitancy

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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.