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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, November 1st

Record Flu #s 🤧

ZHH News:

Wednesday, November 9th at 3pm ET

Did you know that 81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future?

Join us for a discussion on workplace mental health with Roslyn Stone, MPH, CEO of Zero Hour Health, with Lori Govar, MSW, an employee behavioral health expert, and Liz Colizza, LPC, the Director of Research and Programs at Talkspace.

They'll talk about what employers can do to support your team - and in turn, help your business thrive.

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  • A high school in St. Elizabeth, Maine has been closed temporarily after more than 20% of students called out sick. (WGME)
  • Scientists in the UK have identified a number of new variants that could fuel a winter surge. (Bloomberg)
  • The Supreme Court upheld the TSA’s right to mandate masks on public transportation. (Forbes)
  • More severe COVID is linked to a higher risk for long COVID. (CIDRAP)
  • Long COVID affects more women than men. (CNBC)

Public Health & MPX News:

  • Flu season in the US is off to an early start, with hospitalization rates for the month of October the highest they’ve been in over a decade. (WSJ)
  • Pfizer’s RSV vaccine, which may be approved for use in the next few months, protects babies when it’s given during pregnancy. (Washington Post)
  • A record number of cholera outbreaks worldwide are linked to droughts, floods, and war. They’re outpacing the vaccine supply. (NY Times)
  • An egg farm in Iowa with over a million chickens has been infected with the bird flu. (ABC)
  • Dentists are being warned to clean their water lines after a number of children were sickened with nontuberculosis Mycobacteria infections. (CDC)

Mental Health News:

  • Teens are turning to TikTok in search of mental health diagnoses. (NY Times)
  • Peer support can help address the mental health crisis, and the mental health care system is finally starting to acknowledge its usefulness. (Slate)
  • More kids are being screened for anxiety and depression, but how to support them after diagnosis amid a provider shortage can be a real challenge for parents. (WSJ)

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:

I got a booster recently but just got COVID? How is that possible?

The boosters are amazing tools, but their role is to help prevent serious illness and death from COVID. They don’t prevent infection entirely, though they do still reduce your chances of getting sick after exposure. If you’ve gotten the updated booster, your COVID infection was likely mild and you didn’t need to go to the hospital. Your chances of long COVID are lower, too, which is a huge win when so many people have serious long COVID symptoms, even with mild infection. Even though vaccines can’t prevent the spread of COVID entirely, they’re still a very important tool to help make sure you don’t get very sick and to reduce your risk of long COVID.

What does the Hep A situation look like?

Hep A is back after it really dropped off during COVID while we were socially distancing, not working sick, and practicing better handwashing. We’ve had multiple clients with Hep A cases over the past few months, particularly in the last few weeks. There is a new study that links 90% of Hep A cases to IV substance abuse. While that takes some of the attention off of the foodservice community, every workforce is impacted by drugs. And we have public interactions and bathrooms used by at-risk populations leaving us potentially exposed. When asked if we could relax some precautions, the answer is no - since a single Hep A case going public can destroy a business even if foodborne transmission of Hep A is unlikely.  

COVID seems to come with more GI illness lately. Can you tell COVID from norovirus or other foodborne illness?

It’s true that the most recent Omicron variants circulating in the US seem to have more GI issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, in the early stages, it can be very hard to tell the difference between COVID and other illnesses. Norovirus tends to be extreme, sometimes with dozens of instances of both vomiting and diarrhea (even at the same time), which is more intense than the GI we’re seeing with COVID. GI symptoms along with cold symptoms, like runny nose, congestion, or cough, are more common with COVID. In short, it’s best to stay home with any GI symptoms until you’re at least 48 hours symptom-free, especially if you work in a foodservice setting.  

Will (or should) employees be tested for RSV if they’re sick?

Many doctors don’t actually conduct a test for RSV in adults unless there’s a specific reason to do so. Rapid and PCR tests exist for RSV, but it’s more likely that a doctor will test for flu and COVID when an adult presents with respiratory symptoms, in part because the rapid test is less sensitive in adults. RSV testing is more common in kids because young children are more likely to have severe disease from this virus. Adults tend to have milder illness and may be asymptomatic. For employers, the results of the test matter less than ensuring that sick employees stay home when they’re not feeling well, even if they don’t test positive for flu or COVID. RSV is one of many other infectious diseases out there that we don’t want to spread at work.

Best Read:

Vox:  Why everybody you know is sick right now

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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.