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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, November 22nd

Food safety at your Thanksgiving table 🚫🤢


  • Scientists are working to create lab-grown antibodies for COVID immunity. (Washington Post)
  • NFL games with in-person fans may have spiked COVID cases in those counties. (CIDRAP)
  • 1 in 7 parents avoided vaccine talk with their child’s doctor during the pandemic. (MedPage Today)
  • Parental doubt seems to be driving low uptake in COVID boosters for kids. (CIDRAP)
  • Long COVID clinics are still wrestling with how to treat patients. (NPR)
  • Dr. Fauci briefed reporters today for the last time after 50+ years in government service. (ABC)
  • “Verified” anti-vax accounts are proliferating on Twitter as it transitions. (The Guardian)

Public Health & MPX News:

  • Flu is now “high” or “very high” in 30 states, with cases highest in the South. (NBC)
  • This year’s dominant flu strain, H3N2, is associated with more severe illness for kids and the elderly. (CNBC)
  • Cold and flu season is negatively impacting businesses, as scores of employees are home sick themselves or taking care of sick kids. (KATU)
  • Hospitals are pushed to the brink because of RSV, flu, and COVID, with long wait times and packed beds - and it may get worse. (Washington Post)
  • Amoxicillin, a common antibiotic used for children’s infections, is running short, as is Tamiflu, an antiviral. (CNN)
  • 1 in 4 female MPX cases were not linked to sex. (CIDRAP)
  • The CDC is warning of TPoxx-resistant MPX strains found in two immunocompromised patients. (CDC)
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the Biden Administration to declare an emergency over the RSV surge. (Fox)
  • A soil fungus that causes lung infections, histoplasmosis, can now be found in nearly all 50 states, according to a new study. (Gizmodo)

Mental Health News:

  • The Colorado nightclub shooting comes in a year rife with anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. Homophobic and anti-trans hate crimes and gun violence create even more negative mental health impact on members of the LGBTQ+ community. (NPR)
  • The Confess project aims to support the mental health of Black men by training barbers to listen and support clients in crisis. (Forbes)
  • Identifying your triggers, limiting social media, and practicing self-compassion are strategies experts suggest to help manage your mental health this holiday season. (Psychology Today)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. If you’re an LGBTQ+ young person in need of support, text START to the Trevor project at 678678. Callers of all ages can call the LGBT National Hotline at 888-843-4564.

Best Questions:

I just have a mild cold, and it’s not COVID. Can I visit family for Thanksgiving or go to work?

Nope, sorry. You may think it’s just a mild cold, but RSV, flu, and COVID - along with dozens of other viruses - are circulating like crazy right now. If you’re sick, you can get others sick, and that’s not something they’ll be thankful for. RSV is often a mild cold for adults but can be deadly for kids, and spreads like wildfire. If you’re sick today, the unfortunate reality is that you should stay home until you’re feeling better. Don’t go to work, attend holiday gatherings, or go to public indoor places right now if you have any kind of illness, even if you don’t think it’s COVID.

I’m cooking for a large group at Thanksgiving. How can I make sure I don’t give them food poisoning?

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s surprisingly susceptible to foodborne illness. Undercooked turkey and raw eggs can be a breeding ground for salmonella, C. perfringens, campylobacter, and E.coli. First, don’t thaw your turkey in warm water or on the counter. And don’t wash your turkey! Despite some traditional recipes, it can spread germs. When you’re cooking a lot of food and preparing things throughout the day, the risk of cross-contamination is already high and made higher if you spread poultry juices around by washing your bird. Leaving food at room temp for too long is another common culprit, and food between 40° and 140° can allow dangerous bacteria to grow. Lastly, consider cooking your stuffing on the side versus inside the turkey, since it’s hard to ensure it reaches proper temps. So, be sure to wash your hands often, avoid cross-contamination, cook all food to the proper internal temp, and put those leftovers away as soon as possible after the meal.

Why did flu season start so early this year?

Nearly 3 million people in the US have already gotten the flu so far this year, even though flu season should only just be starting. In large part, this is because flu basically disappeared over the past two seasons due to COVID precautions, which means people haven’t had any exposure to it in years. It’s particularly likely that it’s spreading in young kids who have never been exposed at all and aren’t vaccinated yet.

What are the differences between flu, COVID, and RSV? How do I know which one I’m sick with?

All three illnesses are similar, which makes figuring out which one you have a challenge. It’s also a good reminder that testing negative for COVID doesn’t mean much, since you could still have the flu, RSV, or another virus. For adults, flu and COVID often have very similar symptoms, though flu may have a quicker onset and COVID may have more of a “constellation” of symptoms. Right now with the variants circulating in the US, sore throat is the most common first symptom of COVID. RSV on the other hand may look more like the common cold in adults, with runny nose and sneezing. In kids, RSV can look like breathing problems and fever. There are tests for all three viruses, but only COVID tests are available for at-home testing. Remember that even if you test negative for COVID and even flu, you can still spread whatever virus you do have to others, and it can be deadly for babies and elderly people, even if it’s just a cold for you.

Best Read:

Worker Well-being Takes Center Stage: Fireside Chat with the U.S. Surgeon General

A quick note: we’ll be off on Friday and return next week. Have a happy and safe holiday.

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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.