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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, October 25th

A tripledemic? RSV, flu, and COVID are already here and straining hospitals. Winter could be worse.


  • The main COVID symptoms have changed over time. Now, they’re sore throat, runny nose, persistent cough, and headache. For those who are unvaccinated, fever is also a common symptom. For those fully vaxxed, congestion is, too. (The Hill)
  • California released a new definition of close contact that changes based on the size of the indoor space. For smaller rooms, it’s now defined as “sharing the same indoor space” for a cumulative 15 mins, while they’ve kept the 6ft rule for larger spaces. (Fisher Phillips)
  • Statins, common cholesterol-lowering drugs, may reduce the risk of death or severe illness from COVID. (CIDRAP)
  • Feeling sick after getting your COVID vaccine is actually a good sign that you’re developing a greater antibody response. (CNN)
  • SARS-CoV-2 is still evolving rapidly, but all within the Omicron family. It’s continuing to find new ways to evade our immunity. (NPR)
  • HHS is rolling out new ads targeted for communities with slow booster uptake. (CNN)
  • At the pandemic’s start, men died at a much higher rate than women. (WSJ)

Public Health & MPX News:

  • Plague survivors passed on some mutations that helped protect them against the pathogen, but it increased their risk of autoimmune diseases. (NPR)
  • Pfizer’s COVID vaccine will likely cost $110-$130 per dose after the government’s purchasing contract ends. That’s about 4x. (Reuters)
  • Deadly fungi are infecting more Americans, and these infections kill 1.6 million people a year. (WSJ)
  • The pandemic disrupted measles vaccinations in Africa, and cases are now surging there. (Reuters)
  • Ebola cases are surging in Uganda after an unexpected weekend spike. (NBC)

Mental Health News:

  • The Surgeon General released a great framework for how to improve workplace mental health. 81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future. (HHS)
  • Many assumptions about eating disorders are wrong, and even larger-bodied people can be anorexic. (NY Times)
  • The pandemic had a varied toll on people’s mental health - some, including a larger percentage of parents, actually report better mental health now than pre-pandemic, while women were overall more negatively impacted. (BBC)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. For support with an eating disorder, call or text the National Eating Disorder Association at (800) 931-2237.

Best Questions:

Does handwashing still matter with COVID?

This week, the Atlantic released an article entitled “The Great Pandemic Hand-Washing Blooper.” It discusses the ways that early messages around COVID were focused on handwashing and clean surfaces, before scientists discovered that the virus was primarily transmitted through the air. But don’t let the headline fool you - the author and all public health experts agree that handwashing is still crucial for many other viruses, including gastrointestinal diseases like norovirus. Likewise, not all cleaning is hygiene theater. Disinfecting key touch points like bathroom door handles, faucets, toilets and similar high traffic areas is still important for the prevention of many other illnesses.

What is an appropriate response from a manager when a guest calls a restaurant and claims they got sick?

First, make sure it’s the most senior manager available, with a focus on making the guest feel heard. How this first call is handled is often the deciding factor in whether they call the health department or talk about their experience with their friends. Be polite, but don’t take responsibility - you can still express empathy and concern that the guest is sick.

Get as much information as you can:

  • Name
  • How many guests in their party
  • Contact info and best time to reach them
  • When did they dine with you?
  • What did they eat?
  • What are their symptoms?
  • When did symptoms first start?
  • Is anyone else in their party sick?

Don’t share more information than necessary (like telling them if anyone else is sick), and don’t acknowledge or imply that a meal at your restaurant caused their illness – in all likelihood, it didn’t! Tell them you’ll get back to them shortly, and try to do that within 24 hours. Once you’re off the phone, loop in your senior management team to debrief and discuss next steps.

Do you see lockdowns or restrictions occurring again if there is another surge?

A surge is coming - it’s really already here. We’re just waiting to see how bad it gets, and that will likely have an impact on restrictions at the local and company-specific levels. At a national or state-wide level, we’re less sure. It’s hard to put the cat back into the bag, and reinstating pandemic precautions after removing them is going to be a very hard-fought battle. Instead, we expect some reinstated mask mandates determined by businesses and local government, like at event venues, public transportation, etc. We doubt we’ll see full lockdowns again with COVID, unless there’s a really unexpected mutation.

Best Read:

A ‘Tripledemic’? Flu and Other Infections Return as Covid Cases Rise - The New York Times

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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.