Want to receive The Executive Briefing directly to your inbox? Subscribe here!
You've been subscribed!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Back to GetZedic.com

The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, September 27th

Colds + less sensitive tests = stay home if sick


  • European countries are seeing early signs of an Autumn COVID rise. (CIDRAP)
  • Previous infection with Omicron is the most protective against the newer BA.2 variant. (CIDRAP)
  • COVID cases aren’t rising dramatically with back-to-school, but testing is down significantly. (ABC)
  • In San Francisco, the official case counts are still declining but the wastewater shows that the virus is actually holding steady - an indicator that testing is lagging. (SF Chronicle)
  • There are higher rates of reinfection in those infected with newer subvariants like BA.1, BA.2, and BA.5 (CIDRAP)
  • CA lawmakers are likely to extend COVID-related paid sick leave for another 3 months. (ABC)

MPX News:

  • The Jynneos MPX vaccine is 79% effective against infection according to an Israeli preprint study. (Research Square)
  • MPX is stretching already-overburdened STI clinics to the brink. (STAT)
  • MPX is receding, thanks in large part to the mobilization of the LGBTQ+ community and an existing vaccine and treatment. But progress is uneven, with cases accelerating in some US cities. (NY Times)

Public Health News:

  • A COVID-like virus has been found in Russian bats. If it were to spill over to humans, it would be vaccine-resistant. (Washington State University)
  • Another new case of swine flu was found in a child who attended an agricultural fair in Georgia. (CDC)
  • Hospitals in the Tampa Bay area are evacuating as Hurricane Ian approaches, and thousands of businesses are closing in an effort to help employees and customers stay safe. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • A Cholera outbreak in Syria has killed 29 people so far and sickened many more. (Reuters)
  • The DOD is funding research on antibodies for the Plague. (CIDRAP)

Mental Health News:

  • Drug treatment center admissions fell by 23% over the pandemic, while overdose deaths and substance use disorders rose. (Axios)
  • Hospitals are developing a new “Empath” unit to better handle mental health crises. (Bloomberg)
  • Youth mental health was in decline long before COVID. (Healthline)

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:

Are rapid tests not as good (or slower) at detecting the latest variants?

It’s actually true that rapid tests - and even PCR tests - are not as good at detecting Omicron as they were at detecting previous variants. We’re not 100% sure why, but testing expert (and our friend) Mara Aspinall writes that we know that it’s not because the tests don’t work on this new virus (they do), it’s more likely that there are just fewer virus particles in nasal samples with this variant, or that Omicron is just better at getting into our bodies. Regardless, the outcome is that it can sometimes take one or even two full days of having symptoms before a COVID test reflects that someone is positive. It’s absolutely crucial that sick people are isolating whenever they have symptoms, even if the first test is negative. Two tests 48 hours apart are a much better measure of whether you’re contagious than one test.

Will there be new variants this winter?

There will almost certainly continue to be new variants of COVID regularly for the foreseeable future. Our best hope is that each new variant continues to make the virus more easily spread but less dangerous for those infected. That’s what’s been happening with the latest variants, but there’s no guarantee that the next variant is less dangerous. Our best bet is that there will be new subvariants this winter, at the minimum, but our hope is that getting more of the population boosted against the current Omicron variants will help keep that in check.

Should we still be contact tracing for COVID positives?

Ultimately, we still think it’s a good idea to let individuals know if they’ve been in close contact with someone COVID+ so that they can mask, monitor for symptoms, and test themselves on Day 6. We know it’s operationally challenging, though. Some of our clients are still doing full contact tracing and calling exposed employees to let them know - this may be required in states with regulations requiring sick pay for those who are exposed at work. Others are just blanket notifying the entire team who worked with the sick employee and encouraging them to get tested without following up beyond that. Whatever policy you choose, you should check with your legal team to ensure that you’re federal and state-OSHA compliant.

Are employees and their kids getting more colds and non-COVID illnesses lately, or is it just us?

You’re not imagining it! Everyone, but especially children, is getting the usual “common” colds and viruses that all but disappeared due to our prevention measures over the past few years. The issue is that we usually have a certain level of immunity built up due to exposure to and infection with common colds and flus throughout the year, but we haven’t been exposed to those very much (if at all) since the pandemic began, so we’re more vulnerable now that they’re back in circulation. These colds and flus are very difficult to tell apart from COVID, and they’re just as disruptive to business operations - so make sure that people know to stay home if they’re sick, even if they test negative for COVID.

Best Read:

10 tips for co-existing with covid and living a normal-ish life - The Washington Post

Share this article:

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.