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The Executive Briefing - Friday, October 15th

OSHA ETS in review, plus new booster recs for Moderna and J&J

COVID Recap:

  • In the week’s biggest news for employers, OSHA submitted a draft emergency temporary standard to the Office of Management and Budget for review. We still don’t know what it says. (CNN)
  • The OMB is meeting with several industry groups to discuss the guidance outlined in the ETS - conversation is specifically focusing on partnering to boost vaccinations while minimizing negative impact on business. (Reuters)
  • An FDA panel unanimously voted to recommend booster doses for all recipients of the J&J shot, at least two months after their first dose. Next up, the CDC advisory panel will vote on this. (CNN)
  • The panel also recommended booster doses (½ dose) of Moderna vaccine for many Americans including those over age 65, those at high risk and in high risk jobs. (NYT)
  • Italy is requiring all workers to get vaccinated or test frequently at their own expense. (NYT)
  • The US will open borders to fully vaccinated and tested travellers in November. (NYT)
  • Minnesota is a new hotspot, with hospitals nearing full capacity and case counts nearing the levels from last January. (Star Tribune)
  • Anchorage, AK approved a mask mandate after weeks of intense debate - with doctors being heckled, an armed man being arrested, and some protestors wearing Stars of David to liken mask-wearing to the persecution of Jews in the Holocaust. (NY Times)
  • TX businesses are facing tough choices as they face competing guidance at federal, state, and local levels. American and Southwest Airlines have both announced they’ll continue to require vaccination for employees. (TX Tribune)
  • Dr. Fauci says halloween is a go this year! (NPR)
  • Brooklyn NBA star Kyrie Irving will not practice or play with the team until he complies with NY’s vaccine requirement, the team announced. (ESPN)
  • The White House is urging governors to prepare to vaccinate kids 5 and up, anticipating FDA approval coming soon. (NBC)
  • COVID cases in kids remain “exceptionally high,” even as national case counts start to decline overall. (CNN)
  • FL Gov. DeSantis has made good on his threat to fine counties that impose vaccine mandates, charging one county with a $3.57 million fine. (USA Today)
  • One month into NYC’s vaccine mandate for guests of restaurants and certain other businesses, overall compliance appears to be excellent. There have been 31,000 inspections, 6,000 warnings and only 15 violations.  (Patch)

Today’s Health News:

  • The Hepatitis A outbreak associated with several Famous Anthony’s locations in Roanoke, VA  is now up to 37 cases with one death. Additional cases are under investigation and at least 12 lawsuits now filed. (WSET)
  • The Salmonella outbreak that appears to be on-going is now up to 592 cases, according to the CDC ‘s latest report and no source has been identified yet. (CDC)
  • Russia and Kazakhstan have reported more H5 avian flu outbreaks in poultry. (CIDRAP)

Best Questions:

When can we expect the OSHA ETS?

Earlier this week, OSHA and the Dept. of Labor sent a draft version of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to the Office of Management and Budget for review. We don’t know how long this will take - sometimes it can take months, but it’s clear that the federal government is expediting this process. Meetings between OMB and industry groups are currently taking place which shows the review process is well under way. We know it’s coming soon, and these are important first steps in kicking off the process. Once it’s released and goes into effect, we expect that there will be a period of time before it’s enforced, to give employers time to comply.

What can we do now to prepare for the OSHA ETS?

There are still a lot of unknowns about who will be covered, who will pay for testing, what type of test will be required, and more. But there are some things you can be doing now to prepare. You’ll definitely need to know which of your employees are vaccinated, and which aren’t. You’ll also need a plan for weekly testing of any unvaccinated employees, and tracking their testing results. ZHH and Zedic can help with both vaccination and weekly test tracking.  

Are people who have breakthrough infections just as likely to spread the virus as unvaccinated COVID+ people?

There’s definitely still the possibility of transmitting the virus while you’re COVID+, even if you’re vaccinated, so anyone who is COVID+ should self-isolate for at least 10 days, regardless of vaccine status. Up until this point, we’ve been operating on information from early studies that indicate that the level of transmission for vaccinated and unvaccinated people who are COVID+ is similar, but some new research suggests that the risk of transmission for fully vaccinated people may actually be lower. It turns out, in many cases we’ve all heard of with widespread breakthrough cases, there are unvaccinated people in the mix that might be the ones doing more of the transmission. While it’s still up for debate, many scientists and public health experts think that the risk of transmission is lower but definitely not zero for fully vaccinated and infected people. So, be sure to stay home when sick, even if you’re vaccinated, to stop the spread.

Best Read:

What the Future May Hold for the Coronavirus and Us

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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.