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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, April 30th

OR bans indoor dining, NY allows bar seating and can we relax COVID restrictions for fully vaccinated employees?

ZHH Updates

You’re invited to a ZHH webinar: Relaxing COVID Restrictions

As more Americans get their COVID-19 vaccines, many businesses are considering when and how they can safely reopen as restrictions are being lifted. Our panel of industry experts, including ZHH and Zedic CEO, Roslyn Stone, Kerry Bridges, VP of Food Safety at Chipotle, and Michael Halen, Senior Restaurant Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, will discuss how you can navigate risk at our webinar on May 5!  

When: Wed., May 5 at 3 p.m. ET

Register Here

Today's Recap

  • Starting today, 15 Oregon counties, including parts of Portland, are prohibiting indoor dining as part of their “extreme risk” COVID-19 restrictions. (Oregon.gov)
  • But across the country, New York City will allow bar seating for the first time in more than a year. (Eater)
  • Meanwhile, case counts and hospitalizations are rising in Colorado, spiking among unvaccinated populations, including children. (9News)
  • Pfizer’s experimental at-home pill to treat COVID-19 could be available in the U.S. by the end of the year, the company’s CEO said. (CNBC)
  • Real world data shows fewer vaccine side effects than expected. Sore arm, headache and fatigue are the most common COVID vaccine side effects reported by adults 55+. (CIDRAP, AARP)
  • Researchers are trying to develop blood sample tests to more quickly determine if COVID vaccines will work against new variants and for how long. (NPR)
  • Google is adding COVID information to travel searches to help people find out if quarantine or proof of vaccination is required at their destination when planning their post-vaccination vacations. (The Verge)
  • BioNTech expects results of clinical trials on COVID vaccines for babies by September. (Reuters)
  • New data from England shows that vaccines cut household transmission of COVID-19 in half. (Medscape)
  • Good news on the vaccine front: it appears that the J&J pause didn’t scare many Americans, who are still choosing it for it’s one-and-done convenience. (WaPo)
  • A variety of ice creams made by Velvet Ice Cream have been recalled due to possible listeria contamination after they were distributed to a number of stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. (FDA)
  • Norovirus clusters are resistant to environmental stresses and UV disinfection, new study finds. (National Science Foundation)

Best Questions

Can we relax any COVID restrictions for fully vaccinated employees?

The CDC still recommends masks and social distancing for any public indoor setting or crowded outdoor setting. And when multiple households combine, which is likely the case in ANY employment setting, it’s still recommended that everyone is socially distanced and masked, including those who are fully vaccinated. Keep in mind that being fully vaccinated means that employees will not be excluded from work for close contact with anyone sick with COVID, which is a huge plus that will let so many employees keep working. Eventually, we may get additional guidance allowing more relaxed restrictions for employees who are fully vaccinated, but for now, because of the various households involved in most workplaces, it’s best to keep masking, staying 6ft apart as much as possible, and continuing the same high-quality hand washing you’ve been doing throughout the pandemic. 

An employee is required to be vaccinated for their university. Does that mean I can assume they’re fully vaccinated? 

Unfortunately, no. While many universities are requiring vaccination for students, there are plenty of exceptions for medical, religious and even political reasons. It’s not safe to assume that an employee is fully vaccinated just because they’re also a student at a university requiring COVID vaccination. Your company should think about if and how you’ll collect vaccination records, and do that separately from any affiliated organizations like universities. 

With the recent CDC announcement that vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks while dining outside, is there any guidance on how to handle guests? Should we ask for proof of vaccination?

This is a complex question. We can help with the clinical side and share what others in the industry are up to, but you’ll definitely need to consult your legal team here, too. Given the political situation around proof of vaccination, we can’t imagine a world where businesses ask for proof of vaccination for anyone unmasked outdoors. More likely, we expect most to find a middle ground, like increasing signage asking patrons to mask up when servers are near, regardless of vaccination status. Still, it’s not an easy task, and it underscores the importance of making sure your staff is vaccinated and masked up. The latest studies show that vaccinated people are up to 95% less likely to catch COVID at all. Masks reduce a person’s individual risk by 65%. Encouraging your team to get the vaccine and to wear masks properly (covering their nose and mouth) while they’re at work are the most effective ways to protect them. 

How can we respond to rumors our employees are hearing about vaccines and reproductive health?

There are (false) theories going around on social media right now about the vaccine and people’s reproductive health, even some claiming that being around someone who’s vaccinated can affect you. They are not true. Here are some basic facts you can share:

  • There is no way that being around a vaccinated person can be harmful to a person’s reproductive system. Vaccinated people do not “shed” vaccine, spike proteins or the coronavirus - that’s just not how vaccines work - so they can’t be passed to someone else. 
  • Vaccines might cause very short, harmless one-time changes to a person’s period right after they get the vaccine. There are other rumors that a vaccinated person can change other people’s menstrual cycles. Again, not true. There’s some anecdotal evidence that some women get a heavier or more painful period after getting the vaccine, but it is a safe, normal part of the body’s immune response, and it’s a one-time thing. It appears to be very, very rare if it’s related at all - less than 50 people out of millions reported these side effects.
  • There’s NO evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has any impact on fertility or your ability to get pregnant. In fact, dozens of women got pregnant over the course of the clinical trial and none who received the actual vaccine had any issues with their pregnancies. 
  • There’s lots of  evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women. Nearly 30,000 pregnant women have gotten vaccinated and, out of nearly 2,000 pregnant women enrolled in the CDC pregnancy safety reporting system, there are no patterns that show any difference in pregnancy outcomes or issues for those who are vaccinated.  

  • Actually getting sick with COVID-19 is MUCH more dangerous than any risk from the vaccine – especially for pregnant people. Pregnant people are at greater risk for getting seriously sick or dying from COVID and for early birth, among some other adverse pregnancy outcomes that occur in those who are sick with COVID.

Best Read

Vaccine Skepticism Was Viewed as a Knowledge Problem. It's Actually About Gut Beliefs.

Best Laugh

We love our friends at the CDC and their support bolstering our ability to respond to your COVID-19 needs has been tremendous. But the confusion from this week’s new mask guidance has sent all of us over the edge.

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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.