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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, July 16th

When should you consider reinstating mask mandates in your business?


  • The Delta variant is wreaking havoc in the US and across the world, with all 50 states seeing an increase in cases, and 19 states plus D.C. seeing cases more than doubled. (Guardian)
  • LA brought back its mask mandate, and Chicago has reinstated travel restrictions from some specific states who are experiencing surges. It's possible others will follow suit. (Reuters,
  • Hygiene theater may create a false sense of security and the additional workload is adding stress to already stressed teams. (Guardian)
  • Symptoms of the Delta variant are remarkably similar to a cold, adding new challenges for diagnosis and quarantine. (Deseret News)
  • Testing, rather than vaccination, are at the center of Olympics COVID strategy, raising questions about the games’ risk of becoming a worldwide superspreader event. (Axios)
  • A COVID outbreak among vaccinated hospital workers in Nevada underscores the risks of the Delta variant. (Guardian)
  • The largest nurses’ union in the US is calling for bringing back universal masking. (The Hill)
  • Tennessee will stop all vaccination outreach aimed at teens - and not just for COVID - amid political pressure from Republican state lawmakers. (Tennessean)
  • After many colleges and universities chose to mandate vaccination, they’re getting heavy pushback and facing logistical challenges around enforcement in preparation for the fall semester. (NBC)
  • Scientists and doctors are pushing for development of an antiretroviral, like Tamiflu for the flu, that can stop the progression of illness when someone gets sick with COVID. (LA Times)

Today’s Health News

  • A huge sunscreen recall including Neutrogena and Aveeno was announced after J&J found benzene, a carcinogen, in testing. (NPR)
  • There are two pandemics in the U.S. Drug overdoses rose by over 30% in 2020 from the previous year, to a shocking 93,000 deaths. (Washington Post)
  • The FDA’s acting commissioner admitted that they may have had missteps with the approval of a new controversial Alzheimer’s drug, leading to mistrust of the organization at a time when confidence in their processes is key for COVID vaccination. (STAT)
  • Expect to see an increase in childhood illness after the pandemic disrupted routine childhood vaccinations in more than 17 million children worldwide. (The Lancet) 
  • The Ohio Department of Health is warning about the continued spread of Hepatitis A across the state. (ODH)
  • The FDA has confirmed there is a new E.coli outbreak investigation with 15 confirmed cases in 11 states but the CDC has not yet issued an outbreak alert and no potential source has been identified.  (FDA)

Best Questions

Should we go back to requiring masks if we have 3 or more COVID+ cases at a location?

Unfortunately, we’re seeing lots of outbreaks fueled by the Delta variant and a reduction in COVID protocols. Fully vaccinated people are still very effectively protected, but the main issue lies in differentiating between fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Many of our clients rely on the honor system for mask usage, or have managers who aren’t consistently enforcing masks for unvaccinated employees. Because of the increased risk of an unvaccinated person working without a mask, and the fact that a mask reduces individual risk by up 75%, we highly recommend requiring masks for 14 days if you have 3 or more COVID+ cases at a single location.

How important is it to get your Dose 2 on the exact date they schedule it? Does a day or two later matter?

As much as possible, you should try to get your Dose 2 on the exact date they schedule (either 21 or 28 days later, depending on the brand), but that’s primarily because that’s what’s been studied and what they can say, with confidence, works very well. If you can’t make it, the CDC and FDA say that it’s okay to push your date back a few days - but you shouldn’t get your second dose early. Studies show that it’s okay to get Dose 2 up to six weeks after the first dose. And if you are one of the 15 million Americans who got Dose 1 but haven’t gotten Dose 2 yet for whatever reason - doctors say you can still go and get that second dose even if it’s later than 6 weeks after your first dose. 

Should we trust at-home COVID tests the same way we trust tests at pharmacies and clinics? 

At-home COVID tests are tricky because there is generally no chain-of-custody to prove that the sample actually belongs to the employee in question. It could just as easily be a swab from someone else in their household, and you have to trust your employee on the honors system when they say the test belongs to them. At-home tests are rapid, which means that their positive results tend to be highly reliable, whereas negative tests are much less reliable, especially if someone doesn’t have any symptoms. If someone has a positive at-home COVID test, we recommend following up with a PCR test as well, and still recommend that they self-isolate and you begin any contact tracing just the same way you would if they tested positive at a clinic or pharmacy. 

If a fully vaccinated employee is exposed and then develops symptoms, do they still need to be excluded? 

Anyone with symptoms should be excluded from work starting from their symptom start date, even if they are fully vaccinated. If anyone develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID - even if they’re fully vaccinated - they should stay home and self-isolate starting from the date they first felt sick.

What are the symptoms of the COVID-19 Delta variant?

Unfortunately, there’s more and more evidence that the symptoms associated with the Delta variant are very similar to those of a common cold. Runny noses and sore throats are more common with the Delta variant, and some doctors say they’re seeing less of the telltale signs like loss of taste and smell. So even if someone’s symptoms are mild, many doctors are recommending getting tested and staying home if they have any new or changed symptoms - even if they don’t seem very bad. 

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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.