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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, May 28th

Half of U.S. adults are vaxxed, a harder flu season and more vaccines after latest CDC guidance?

Today's Recap

  • Half of U.S. adults are officially fully vaccinated. (NPR)
  • Studies suggest that COVID immunity lasts at least a year and grows over time. (New York Times)
  • Could the reduction in COVID cases mean a harder flu and cold season? Since cases of both were so low last year, experts are warning that our immune response to them might not be as strong next time around. (STAT)
  • The CDC’s latest guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to ditch the mask was, in part, a way to incentivize more to get their COVID shots. And though it’s helping, it appears that most people are getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others from the virus. (TIME
  • The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for an additional monoclonal antibody therapy for treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID. (FDA)
  • Moderna is looking to expand the use of their COVID vaccine after saying it was 100% effective in teens 12 to 17. They’ll likely seek approval from the FDA next month. (CNBC)
  • Vaccine hesitancy dropped especially among Hispanic and Black survey participants from October 2020 to March 2021. (JAMA)
  • Colorado is joining Ohio, Maryland and New York in offering $5 million in cash prizes to newly vaccinated individuals. (Denver Post)
  • And New York is offering teens a chance at winning a full scholarship to the state’s public universities if they choose to get vaccinated. (ABC 7)
  • Despite the disagreement over whether to use vaccine passports, digital vaccination certificates are being tested to help kickstart international travel. (USA Today)
  • New York employers are now required to pay sick time for vaccination side effects. (LoHud
  • Trey Anastasio from the band Phish will play the first full occupancy concert in New York with a catch.  Tickets are only available to the fully vaccinated!  (NME)

Best Questions

Are your other clients asking job applicants or new hires about vaccination status?

According to SHRM, “more employers are asking job applicants about their COVID-19 vaccination status with the goal of protecting co-workers and customers.” But before you add this to your list of interview questions or new hire checklists, your counsel should weigh in. There are legal limits to what you can ask and ADA considerations can come into play quickly. 

Will there ever be a time when confidence in test results is high enough to accept a negative COVID test from a person who is symptomatic?

We hope so! There are many testing advances due as early as fall, but confidently accepting a negative test result will depend on case counts and how much COVID is circulating in your area, as well as the specific symptoms the person is experiencing. If someone has a new loss of taste or smell, cough and high fever, that’s likely going to be a full 10-day exclusion for the foreseeable future. But if someone has just a new sore throat, headache and runny nose, that’s the kind of thing where a negative COVID test might help get them back to work sooner if case counts aren’t very high in the area. COVID testing will likely never catch 100% of true positives - even highly accurate tests like a strep throat culture miss about 5% of positive cases - so there will always be some consideration of symptoms, community spread and possible alternative diagnoses.

Will the CDC reduce the 10-day exclusion for symptoms?

We’ve heard some rumors that the CDC might reduce the 10-day exclusion to a 7-day exclusion for those who are COVID+ in an attempt to get better compliance with self-isolation. That said, it’s just a rumor and we haven’t heard anything more from the CDC about that in recent days. 

At some point, they might also reduce the 10-day exclusion for those who’ve tested negative for COVID-19. If cases across the country drop so low that it’s more likely that a symptom is a sign of another illness rather than COVID, we might see them reduce the 10-day exclusion with a negative test.

Are you seeing better vaccination rates based on changes in mask guidance?

We are seeing slightly better vaccination rates, but it looks like it’s not due to the changes in mask guidance. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that the vast majority of people who haven’t been vaccinated say “the new CDC guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing in most situations does not make a difference in their own decision about whether to get vaccinated.” While it might help a little, other more promising measures include paid time off from companies, free rides from ride sharing apps, and cash or gift incentives like sporting event tickets, gift cards, or lottery entries.

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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.