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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, May 7th

COVID masks for singers, increased norovirus and can we end temperature checks?

Today's Recap

  • Many key executives in the food and beverage industry believe another pandemic is coming sooner rather than later, and a whopping 45% of them feel unprepared for it, according to a recent survey of 325 senior-level North American executives. (QSR)
  • Proper mask use among vaccinated and unvaccinated people is declining following the CDC’s easing of mask rules. (Axios)
  • Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are seeking full authorization (not Emergency Use) for its COVID vaccine. This is a big deal on many levels - particularly in addressing concerns of some who are vaccine hesitant or waiting to get vaccinated. (Politico).  
  • While there’s good news about Moderna and Pfizer being safe and effective in kids aged 12+, there’s a lot of parental hesitation about vaccinating their children. Less than a third of parents surveyed would get their child vaccinated right when they’re eligible. (CNN)
  • Fear of mandated vaccination is driving some people to move to other states. (WISTV
  • Disney World announced that they’re ending temperature checks for employees and guests. (SunCoast)
  • Target is giving a $5 store coupon to anyone who gets vaccinated at one of the 1,700 CVS locations that are inside Target stores. (Supermarket News
  • Dermatologists are reporting some skin reactions to COVID vaccines. Some are allergies but others are later vaccine reactions. (Medpage Today)
  • One Japanese town spent its COVID relief money on a giant squid statue to boost tourism. (Guardian)
  • The San Francisco Opera is working closely with medical researchers to develop a mask specifically designed for singing. The larger droplets produced by singing were linked to two deaths of choir members in Washington state. (NPR)
  • Soon, we might not need a flu shot every year! Flu vaccine is taking a huge leap forward with some of the nano-technologies advanced for COVID vaccines.  (NIAID)
  • Anti-vaxxers burned a giant syringe in protest of COVID and other vaccinations in Utah this week. The event was attended by hundreds of families and televised.  (KJZZ
  • As one virus surge slows down, another one is ramping up. There are reports of Norovirus nationally, with Houston and Nebraska appearing as particular hot spots. (Miami Herald
  • Athletes are preparing to leave for the Olympics and Tokyo is all dressed up and ready. Now, there are renewed calls to cancel as Tokyo COVID rates rise and vaccination rates remain low. (Bloomberg)

Best Questions

Do plexiglass dividers actually work and will we be able to phase them out any time soon? 

Some experts are saying that plexiglass between booths or workstations block large particles that come from talking loudly or coughing. Others say that if they don’t go to the ceiling (which they technically shouldn’t because there would be less airflow for that table or work station), then they are primarily to make people feel more comfortable. One way to test their effectiveness is with a can of smoke (like those used to test smoke detectors) or a cigarette. If the smoke rises above the plexiglass, it’s more for show than for providing real protection. Many jurisdictions require physical barriers when people are unable to social distance (at tables that are closer than 6ft apart), so we expect that you’ll need them for some time. 

The business next door is closed because of COVID. Is there anything I should be doing differently?

Stick to everything you’re hopefully already doing! That includes daily employee wellness checks, handwashing, sanitizing regularly, not letting anyone work sick and excluding sick employees or those who have had close contact for the appropriate length of time. It’s a good time to do an internal audit to make sure that everyone is filling out a daily employee wellness check before each shift, and to ensure they’re really taking their time with it and reporting if any roommates or family members are sick. Other than that, the things you’re already doing every day to prevent the spread of COVID are the best defense against outbreaks in your area. 

Do we need to continue daily temperature checks for staff?

We now know that there was never really a valid clinical reason to do temperature checks.  After taking millions of daily employee temp checks for more than a year, our clients haven’t found more than a few COVID cases as a result. While many people do have a fever with COVID, it’s not often the first symptom. And as it gets warmer, we’re getting back into some of the seasonal issues we saw last spring and summer like elevated skin temperature as folks are waiting in line outside.

The bigger question is: does it make your employees feel more comfortable? One client did a survey of their workforce last week and found that employees felt safer when they were doing temp checks, so they’ve opted to keep them in place. It may be the employee health version of theatrical cleaning.  

And besides, some towns and states still require them, but we expect to see many of those requirements relaxed. Clinically, we’re comfortable with ditching temp checks for guests and employees, but whether to actually do it will depend on how your employees feel and if your area allows it. 

Anything special we should be doing to protect ourselves with Noro spreading nationally?

Many of the precautions you currently have in place for COVID control the spread of Norovirus, too. But be sure no one is working sick, that someone with Noro-like symptoms doesn’t work until they’re symptom-free for at least 48 hours, that anyone they live with or have intimate contact with remains out of work for at least three days, and that the product you’re using to sanitize for COVID is also approved for Noro. Noro can spread so quickly through a workplace because it takes such a small amount of the virus (so small it barely fits on a pin’s head) to infect a lot of people.

Best Read

Health Advocate or Big Brother? Companies Weigh Requiring Vaccines.

Best Watch

VIDEO: Why Some Coronavirus Variants Are Better At Infecting Humans : Goats and Soda

Best Laugh

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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.