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Employee Wellness: Summer’s End Brings New COVID Questions and Stressors.

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the newly surging COVID questions and stressors of employees and the impact on your business. Read more below.
  • We’ve received many questions about the different Variants of Concern that are being discussed in the news; last Thursday, we discussed this and you can read more here.
  • The FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to all those 16 years and older. Read the official FDA release here.
  • A study from University of Georgia/Athens researchers found that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 spread among COVID-19 patients to their close contacts was strongest in the 2 days before and 3 days after symptom onset and when index patients were mildly or moderately ill rather than asymptomatic, according to a US studyof Chinese patients today in JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers wrote, “Infected contacts of asymptomatic index patients were less likely to present with COVID-19 symptoms, suggesting that quantity of exposure may be associated with clinical presentation in close contacts.”
  • The Atlantic brings a perspective of what the next steps are for the pandemic to end. Similar to what we at TAG have discussed before, it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 will ever be stamped out of existence; instead, the virus that causes COVID-19 will likely become endemic in our society in which outbreaks will become “rarer and smaller.” It’ll be in our population, similar to how the common cold is in our population. Additionally, the main way for the pandemic to end, especially now, is a mix of preventive measures (including mask wearing) and vaccinations.
  • Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH at Brown University’s School of Public Health provides Twitter break down on the importance of keeping an eye on South Dakota’s current cases and potential rise of cases when much of the population achieved immunity through natural means (infection) as opposed to vaccination.
  • As the world is in the throes of another COVID-19 wave, new information released found that Abbott destroyed much of their COVID-19 rapid test (15-minute antigen test, BinaxNOW) The destruction of these tests has led to a current shortage of available tests.
  • In some good news, a Super-Taster in Italy who had lost his sense of smell (and thereby taste) to COVID-19 (as a symptom) is slowly retraining himself and others on how to become more resilient and deal with the lingering effects of COVID-19.
  • In recent times, 70% of calls to Mississippi State Department of Health’s poison control center has been related to people ingesting ivermectin (a livestock parasitic drug for cows and horses). Mississippi is pleading with people to stop using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Ingestion of the drug can lead to symptoms including nausea to neurological disorders and even severe hepatitis!

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Recommendations for Industry

Employee Wellness: Summer’s End Brings New COVID Questions and Stressors.

In March, we were looking at the increased availability of vaccines as a turning point and were beginning to discuss the safe draw down of COVID protections. By early summer, U.S. cases had, in fact, reached their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. Hope rose that we were seeing a light at the end of the COVID tunnel.

Fast forward to August, however, and we’ve learned that while vaccines have certainly had a positive impact on reducing illness, they have not been a silver bullet – particularly with the continuing persistence of the Delta variant. As discussed in an article in The Atlantic (also cited in the fifth Key Point above), not only was the transmissibility of Delta underestimated, so was the impact of it. Having prompted a return to protections that were being set aside, it has raised a new surge of questions, stressors, and anxiety.

Employees are asking: I am vaccinated, why do I need a mask? Just how effective is the vaccine anyway? Is one better than another – and can I request one over another when I set an appointment? I am against vaccines – so what do I do if my employer mandates it? Can we ever actually reach “herd immunity” if the virus keeps changing? What happens when kids go back to school?

In one way, we are back where we were before vaccines; with a big difference in the questions now being asked and the stress and anxiety being faced.

So, what does it all mean to your business? Primarily it is about recognizing that your employees are facing new stress. They have questions – many of which don’t yet have solid answers. The stressors have changed, but they are continuing, and employee wellness is as much about mental and emotional health as physical health.

Although TAG, like anyone else, cannot unerringly predict the future, we can help with your employee communications and wellness. Give us a call to discuss our employee wellness programs, Town Hall options, and other COVID and workplace infectious disease assistance.

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