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Despite Increasing Vaccination Rates, Testing Continues to be Important.

Key Points:

  • In Wednesday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss COVID Transmission Rates Increasing State by State. Read more here.
  • Do you want to know when different sectors of the food and agriculture world can be vaccinated? Food manufacturing versus food service versus food retail (grocery)? Check out the 50-state chart updated this past Monday March 23, 2021, here.
  • The CDC has published a new release to “Help Stop the Spread of Coronavirus and Protect Your Family”. The steps include:
    • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Washing your hands often with plain soap and water.
    • Covering your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
    • Avoiding crowds and practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet apart from others).
  • With increasing case counts, hospitalizations, and variant spread, the province of Ontario declared on Monday that it has entered a third way of the pandemic.
  • A recent comprehensive review in Nature of current literature on post-acute COVID-19 “discusses relevant considerations for the multidisciplinary care of COVID-19 survivors and propose a framework for the identification of those at high risk for post-acute COVID-19 and their coordinated management through dedicated COVID-19 clinic”. The study identified and characterized COVID-19 long-haulers, “a syndrome characterized by persistent symptoms and/or delayed or long-term complications beyond 4 weeks from the onset of symptoms”. CIDRAP also summarizes the findings in which, “long-haulers need dedicated clinics” like as is currently being developed in Italy.
  • Brazil’s COVID-19 is affecting nearby countries. 26 of the 27 country’s federal units have reached 85 – 90% of ICU bed occupancy, and other countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, and Uruguay are also seeing rises in cases. In Brazil, the P1 SARS-CoV-2 variant is prevalent. [CIDRAP / NPR]
  • Texas announced today that beginning next Monday, all adults in the state will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A recent study published in Science found that counties in Slovakia that implemented multiple rounds of population-wide rapid antigen tests, saw a decrease in prevalence of positive tests by more than 50% within one week. In that time, primary schools and workplaces were still open! “Modelling indicated that this decrease could not be explained solely by infection control measures but required the additional impact of isolation and quarantine of household members of those testing positive.”
  • In Monday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss CDC’s school guidance – and the caveats, and how TAG’s Key Points show continued cautions to be important. Read more here.
  • In last Friday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s Global Reflections on the current state of the pandemic, and a new study, and FDA warning letters, on the unreliability of large-area thermal scanners. Read more here.

Recommendations for Industry

Despite Increasing Vaccination Rates, Testing Continues to be Important.

U.S. COVID-19 testing rates are down, but the number of cases being detected are plateaued or even trending upward. This mode of looking less but finding more is not a good trend, indicating that the U.S. may be heading in the same direction as much of the rest of the world. For those looking to convey key COVID transmission messaging to leadership, such information can provide valuable reinforcement of the need to continue protections, as can data such as that from the World Health Organization:

  • Most regions of the globe are seeing an increase in new Covid-19 cases as highly contagious variants continue to spread.
  • New cases worldwide increased by 8% over the last week, the fifth week in a row that the WHO has seen an increase in transmission.
  • Cases in Europe, where the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant is rapidly spreading, increased by 12%.

Although nearly half the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, we need to ensure we are not lessening the importance testing. Not only can those who are vaccinated still get mild cases, there continue to be asymptomatic infected persons who can continue to spread the virus. Thus, TAG recommends that all businesses continue to follow testing protocols established earlier in the pandemic – requiring testing of those who have symptoms, were close contacts of an infected person, traveled to an area of high rates of infection, and/or have any other reason to suspect potential infection.

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