Where is COVID-19 Heading Now?

Public Health & Food Safety

  • The most recent IFT podcast discusses the current state of African Swine Fever which has been “spreading across the globe, killing millions of pigs.” It is considered a viable threat to the pork industry. This podcast discusses what the U.S. can do to protect its “hog population and how the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the problem.”
  • A recent assessment and study of ochratoxin A in coffee has found that there is “no evidence […] identified from historical data to suggest OTA is acutely toxic in humans from coffee consumption or other exposure sources. Therefore, findings from this assessment indicate that no PC [preventive control] is warranted for US coffee manufactures, based on the low severity and likelihood of risk according to margin-of-exposure estimates and historical data.” Read the assessment and study here.

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Recommendations for Industry

Where is COVID-19 Heading Now?

In analyzing TAG’s ongoing COVID-19 matrix assessments along with other sites that have been tracking the trajectory of case counts (including Covid Act Now and Worldometers), it appears that, if we continue at the current rate of decline, the U.S. will be down to pre-Delta peak levels in about six weeks – the end of November.

The most recent TAG matrix indicates overall falling numbers with some major exceptions in a few states where the case counts remain high, including Minnesota, Michigan, and Montana (along with Pennsylvania and Vermont according to Johns Hopkins data). But there does not appear to be any emerging new variants of concern in other parts of the world that would signal that a new wave of COVID-19 will hit the US in the near future.

Thus, the release of the OSHA standards for compliance with the vaccine/testing mandate for businesses (with more than 100 employees), which is expected to publish soon, is likely to coincide with very low cases of COVID-19 in the US. Even without decreasing numbers, compliance is likely to lead to disruption and economic consequences; but with the decrease, is it now becoming more of an exercise in regulatory compliance than public health?

On the plus side, we do see definite tangential benefits and value in the increased access to rapid tests, particularly with the current labor shortages with which businesses are contending. A rapid test providing a negative COVID result can enable employees to return to work much more quickly and continue working with general protections if symptoms turn out to be cold, sinus, etc.  And even with positive tests, we are seeing some significant promise in new and effective therapies such as monoclonal antibody or antiviral drugs.

This analysis and discussion also bring up a point that TAG has previously raised, that – following this fourth wave of COVID-19 in the US – we’re likely entering the endemic-phase of the pandemic and consider managing it that way – like influenza. That is, can we manage it through the combination of vaccinations for those that want it, avoidance of spread to the greatest extent possible through personal and workplace protections, and the use of antiviral drugs as needed.

COVID-19 management continues to be a challenge for businesses, but you don’t have to go it alone. Give TAG a call for assistance.

Risk Matrix:

Overall, things are looking up. Between last week and this week, 45 states have seen a decrease in cases while 5 states (Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) have seen an increase in cases.

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In Case You Missed It

Flu Status

  • CDC: 1.9% of patient visits reported through ILINet were due to influenza. The percentage of patient visits for ILI remains below the baseline of 2.6% nationally. All ten regions are below their region-specific baselines.
  • WHO: “Globally, despite continued or even increased testing for influenza in some countries, influenza activity remained at lower levels than expected for this time of the year. Worldwide, influenza A and B viruses were detected in similar proportions.”