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  • COVID-19 Trends are Encouraging, but Be Aware of Upsets. TAG Risk Matrix

Key Points:

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss TAG’s COVID Risk Matrix and some encouraging trends. Read more here.
  • OSHA’s new COVID-19 protection guidance document – and what it means to your business. [Read more].
  • Some people may still test positive after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Why is that? This can be due to a few different reasons including:
    • There's a lag between vaccination and protection
    • Vaccination prevents most, but not all disease
    • Vaccination prevents disease, but infection, it's unclear
    • Vaccines do not work retroactively – if you’ve been ill before and didn’t know it, you may still test positive!
    • The variant question
  • Recent studies, reported by CIDRAP, are finding that the new COVID variants may create worry about vaccine resistance. “Overall, the [Pfizer] vaccine is likely to be effective against B117, though its efficacy is somewhat affected. Though they found wide variation among individuals, on average B117 required a twofold increase in serum antibody concentration to neutralize the virus. However, when researchers added the E484K mutation, substantially higher antibody levels—on average, a 10-fold increase—were needed for neutralization.”
  • Globally, 10 more countries reported B117 (UK Variant) cases, raising the total to 80 across all six of the WHO's regions. For B1351, 10 more countries have confirmed cases, putting that total at 41 across four WHO regions. And for P1, two more countries detected cases, raising the number to 10 across four of WHO's regions.
  • To address vaccine equity and distribution, the Biden administration plans to begin shipping 1 million COVID-19 vaccines weekly to pharmacies.

Recommendations for Industry

COVID-19 Trends are Encouraging – but Be Aware of Upsets

This week’s matrices continue to show an encouraging trend both across the U.S. and globally with fewer states in the high-risk categories. While test rates are staying high, case rates are coming down in most states, showing very good trends.

What could upset this trend? We see both the variants and group gatherings as areas to watch:

  • We have not been seeing a significant impact of the variants in the U.S. thus far, but need to continue to be aware of potential impact, as has been seen in the UK and other countries, and maintain all protective behaviors.

One of these is that of avoiding gatherings – which could be a factor this weekend as sports fans gather for Superbowl Sunday. TAG recommends that businesses remind employees of the risks of groups from different households, particularly indoors, as is most likely with a TV viewing; and be aware of potential COVID-19 symptoms of employees following the weekend.

TAG Matrices.

Based on TAG’s matrices since last week:

  • The Government Stringency Index is 47 this week. This is down from 48 last week.
  • Fifteen (15) states are in the Highest-Risk Quadrant (Outbreak Index > 50) (see Figure 1, Figure 2, and Table 1). This is down from 18 last week. States in the High and Highest-Risk Quadrants are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The Government Stringency Index remains at 48 this week.

  • Fourteen (14) states’ (Washington, Idaho, California, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine) businesses are in mixed opening stages. Two (2) states’ (Oregon and New Mexico) businesses are mostly closed.
  • Eighteen (18) states have a TPR ≥10% and a case rate ≥ 25/100K people (see Table 2). This is down from 22 states last week. This indicates that testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in the states. On the other hand, 10 states have a TPR < 10% and a case rate≥ 25/100K people indicates adequate testing that is likely finding most symptomatic cases of illnesses. This is down from 19 last week. Idaho and South Dakota are the only states with a TPR<10% and a case rate < 25/100K.

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