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COVID-19 Updates: Helping employers navigate workplace challenges

By Jeff Levin-Scherz, MD | December 20, 2021

Dr. Jeff Levin-Scherz shares weekly updates on the latest COVID-19 developments, the implications on employers and advice on how they can respond.
Health and Benefits
COVID 19 Coronavirus

As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, employers should continue to adapt their approach to ensure they effectively manage the impact on their employees and business. Dr. Jeff Levin-Scherz provides weekly updates on the latest COVID-19 developments, with a focus on the implications for employers and guidance on how they can tackle pandemic-related challenges to keep their workplaces safe.

  1. Amid spreading Omicron variant, employers in a quandary on vaccine mandates and surcharges

    December 20, 2021

    With no federal rule on vaccination and a likely surge in Omicron cases, some employers are again considering health insurance surcharges for unvaccinated employees.

  2. Will Omicron change employers’ return-to-office plans?

    December 14, 2021

    During this time of uncertainty, employers should remain flexible about returning remote workers to the office.

  3. Video: How can employers respond to the Omicron variant?

    December 14, 2021

    • An update on where we are in the pandemic (0:26)
    • What are your thoughts on vaccination? (1:35)
    • What is your recommendation around booster shots? (3:43)
    • What are your thoughts on employer policies with respect to boosters? (4:56)
    • When will we likely have more answers around Omicron? (6:23)
    • Will the new oral COVID-19 drugs be a game changer? (8:14)
    • Final thoughts and closing quote: Katherine Wu, Pigeon with A Mustache, The Atlantic (10:34)
    • "This not a pigeon turning into a tiger, this is a pigeon that has a mustache."

  4. Employers face uncertainty around mandates, Omicron variant and new ruling on at-home testing costs

    December 8, 2021

    COVID-19 cases are down, but we could see an increase after holiday gatherings.

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  5. November 2021

    COVID-19 antivirals on the horizon as Omicron variant causes concern

    November 30, 2021

    Though the risk Omicron poses is yet unknown, scientists fear it could cause a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

  6. Most public health measures to reduce COVID-19 should continue

    November 23, 2021

    With the current risk of COVID-19 infection higher than it was a month ago, layers of protection are as important now as they were in late summer when the Delta variant wave began.

  7. Strategies for safe business travel during COVID-19

    November 16, 2021

    As new cases and hospitalization rates in the U.S. hold steady, some companies are returning to business travel, attending conferences.

  8. Video: How employers can respond to the evolving COVID-19 vaccine landscape

    November 10, 2021

    • Where are we right now? (0:36)
    • How important is it for children to get vaccinated? (1:37)
    • What regulations can employers expect to see from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? (3:28)
    • What advice would you give pregnant women about vaccines? (5:14)
    • Who should get a vaccine booster? (7:41)
    • What are the benefits of vaccination for people who have previously been infected with COVID-19? (10:06)
    • What is the advice around mixing and matching vaccines? (12:00)
    • What advice would you give to employers in this era where there's a lot of discussion about vaccine boosters and mandates? (13:05)
    • What can we expect to see over the next few months? (14:36)

  9. What employers should know about new OSHA rule for vaccine mandates

    November 9, 2021

    As vaccinations for children continue, a new federal rule requires certain employers to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

  10. COVID-19 cases are falling as vaccination increases

    November 2, 2021

    A chain of COVID-19 transmission could break as vaccines are approved for children five to 11 years old.

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  11. October 2021

    COVID-19 case rates continue to decline, yet most of U.S. remains at high risk for the unvaccinated

    October 26, 2021

    CDC seems likely to approve vaccines for children ages five to 11 as a further measure to reduce community spread.

  12. Though controversial, vaccine mandates are effective

    October 20, 2021

    Amid declining cases nationwide, employers should continue to create plans to comply with the upcoming federal vaccine mandates and determine the logistics of testing, if applicable.

  13. Will we now see a sustained decline in COVID-19 or is this just another down cycle?

    October 11, 2021

    New cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 have fallen, but the U.S. might remain at a high plateau.

  14. Video: Helping employers address vaccination challenges

    October 14, 2021

    • Where do we stand in the pandemic right now? (0:24)
    • How would you advise people to interpret data we're seeing on hot spots and increases in COVID-19 cases in states with high vaccination rates? (2:03)
    • Can you talk about the business risks associated with unvaccinated employees? (4:25)
    • Can you share an update on vaccine mandates? (6:13)
    • Can you tell us about the new oral medication that can be used to treat COVID-19? (8:57)
    • Final thoughts and closing quote: Ed Yong, We're already barreling toward the next pandemic, Atlantic Magazine (14:44)
      “When a doctor saves a patient, that person is grateful. When an epidemiologist prevents someone from catching a virus, that person never knows.”

  15. 7 business risk associated with unvaccinated employees

    October 6, 2021

    As COVID-19 rates begin to decline and mandates increase, employers recognize that unvaccinated workers represent a business risk.

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  16. September 2021

    Pfizer booster approved for those age 65 and at high risk, including health care workers

    September 28, 2021

    As the CDC specified eligibility for the Pfizer booster, COVID-19 cases declined slightly overall, but pediatric cases are on the rise.

  17. Video: How can employers prepare for the federal vaccine mandate?

    September 24, 2021

    • What's the current state of COVID-19 in the U.S.? (0:18)
    • What do you think employers should do to prepare for the new federal mandate? (2:10)
    • Can you share your thoughts on the research findings from the randomized, controlled trial of mask use in Bangladesh? (4:44)
    • Can you provide an update on infection rates among school-aged children? (6:55)
    • What are your thoughts on vaccine booster shots? (8:59)
    • How will we know when the pandemic is over? (10:20)
    • Closing quote: Robert Wachter, Chair, UCSF Department of Medicine, A Big Delta Unknown, New York Times (11:49)
      "Risk is low enough to live life, high enough to be careful."

  18. Debate over vaccine mandates continue as employers await OSHA rule

    September 22, 2021

    As U.S. vaccination rates lag those of other developed countries, about one in five employers already have a vaccine mandate in place.

  19. 6 new developments in Biden administration's plan to fight COVID-19

    September 14, 2021

    Amid new administrative orders to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing, U.S. employers should develop action plans.

  20. Should employers require masks and vaccination?

    September 7, 2021

    As Delta cases continue to rise, our survey shows twice as many employers’ report vaccine mandates compared to May 2021.

  21. Employer interest in mandates rises as Pfizer vaccine receives FDA approval

    September 1, 2021

    Employers consider their response to FDA vaccine approval amid impressive safety data and hopeful expansion to children ages five to 11.

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  22. August 2021

    Video: Key advice on how employers can develop policies around vaccination

    August 30, 2021

    • Where do we stand now? An update on the current situation in the U.S. (0:50)
    • Are you worried about kids going back to school? (2:50)
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced guidance around a third booster shot. What are the implications, especially for employers? (5:37)
    • What are your thoughts about premium surcharges for people who are unvaccinated? (7:45)
    • Are vaccine mandates a good idea? (10:26)
    • What are your thoughts on the Lambda variant? (12:51)
    • Closing quote: Mark Levine, The Case for Masking Up Again Indoors in New York City, The New Yorker, July 24, 2021 (15:00)
      “People watch disaster movies about global pandemics, where at the end they discover the vaccine, and everyone hugs, and the credit rolls, but the real world is messier. Viruses evolve. People are complicated. And, unfortunately, public health is a collective struggle. And the continual evolution of the virus, and the challenge in bringing everyone in our society along, means this isn’t over yet.”
  23. Vaccination mandates gain steam as eligibility for third dose is approved

    August 24, 2021

    As employers consider adopting a vaccine mandate, they must also address whether to include a requirement to get a third booster.

  24. How the Delta variant is changing employers’ plans

    August 17, 2021

    Amid the surge of COVID-19 infections, many employers are delaying returning employees to the office.

  25. Government and employers take action as dangers of Delta variant come into focus

    August 3, 2021

    As new information about the Delta variant comes to light, authorities announce initiatives, incentives and mandates.

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Population Health Leader, Health and Benefits, North America

Jeff is a practicing physician and has led WTW’s clinical response to COVID-19. He has served in leadership roles in provider organizations and a health plan, and is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

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