The Great RTO/WFH War Means COVID Is Really Over This Fall

Latest loosened COVID guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the advent of the Omicron booster have made it extremely clear: Employers who want workers back in the office can love ask and will do.

Social distancing is is no longer recommended—Nor is in quarantine if you have been in close contact with someone who has the sometimes deadly virus. The recommended quarantine period has been reduced to five days — a time at which many people are still spreading the virus, according to the researchers. The protection from the Omicron boosters appears to serve as a further perk allowing employers to force workers back. The enhancers are expected to provide good protection against severe illness and death from circulating dominant strains BA.4, BA.5 and their offspring. One point that’s often overlooked: They’re not expected to protect against infection and aren’t known to prevent long-term COVID (although they may reduce your chances of getting it).

If it wasn’t clear before, it’s now: Working from home is no longer a real right for those who qualify, but a privilege.

In the workplace, at least, COVID seems to be this fall.

Most workers do not believe that RTO is safe

Even before the August revision to the CDC’s COVID guidance and the September deployment of the Omicron boosters, remote eligible jobs were down, according to a summer report from Coresignala business that aggregates data for investment information, lead generation, and trend forecasting, among other purposes.

US telecommuting peaked in the summer of 2021, when the Delta variant became dominant in the US, upsetting many businesses’ plans to return to the office. The share of jobs available for remote work increased by nearly 67% from June to August last year, which reportedly examined more than 40 million public job postings between August 2020 and March. this year.

However, remote jobs, as a share of total employment, are on a downward trend this year. Research shows that, as of February, only 10% to 15% of employment services allowed remote work. Return-to-work mandates and incorporation policies are on the rise, though some workers are still defying them. As of this summer, less than half of the workers their employers expect them to return to the office five days a week.

But most of those workers aren’t sheltering at home because they’re worried about COVID, according to a report Pew Research Center Report February. They say they prefer working from home – and some say they’ve moved out of the office altogether.

People who work from home sometimes tell Pew that doing so allows them to better balance their work and personal lives, and it makes getting work done and meeting deadlines a breeze. easier, not harder. And nearly 75% say they don’t feel the move has affected their ability to work their way up the ladder.

Plus, pajamas.

Of those who work from home all or most of the time, only one in five say they would be comfortable returning to the office if they were forced to, and only one third said they would be comfortable. little bit. This may be because most employees who only work from home are not completely satisfied with the coronavirus precautions put in place by their employers, according to Pew.

An ending produced

That’s the conclusion we’ve all been looking for: an end to the nearly three-year scourge known as COVID, which has caused nearly 1 billion cases and more than 1 million deaths in the US alone.

But there wasn’t much – or any partying on the street to be witnessed – certainly not among the workers. According to Pew, more than 60% of people are working outside and have the choice not to go to the office.

To be fair, it’s hard to celebrate a manufactured ending.

The pandemic is far from over – even if, as the presidential physician Dr Anthony Fauci declared earlier this year, its “acute phase” is. While cases appear to remain at a persistently endemic level in the US, more than 70,000 cases are being diagnosed every day – and this while testing is being reported to public health authorities. at an all-time low. The death toll has remained at 310 people a day, a number that society has either dropped for months and years, or cannot afford to ignore.

COVID levels in wastewater – perhaps the best information we currently have on the spread of this disease in a community – has recently been at all-time highs in many locations in the United States, based on on test data.

And we’re still uncertain about what’s to come.

The White House this spring warned that the United States could see 100 million COVID-19 infections this fall and winter, and potentially a massive wave of deaths.

It is currently unknown what could be driving this wave, as the current rise of BA.4 and BA.5 and spawns appear to be leveling off. Possible candidates include Omicron spinoffs BA.4.6 and BA.2.75, Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a virologist and professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said on Thursday.

Both variants can partially evade vaccine immunity but “need to be recognized” by the new booster. However, more variations are expected this fall.

Pekosz is expected to increase “moderately” in the fall/winter. When asked about the CDC’s projections, a spokesperson this week said Luck that “most scenarios indicate that hospitalization rates for COVID-19 infection will be similar to current rates or decline slowly over the next few weeks,” although of course, the degree of uncertainty is high.

As of press time, a White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for an update on the fall/winter COVID forecast.

Vaccination bubble burst

The annual COVID vaccine, like the annual flu vaccine, will maybe a thing of the near future, White House officials include Fauci and Tsar COVID, Dr Ashish announced this week. This announcement further strengthens the case that the pandemic is (sort of) coming to an end, or at least reaching a more manageable point.

While it is hoped that the vaccine will have enough variants this fall and possibly even a year as long, some experts have warned that the duo’s expectations are unrealistic – if only because Vaccine immunity currently only lasts four to six months.

Dr Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said: “I don’t see any evidence that an annual COVID shot will provide lasting protection… without a better vaccine. week in a tweet.

“Gives the wrong impression of year-round protection ([against] severe illness and death) with the data in hand is unacceptable,” he later added.

Dr. Lee Altenberg, a theoretical biologist and professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, has shown that even the flu vaccine does not provide year-long protection. Articles in 2019 are from Clinical infectious disease That said, the flu shot’s protection only lasts up to 90 to 160 days.

Such periods of protection can generally work for seasonal viruses such as influenza. But COVID is not seasonal, Altenberg and other experts say, with the increase mainly due to new variations.

“This ‘annual COVID shot’ takes on more urgency — a casual denial of the reality of the pandemic — an attempt to pretend it’s like the flu — to shock people. [that] it’s the flu,” Altenberg tweeted.

Welcome back?

Aside from China, most countries have switched to a “learn to live” approach to the virus and, therefore, let it spread freely. The need for workers to return to the office is a natural extension of this approach in the workplace.

But employers can be careful about what they want.

Vaccinations do not prevent the spread of COVID – and while they may help reduce the risk of prolonged COVID, the jury is still out.

Up to one-fifth of American adults who have experienced COVID-19 are living with persistent COVID, the Home Choice Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said this summer. It is a condition defined by symptoms that persist or appear long after the initial COVID infection clears. An estimated 1 million Americans have been forced out of the workforce because of medical complications from the neonatal condition.

Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, a physicist from the University of Texas Health Science Center, testifies: “I have treated many nurses and doctors — some of whom have been unable to return to the operating room, the front line. or hospital bed. before the committee this summer.

“Marathon runners can’t even walk a mile. A young mother can’t run after her children, her heart rate goes up to 180 and it’s hard to breathe.”

Abroad, labor force participation in the UK has fallen by around 1.3% for the 16- to 64-year-old population, a Bank of England representative said this summer. Similar trends are being seen in the US and abroad.

Employers can learn to live with the virus at the office – but the lingering impact of COVID on the workforce could come back to haunt them.

Fall this year and forever, one thing is for sure. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, COVID is not going anywhere.

“Virus… can never be eliminated, can never be eliminated,” he recently said Luck.

But, welcome back.

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