Repeat COVID Becomes Deadlier with Each Infection

Repeat COVID Becomes Deadlier with Each Infection

A study published in the November 10th, 2022 issue of Nature Medicine, discovered that becoming reinfected with COVID-19 doubles your risk of death from related health issues, and triples your risk for hospitalization. Moreover, the researchers stated the risks and burdens associated with reinfection remained, even after accounting for differences in COVID-19 variants such as Delta, Omicron, and BA.5. They found a person is more likely to experience issues with their lungs, heart, brain, blood, muscles, and digestive system following a second or third bout with Covid-19. 

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis conducted a large retrospective cohort study that involved data given to them by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In all, the data pool consisted of 443,588 patients with a single SARS-CoV-2 infection, 40,947 with two or more infections, and 5.3 million noninfected individuals. 

“Reinfection with COVID-19 increases the risk of both acute outcomes and long COVID,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “This was evident in unvaccinated, vaccinated and boosted people.” U.S. News and World Report, 11/10/22

Study participants with repeat infections were over three times more likely to develop lung problems, three times more likely to suffer heart conditions, and 60% more likely to experience neurological disorders than patients who had been infected once. Researchers reported higher risks were most evident the first month following reinfection and still a factor six months later.

The good news is periodic testing at weekly or bi-weekly intervals can help you anticipate outbreaks in your facility and stop or slow the spread. As soon as infections are apparent, the infected individuals can be quarantined and those who begin to fall seriously ill can receive immediate medical attention.

Learn more about our Weekly COVID Testing Program and how you can better protect your facility from devastating outbreaks

COVID vs. Flu: When to Test for Both 

COVID vs. Flu: When to Test for Both 

The Symptoms of COVID and Influenza are very similar. Which should you test for?  

Three years ago, if a patient was complaining of body aches, cough, headache, chills, or diarrhea, you would have bet your bottom thermometer that it was the flu. However, when SARS-CoV-2 (COVID) hit the US in January of 2020, the diagnosis became more challenging due to the flu and COVID sharing extremely similar symptoms. Compared to the flu, COVID can cause more serious illnesses in some patients. COVID usually takes longer before symptoms appear, and with COVID people can remain contagious for longer periods of time. Here is a quick look at some of the similarities and differences in COVID and flu symptoms. 

Onset and duration of symptoms – Markers associated with Omicron are runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and sore throat.Typically it takes longer for COVID symptoms to appear (2 to 14 days) than it does for the flu (1 to 4 days). Symptoms of the flu usually appear as severe and very sudden whereas COVID symptoms tend to begin mildly and become progressively worse. Also, while symptoms of the flu often resolve after 4-5 days, symptoms of COVID can last for up to 3 months, particularly with Omicron. 

Cough – Prevalent to both COVID and the flu. However, a flu-related cough tends to be mild, wet, and of short duration (1 to 4 days), and a cough associated with COVID is usually dry, can be severe and even painful, and can last for up to two weeks. 

Fever, Body Aches and Fatigue – A fever of 100 degrees or higher and fatigue is common for both viruses, although slightly less for COVID. Based on the most recent variant, Omicron, fever, body aches and fatigue are even less common compared to previous ones. 

Headache – Although this symptom is exhibited by both COVID and flu patients, it tends to be more severe for those infected by the flu. 

Symptoms unique to COVID – A sudden loss of taste or smell can be one of the first signs of COVID infection. Omicron has also been associated with other symptoms that are atypical with the flu, or even earlier COVID variants. These include persistent chest pain or pressure, new confusion, and difficulty waking up or staying awake.   

Self-diagnosis (often incorrect) or delays in treatment can be dangerous, so it’s important to know what’s ailing you and respond accordingly. Knowing for sure if you have COVID or Flu can help you prevent further spread and manage your illness, so getting tested is the first step. Premier Lab Solutions offers an all-in-one COVID + Flu A + Flu B + RSV panel using Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for accurate results. With one swab, the patients’ mind is at ease. 

For more information on COVID vs. Flu and its differences, contact Premier Lab Solutions today. Our COVID resource experts are ready to assist. 

Tridemic: COVID, RSV, and Flu, Oh My!

Tridemic: COVID, RSV, and Flu, Oh My!

Medical professionals are warning of a potential tridemic this winter season consisting of surges in cases of new COVID-19 variants, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), as well as Flu A & B. With the relaxed mask mandates and back-to-office workforces, these three outbreaks could spell trouble for most of the American population.

Read more about each prong of the forecasted tridemic and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

  • COVID-19: A new variant has hit the USA and is quickly overtaking the Ba5 as the dominant strain. The new variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 may be more evasive to current vaccines and immune systems. While not deviating much from the Ba5 symptom-wise, the new variants are extremely contagious.
  • RSV: U.S. hospitals have seen an increase in RSV patients this fall. While exhibiting cold-like symptoms, this virus mainly affects children under five years old with most severe cases affecting children under one year old. This illness is predominantly passed on via surfaces at schools and daycares.
  • Flu A & Flu B: The seasonal flu is making its debut early this year and there are two main types to worry about. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they vary from person to person.

The best way to stay safe this season is periodic testing of COVID-19, RSV, Flu A & B. Weekly to semi-monthly testing will keep you informed and help keep your family and friends safe. Most laboratory testing facilities have an RPP panel test to properly diagnose these infections.

For additional information or to get tested visit www.premierlabsolutions.com

Choosing A Skilled Nursing Home Facility

Choosing A Skilled Nursing Home Facility

Conducting thorough research on a potential skilled nursing facility or a post-acute rehab hospital is essential to ensuring the best possible treatment during recovery. Here are some important considerations to help you make an informed decision.

First and Foremost
Before selecting a facility, consider taking the following steps:

  • Get recommendations from friends, family and coworkers
  • Visit the facilities you are considering and talk with the Director or other staff members about the services, policies, history and staff credentials
  • Ask questions to determine if the facility meets your needs
  • Ask your adult children or trusted family member to accompany you on your visit and to help with the final decision

Important Considerations
Below are a few questions to ask before selecting a facility:

  • Is it conveniently located?
  • Is it licensed or certified by an appropriate state agency? Is it certified by Medicare?
  • Does it have a written description of its services and fees? Will it provide financial assistance if you need it?
  • How is the confidentiality of private health information maintained?
  • Does it have an emergency patient care plan in case of a power failure or natural disaster?
  • Are physicians and on-site staff properly certified by appropriate medical boards?

Inpatient Questions
The following are a list of questions to ask if you’re going to be an inpatient:

  • What is the policy regarding visitors? Are family members allowed to visit anytime?
  • If anesthesia or sedation is necessary, are those who administer it certified or trained?
  • Will the physician provide you with information related to your care?
  • What is the clinic’s success record for rehabilitation?
  • What is the physician’s specific training?
  • Will a discharge plan be developed if you wish to leave

Questions to Ask Yourself
Before making a decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the facility clean? Visit and take a look around.
  • Does the waiting room look comfortable?
  • Do you have privacy in your room?

Choosing the right post-acute care center is a tough decision. For more information on finding the best post-acute recovery facility for you or a loved one, contact Premier Lab Solutions today. Our team of laboratory experts are ready to assist.

Four Major COVID-19 Variants: What You Should Know

Four Major COVID-19 Variants: What You Should Know

If there is one thing everyone can agree upon about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is that it is constantly evolving. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen four prominent variants, which include Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron. The World Health Organization (WHO) names new coronavirus variants using the letters of the Greek alphabet, starting with the Alpha variant, which emerged in 2020. Here are some facts-in-brief about the different variants.

Alpha

  • First appeared in Great Britain in November 2020 and infections surged in December of that year. It soon surfaced around the world and became the dominant variant in the U.S.

  • Eventually mutated into the B.1.1.7 lineage, which was 30 to 50% more contagious and was more likely to land infected people in the hospital and was deadlier than the original Alpha virus.

  • Vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson showed potential in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations in Alpha cases. It eventually faded away with the rise of the more aggressive Delta variant.

Beta

  • Also known as B.1.351, was identified in South Africa at the end of 2020 and spread to other countries. However, Beta was not common in the U.S.

  • The CDC said Beta was about 50% more contagious than the original coronavirus strain, and evidence suggested that it may have been more likely than other variants to lead to hospitalization and death.

  • Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson reported that compared to Alpha, each of their vaccines were less effective against Beta.

Delta

  • First identified in India in late 2020; it soon spread throughout the world, becoming the dominant version of COVID-19—until Omicron took its place in mid-December 2021.

  • It is estimated that Delta caused more than twice the infections as previous variants, and more severe disease than other variants in people who were not vaccinated.

  • All three vaccines in the U.S. were considered highly effective against severe illness, hospitalizations, and death from Delta.

  • The CDC recommended “layered prevention strategies” regardless of one’s vaccination status. People were advised to practice such strategies as washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing, especially indoors.

Omicron and it’s Subvariants

  • The first Omicron strain (BA.1) appeared in South Africa in late November 2021, and quickly spread to other countries. By December, Omicron was causing the number of cases daily in the U.S. to climb to over one million.

  • Omicron’s subvariants are highly contagious, with the BA.5 and BA.4 variants being better than other subvariants at evading protection provided by vaccines and previous infection.

  • Although Omicron was more transmissible than Delta, scientists are still trying to determine whether the BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants cause more severe disease than their predecessors.

  • The CDC says that while breakthrough infections in vaccinated people are expected, getting vaccinated and staying up to date with a booster shot is the best protection against Omicron.

This latest mutation of the Coronavirus is highly contagious, although the symptoms may be delayed or slightly less prevalent than previous strains.  By the time an afflicted person shows signs and symptoms of infection, they may have already passed it along to other people in their proximity.

Stay informed and proactive by getting tested regularly.

Company Spotlight: Customer Service

Company Spotlight: Customer Service

In today’s world, having an excellent customer care team is crucial, otherwise clients and customers will find an alternative company to work with. Premier Lab Solutions is proud to offer world class customer service as one of the top priorities in the company.

Premier Lab Solutions defines its success as an industry leader via three pillars of support within the customer care team:

  • Round-the-clock availability and rapid response times – Customers value their time above all else. To combat long waits and correlating frustrations, Premier Lab Solutions offers patients support via phone lines, email, and walk-up visits 7 days a week. Bi-lingual representatives are also available to assist Spanish-speaking patients.

  • Validating customer feedback – Ongoing adaptability requires understanding customer needs as they happen, and at Premier Lab Solutions, customer feedback is very important. When customers are happy or compliment an aspect of service, employees forward the feedback to the rest of the team. Any negative feedback is analyzed by multiple departments and used as a tool to constantly improve lab services and future customer experience.

  • Customer self-service – In order to empower customers to help themselves, Premier Lab Solutions provides self-service tools through the web portal. From there, customers can instantly and automatically receive their testing results and keep track of prior testing for themselves and their families.

Premier Lab Solutions understands its customers and strives to meet expectations in a constantly shifting industry. The customer service team is an integral part of the company connecting patients to services in an effective, meaningful way. Learn more about Premier Lab Solutions by reaching out today. Our customer care specialists are ready to assist.

Employer Challenges of Paying for COVID-19 Testing

Employer Challenges of Paying for COVID-19 Testing

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an ongoing concern for employers across industry lines. As new variants of the virus emerge, many employers are trying to navigate workplace laws and requirements regarding COVID-19 prevention while keeping employees safe.
Here is a simple overview of the benefits and challenges employers face when paying for COVID-19 testing for their employees:


Benefits of Paying for Testing
There are several reasons employers may want to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests for their employees. First, doing so can allow employers to perform the testing on-site and control the length of time their employees are off work to obtain testing.

It’s also important to note that it can be costly for employees to pay for testing. As such, employees who have to cover their own testing costs could eventually seek other employment to reduce their personal expenses. With this in mind, paying for COVID-19 testing may help employers better retain their workforce.

By paying for and providing testing within the workplace, employers can create fewer hassles for their employees. This way, when the tests are completed, they are read by employers, and employees don’t need to find a telehealth proctor or go to the doctor to be tested or confirm their test results.

Challenges With Paying for Testing
To start, employers with a low percentage of vaccinated employees may face issues finding enough tests if all or most of these employees are completing testing regularly. In certain areas, there are shortages of COVID-19 tests.

In addition, testing costs may be high, depending on demand. If tests are hard to come by, their associated prices could increase, which could cause a financial burden for employers if they administer a large number of tests. This may pose significant strains on employers if they did not budget for testing, or worse—do not have the workforce to continue generating revenue.

Another issue employers may encounter from paying for and providing tests to employees is finding individuals to administer or witness these tests. This creates additional job tasks that must be filled by employees spending time away from their other responsibilities. Otherwise, if employers don’t have employees available to conduct tests, they may have to create entirely new positions to oversee the completion of tests and handle recordkeeping requirements.

Summary
Ultimately, there are many factors employers must consider when it comes to paying for employee COVID-19 testing. To determine whether they should do so, employers should:

  • Weigh the pros and cons of paying for testing for their employees.
  • Refer to any applicable laws to determine what their requirements are.
  • Make the decision based on what will work best for their workplace.

Contact Premier Lab Solutions for additional COVID-19 guidance and workplace resources.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2022 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Finding a Good Laboratory

Finding a Good Laboratory

When the success of your business depends on your laboratory and its testing capabilities, you should be very particular in the selection of your testing vendor. Here is a list of six questions you should ask to better uncover if your selected laboratory is a good fit for your business needs:

  • Are they CLIA accredited? Laboratory certifications are critical in ensuring a laboratory is operating at the highest standards. Verify laboratory information via the CDC CLIA Laboratory Search feature.

  • How much of the testing process does the laboratory conduct themselves and how much do they outsource? Laboratories that conduct testing in-house with no outside parties ensure better privacy and security of patient and administrator data. Premier Lab Solutions has an integrated solution that provides for in-house collections, courier, and testing, which results in an efficient, streamlined, secure process.

  • How responsive is the customer support team? Situations can change on a dime and it’s highly important to have a laboratory with friendly, round-the-clock customer service and support staff readily available. Premier Lab Solutions is a well-networked, medium-sized business that boasts the ability to be nimble and swiftly respond to customer and patient needs through live customer service agents available seven days a week.

  • How reputable is the laboratory and what other major providers have they partnered with? Laboratories that have partnered with city departments and government entities are a good way to assess their capabilities. Those kinds of partnerships can allude to their ability to process large orders swiftly and accurately, as well as adhere to contract guidelines and budgets. Ask your potential laboratory vendor for three or more references and probe for more information on how well the contracts were executed.

  • How rigid is the laboratory’s organization and its services? Laboratories that are willing to listen and adapt to the needs of the customer go a long way in providing the best service and a long-lasting working relationship. Ask questions about your potential laboratory’s services and willingness to modify their structure to meet your needs. In the past, Premier Lab Solutions has responded to client needs by extending lab hours, increasing courier services with more frequent routes, and building closer STAT labs to decrease turnaround time.

  • Are they affordable? Laboratories with government partnerships and company-wide efficient workflow allow for drastically reduced costs. City and State partnerships can often leverage government funding to supplement or subsidize the costs of testing, while in-house collections, courier, testing, and resulting reduce third party/outsourced costs. In combination, these kinds of laboratories have significantly lower overhead costs, meaning lower costs for your business.


Your business can be significantly impacted by your laboratory partnership. From drug testing to COVID-19 testing, your laboratory vendor should operate with the highest integrity and execute contracts flawlessly. For more information on how to find the best laboratory to partner with or for assistance with a current laboratory contract, reach out to us at Premier Lab Solutions.

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