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MYTH 1: If I don’t have a fever, I don’t have COVID-19.

A fever is roughly 100.4° F sustained over an hour, or greater than 100.9° F. Patients who are found to have SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can have different symptoms. Some studies have shown that only 44 – 65% of patients initially have a fever, though it may develop later in the infection.

Conclusion: Busted!

MYTH 2: I should stop taking my blood pressure medication to keep from getting COVID-19?

There has been a theoretical debate about the role of a specific class of high blood pressure medication called an ACE inhibitor. There is no data indicating help or harm of this class of medication in the setting of COVID-19. However, a recent study found a possible association between patients on ACE inhibitors and a lower risk of death from COVID-19. In addition, there is clear harm possible if the medication is discontinued without physician supervision. The American Heart Association recommends that patients do NOT discontinue their chronic ACE inhibitor medication.

Conclusion: Not enough data, but don’t stop your medications! 

MYTH 3: I should avoid NSAIDS like Ibuprofen if I think I have COVID-19.

The FDA has announced they are not aware of any scientific evidence supporting the need to avoid non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. The WHO originally advised avoiding the use of NSAIDs until they could investigate. They have since reversed their decision and agree with the FDA that there is not enough scientific literature to support that NSAIDs should be avoided. If you use an NSAID, be aware that it can mask symptoms of an infection such as a fever.

Conclusion: Not enough data

MYTH 4: Everyone should take hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. What do you have to lose?

Hydroxychloroquine has a long list of possible side effects and has limited science to support that it works against SARS-CoV-2. This medication should only be taken in the setting of a clinical trial for COVID-19 to ensure appropriate monitoring for side effects such as life threatening abnormal heart rhythms and irreversible vision loss. Do not start this medication without a discussion of side effects with your healthcare provider.

Conclusion: Busted!

Download a copy of the handout here.

For references in this article, download here.

Is your address up to date in the Employees Retirement System (ERS)? Open enrollment for benefits is coming soon, and that means it's also time to verify your address. ERS sends important benefits information for fiscal year 2021 including rates, plan changes/additions and other important items. If your address is incorrect, you may miss out on this information.

Verify your address quickly online with both Employee Retirement System (ERS) and Teacher Retirement System (TRS):

•             Employees Retirement System  (Insurance) – use My Account Login

•            Teacher Retirement System (Retirement) – use the MyTRS

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! API cultures form an important part of not only our history as a country, but also who we are as a people. Understanding this part of our cultural heritage can help underline the fact that despite small differences, we are a country of immigrants bound together by the marriage of cultures.
Check out the PBS documentary series Asian Americans which premieres May 11, and explore the contributions and challenges of APIs.

In addition to the mental health options offered by the Employee Assistance Program, Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Health Select of Texas medical insurance plan has mental health options. Health Select mental health benefits include coverage for inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and office visits. Referrals are not needed to see a mental health professional so employees have the option to see a mental health provider at any time. Doctor on Demand or MDLIVE virtual visits are convenient options for getting the mental health care that you need. For more mental health information, click here.

Starting September 1, all employees who use electronic cigarettes and vaping products must certify as tobacco users and pay the tobacco user premium. The ERS Board of Trustees voted in March to extend the ERS Tobacco Policy to include e-cigarettes and vaping products. ERS qualifies a tobacco user as a person who has used any tobacco product (as defined in the ERS policy) five or more times in the past three consecutive months.

How to certify tobacco users’ status
Employees can log on to their ERS OnLine Account during Summer Enrollment and click the Tobacco User Certification link to certify their status or call ERS at 1-877-275-4377 to have a representative certify the status on behalf of the employee.

Tobacco Cessation Resources
ERS offers the Choose to Quit program which encourages a tobacco-free lifestyle. In order to begin this program, you must contact your doctor to discuss which tobacco cessation option is right for you. To learn more about the tobacco cessation options that are available, click here.

Free budgeting apps can help you make sounder financial decisions, plan, and manage:

Mint

  • Syncs with your accounts
  • Free

Everydollar

  • Zero-based budgeting
  • Free for a basic account

Goodbudget

  • The envelope system online/in app.  You might have learned this method from your parents.  It’s still tried and true.
  • Free for basic

And:

Check out this free budget worksheet from Nerdwallet

Input your income and expenses, and we’ll show how your spending compares to the 50/30/20 budget.

YNAB (you need a budget) is another highly rated app (and currently has a free trial offer)

Programming has been completed to enable entry of the new leave options available for HOURLY employees. You may begin entering those hours now. The deadline to get these hours entered and approved and any exceptions cleared and re-approved is May 4. Hours approved by the deadline will be paid out on May 8. Information for salaried employees will be available soon.

Important Timekeeping Notes: Exceptions will appear for hourly employees who exceed the daily maximums. The exception will need to be cleared and approved in order for the time to pay.

1)  Entering leave on the timesheet – If you use a “punch” timesheet, meaning you enter hours in and out, you will need to enter just the total hours in the quantity section of the timesheet. Do not enter hours in and out. If you exceed the daily maximum amount to pay, you will receive an exception once you enter the time, the time is approved, and the time administration process has run. Your exception will tell you how many hours you need to reduce your original request by in order to comply with the law. You will insert a new row for the same day and enter the negative amount reflected in the exception. For example: You enter 8 hours of leave, the leave is approved, time admin runs, you get an exception that says you exceeded the allowable amount by 4 hours. You enter a new row for the same day and enter a negative 4 hours on that row using the same leave code. 

Types of Leave Available:  

1) Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
This leave is available to employees who have been employed by UNT World for at least 30 days. Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time, part-time employees hours will be prorated based on FTE. You may qualify for this leave if you experience one of the following:

  • governmental quarantine or isolation order (the lesser of 100% pay or $511 per day, and $5,110 in aggregate),
  • advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine (the lesser of 100% pay or $511 per day, and $5,110 in aggregate),
  • caring for an individual who is subject to governmental or self-quarantine (the lesser of two-thirds (2/3) salary or $200 per day, and $2,000 in aggregate),
  • caring for the employee's child because the child's school or child-care provider is closed, (the lesser of two-thirds (2/3) salary or $200 per day, and $2,000 in aggregate), or
  • experiencing a substantially similar circumstance related to COVID-19 as specified by the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Labor (the lesser of two-thirds (2/3) salary or $200 per day, and $2,000 in aggregate)

2) Emergency Family and Medical Leave Extension
This leave provides up to 12 weeks leave for an employee who cannot work because the school or child-care provider of that employee's child is closed as a result of a public-health emergency. The first 10 days are unpaid, the remaining 10 weeks is paid at two-thirds (2/3) of regular pay for the number of hours per week the employee normally works. The maximum amount of pay is $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate.

Please note: Documentation must be maintained by the department for any employee using Emergency Paid Sick Leave. Those choosing to use Emergency Family and Medical Leave will apply through FMLA Source and required documentation will be maintained by Human Resources.

For more information regarding the codes to use for the timesheet, as well as other helpful information, please see Working Conditions under COVID 19.

For questions regarding these new options, please contact HRbenefits@untsystem.edu.

We hear a lot about stress these days, and how it is linked to chronic disease. There is definitely a link between stress and health. However, our minds are powerful, and some researchers suggest that how we perceive stress can make all the difference. View more...

It’s a great time to remind those enrolled in a HealthSelectSM health plan about the mental health benefits available to them. HealthSelect mental health benefits include coverage for inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and office visits. Your employees don’t need a referral for any mental health services, so they can see a mental health provider at any time. However, some services, such as inpatient treatment or intensive outpatient hospital treatment, need a prior authorization before the plan will cover them. A Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) Personal Health Assistant can help participants understand what services require prior authorization and also work with a participant’s doctor’s office to help coordinate.  View more...

  • $2.2 Million in business grants available through Denton County OPEN (Operational Plan for Economic Normalization),  offering grants up to $10,000 for local businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to closures.  Learn more and see if your business qualifies!
  • Questions?  Call 940-349-4280, Monday-Friday, 8am - 5pm.  Email OPENgrants@dentoncounty.gov