You are the CEO. You are the leader of the business and you make all of the decisions. You’ve decided to take command of your health, and you’ve created a culture at your company that promotes the health of all of your employees for the betterment of the business. Today,  you’ve completed your morning workout, you’ve showered and gotten ready for the day, and finally, you sit down at your desk with a cup of tea to read today’s newspaper. The first headline you read is: A new highly contagious variant of COVID-19, the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, has become the dominant strain in the United States. As the CEO, this is the last thing you want to read. You’ve dealt with over two years of trying to operate your business during a global pandemic. And once again, you might feel pressure to reinstate policies of masking or quarantine rather than operating business as usual. Here’s our advice for you: Do your own research and make your own decisions based on data.  

At Sumus, we believe the most important thing you can do as a CEO and the leader of your company is to do your own research. As new data on the Omicron BA.5 subvariant of COVID-19 that is circulating throughout the US has been released, media outlets have – once again – begun to perpetuate fear. For example, CNBC recently released an article titled “Omicron’s newest variant might be a threat to your July 4 weekend—here’s how to stay safe.” Similarly, CNN published an article just last week titled “BA.5: The ‘Worst Wariant’ is here.” The goal of the media is to sell eyeballs – to get you to tune in tomorrow, the next day, and next week. This has been apparent since the early days of the pandemic and still continues today. As the CEO of a company, reading conventional news is not good enough. You have to go above and beyond for your business – this is why we at Sumus encourage you to do your own research. 

Doing your own research starts with researching the newest subvariant of COVID-19 and assessing its actual threat level. As mentioned in one of our blogs from April, all viruses follow Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and only those viruses that contain strategic mutations will replicate and survive – thus forming new variants. As such, this new subvariant should be surprising to no one. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Omicron BA.5 subvariant is the dominant strain in the US right now and is believed to spread particularly easily; changes to the spike protein developed through mutations have “souped up its ability to get around immune defenses.” However, Director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, stated that “there is no evidence to suggest BA.5 causes more severe disease.” Despite efforts from the media to hype the severity of this new variant and stir fear, this Omicron BA.5 subvariant is the outcome of the normal trajectory of all viruses and should be no cause for panic. 

Now that you know that it’s important to do your own research, where do you go to find this information? Ultimately, you should look for sources that provide statistics and studies, rather than someone’s personal opinions. Thus, we recommend going directly to the CDC or Worldometer to analyze their data. Here, you can avoid reading the opinions of writers, and you can interpret the data and statistics for yourself. For example, over the last two years, the main narrative from the media has been that COVID-19 is a deadly virus and that people of all ages are being infected and are dying; Therefore, we must get vaccinated and wear masks to protect ourselves and others. However, in early January of 2022, Rochelle Walensky dropped a bombshell when she stated that research done by the CDC found that those who have died from COVID-19 had two or more comorbidities. Here’s another example of data interpretation versus mainstream news headlines: in the month of May, the government released data from the Canadian province of Manitoba showing that vaccinated people were more likely to be hospitalized or to die from COVID-19. This data included an adjustment for the fact that the vaccinated were older than the unvaccinated. In addition, the outcome of the study also found that only 9% of COVID-19 deaths were among the unvaccinated. If you were not given access to this data, and you simply relied on Google to learn about vaccine efficacy, you would be deceived. If you Google the question “Will the COVID-19  vaccine stop me from dying?”, one of the top hits is titled “All COVID vaccines stop severe illnesses and death.” This shows that it is difficult to trust any headlines or the opinions of writers unless their points are backed up with ample evidence. We’ll say it again: do your own research.

Once you do your own research, you’ll be in a better position to formulate your company’s health policies in line with the latest data. With news of the latest Omicron BA.5 subvariant and talks of impending mask mandates, you might ask – how does Jim Baker, the CEO of Sumus and 50 Cups, manage to make health policies? He prioritizes doing his own research, and his health policies are based on hard data. Mr. Baker recommends that if your workforce is not at risk, there is no reason to mandate anything. We know that healthy individuals have a very high survival rate against the virus. However, if the population of your workforce is at-risk, Jim Baker advises that companies allow employees to make their own decisions, but it is still not necessary to mandate anything. In order to help employees make the best decision for themselves, CEOs should share the research they find with employees so that they are receiving an angle that is driven by data and different from the one they receive from mainstream media.

Throughout the last two years, CEOs across the country were tasked with navigating operations and creating health policies for their company; however, many CEOs are still missing the bigger picture. Here is what we are trying to nail on the head with our “Health Savvy CEO” series – Nearly all of the health issues related to COVID-19 can be avoided by simply encouraging your employees to live a healthier lifestyle by leading by your own example.  In March of 2021, a CDC study found that of the patients that were hospitalized from COVID-19, 79.1% were either overweight or obese. In our blog from July 8th, we argued that “Shifting your company culture to one that is health-oriented may require some costs (healthier snacks, fitness equipment, etc.), but investing in your employees’ health and well-being is a worthwhile investment.” As the CEO, it is your responsibility to create a company culture that promotes health, and it is a worthwhile investment. 

As we’ve been living with the reality of COVID-19 for over two years now, there is ample data and research out there. You are a high-level executive, and you are doing a disservice to yourself and your business if you rely on mainstream news outlets. Here at SUMUS, we simply hope that the decisions you make are well-informed and can be supported by data rather than fear.