Health care personnel (HCP) caring for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) might be at high risk for contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Understanding the prevalence of factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection among frontline HCP who care for COVID-19 patients is important for protecting both HCP and their patients.
In the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report posted September 4, 2020, the discussion was how little is known about the prevalence and features of SARS-CoV-2 infection among frontline U.S. health care personnel. The report said that among 3,248 personnel observed, 6% had antibody evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection; 29% of personnel with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were asymptomatic in the preceding months and 69% had not previously received a diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was lower among personnel who reported always wearing a face covering while caring for patients (6%), compared with those who did not (9%).
What are the implications for public health practice? The risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from HCP to others within hospitals might be mitigated by adherence to recommended practices such as universal use of face coverings and suggestions to have dedicated cohorts of HCP caring for patients with COVID-19. In addition to maintaining PPE supplies and instituting universal face covering policies for HCP at work, enhanced screening, including frequent testing of frontline HCP and universal use of face coverings in hospitals are strategies that could reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Stay strong, stay the course, stay well, mask up and stay tuned!