April 15, 2020
Nearly 9,300 healthcare professionals were among the over 315,500 COVI9-19 cases in the U.S. between Feb. 12 and April 9, according to new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data, in the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, offer a clearer picture of how the virus is impacting healthcare professionals.
Overall, only 3% of COVID-19 cases were among healthcare professionals during the nine-week period. But, according to the CDC, that percentage is likely an underestimate since reports on only 49,370 cases included information about healthcare professional status. In states with more complete reporting, healthcare professionals accounted for 11%—or 1,689 of 15,194 of known cases.
Additional findings about healthcare professionals with COVID-19 include:
- Median age was 42;
- 73% were women;
- 38% reported at least one underlying health condition;
- 92% reported at least one symptom among fever, cough and shortness of breath; and
- 90% were not hospitalized.
The majority of healthcare professionals (55%) reported coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 only on the job. The report said identified several ways to prevent transmission from patients to these essential workers.
Suggested measures include:
- Screening healthcare professionals for fever or respiratory symptoms at the beginning of their shifts;
- Prioritizing healthcare professionals for testing;
- Discouraging healthcare professionals from working while they are ill, with flexible and non-punitive medical leave policies;
- Continuing the use of recommended personal protective equipment (PPE); and
- Training healthcare professionals on preventive measures such as PPE use and hand hygiene.
The CDC noted the above measures will likely reduce the risk of healthcare professionals with COVID-19 transmitting the virus to their colleagues and patients.