CDC Says Frontline Healthcare Providers with Undetected COVID-19 Infections Could be Spreading the Virus

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report says up to 6% of staff caring for COVID-19 patients at 13 hospitals across the country tested positive for the virus. Of the 3,248 healthcare personnel (HCP) tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, nearly 30% were asymptomatic and nearly half did not suspect they were ever infected.

These statistics, according to CDC, indicate that a significant number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in frontline HCP go undetected and unrecognized, “possibly because of the minimally symptomatic or subclinical nature of some infections, underreporting of symptoms, or nonsystematic testing of some personnel with symptomatic infections.” Furthermore, the findings suggest that doctors and nurses who have been infected, but asymptomatic, could have unknowingly spread the virus to patients and coworkers.

CDC says understanding the prevalence of and factors associated with infection among frontline providers is essential for protecting HCP and patients and developing effective strategies for minimizing spread of the virus in healthcare settings. The agency notes that the following two recommendations can help reduce likelihood of transmission:

  • healthcare professionals should remain diligent in their use of personal protective equipment, specifically face coverings, during clinical encounters; and
  • healthcare organizations should consider enhancing screening for providers by lowering clinical thresholds for testing.

Policyholders are advised to monitor ongoing CDC guidance related to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and to review MLMIC’s resource page for important information on navigating the pandemic, including the latest developments in medicine and government