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Project COVERED – COVID-19 Prevalence in Emergency Care Workers

January 25, 2021

Written by Vivian Lei

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The estimated prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among US ED healthcare personnel was 4.6%, with over 38% of those infections being undiagnosed.

Why does this matter?
Healthcare personnel (HCP) in the ED may be at higher risk from exposure to and infection from COVID-19. Furthermore, undiagnosed infection poses a risk of transmission to patients and other HCPs.

In this multicenter prospective surveillance study of HCPs, investigators assessed the prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed SARS-CoV-2 in 20 geographically diverse high-volume US hospital EDs from May to July 2020. Prior to the study, 2.8% (193/6,788) of ED HCPs had a previously diagnosed COVID-19 infection. Among a selected group of 1,606 volunteer HCP without previously diagnosed COVID-19 who underwent baseline serology and PCR testing, 29 (1.8%) had evidence of current or past SARS-CoV-2 infection. Based on this, investigators estimate the combined prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed COVID-19 across all sites was 4.6% with 38% being undiagnosed. Many HCPs with undiagnosed COVID-19 by serology did not believe they had been infected. Additionally, 76% could recall COVID-19-compatible symptoms while 89% continued to work while symptomatic.

Project COVERED Emergency Department Network. Diagnosed and Undiagnosed COVID-19 in US Emergency Department Healthcare Personnel: A Cross-Sectional Analysis. Ann Emerg Med. 2020 Dec 17. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2020.12.007. Epub ahead of print.

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