06 Nov Study Finds Hospital Support Staff Had Highest Rates of COVID Infections
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Emily S. Barrett, PhD
Rutgers School of Public Health
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute
Piscataway, NJ 08854
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: As the covid-19 pandemic hit the us, it became clear that health care workers were potentially at risk and there was great concern for frontline doctors and nurses treating infected patients. With the health and safety of our hospital staff in mind, we offered covid-19 virus and antibody testing to all of the hospital employees.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Although we did see that providing direct patient care was a risk factor for infection, to our surprise, we observed that employees in support roles (such as maintenance and housekeeping, food service, and security) actually had the highest rates of infection (as measured by positive virus or antibody tests). We also noted that black and latinx hospital workers were twice as likely to be infected as white workers even after controlling for their job roles. These results are similar to the disparities that have been observed in many communities around the u.s.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: One take-away message is that covid-19 risks to hospital staff extend beyond the frontline workers. We don’t know whether infections originated in the hospital, but regardless, this is a potential source of infection in the hospital setting, particularly since 40% of our participants who tested positive reported having had no symptoms.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future studies like this in other hospital settings would be valuable. Ultimately, we would like to know if the infections are occurring in the hospital setting or the community, but that is a very tricky question to address.
Emily S Barrett, Daniel B Horton, Jason Roy, Weiyi Xia, Patricia Greenberg, Tracy Andrews, Maria Laura Gennaro, Veenat Parmar, William D Russell, Nancy Reilly, Priyanka Uprety, John J Gantner, Lydia Stockman, Stanley Z Trooskin, Martin J Blaser, Jeffrey L Carson, Reynold A Panettieri, Jr, Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection in hospital workers: results from a screening study in New Jersey, U.S. in Spring 2020, Open Forum Infectious Diseases, , ofaa534, https://doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofaa534
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