COVID Exposure Risk Outside of Work Increasing for Clinicians

November 12, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified November 13, 2020

A recent article from Medscape discusses a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). According to the study, one third of COVID-19 exposures among health care providers (HCPs) in Minnesota are due to family or community exposure, not patient care. Between March 6 and July 11, 2020, researchers with the MDH evaluated 21,406 incidences of HCP exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of those, 5374 (25%) were classified as higher-risk exposures, meaning the provider had close contact for 15 minutes or more, or during an aerosol-generating procedure.

Two thirds of the higher-risk exposures occurred during direct patient care and 34% were related to nonpatient care interactions (eg, coworkers, social and household contacts). Overall, 6.9% of the HCPs with a higher-risk exposure received a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result within 14 days of the exposure. Notably, HCPs with household or social exposure had the highest positivity rate across all exposure types at 13%.

“Since the time period covered in this report, we’ve seen a significant increase in the proportion of HCPs who have had higher-risk exposures outside of work due to household or social contacts,” said lead author Ashley Fell, MPH, from the Minnesota Department of Health. “We also recognize that HCPs, like the rest of the community, are experiencing COVID fatigue and that facilities have to constantly be innovative and vigilant to help HCPs maintain rigorous safety precautions with their patients and around their colleagues,” Fell concluded.

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