As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, the CDC recently warned nurses are at significant risk of contracting the disease.1
Investigators reported 6% of adult patients hospitalized with the virus from March until May 2020 were healthcare workers. Of these, 36% were nurses or nursing assistants. Further, 28% of the hospitalized healthcare workers required admission to ICUs, 16% needed mechanical ventilation, and 4% died. The analysis highlights the enhanced vulnerability of patients with underlying health conditions. Close to three-quarters of healthcare workers hospitalized with the virus were obese, a factor that puts patients at higher risk of death. Further, the CDC reported most hospitalized healthcare workers in the analysis were women (71.9%), and they tended to be older, with a median age of 49 years.
While investigators could not pin down where the healthcare worker participants contracted the virus, the majority had provided direct care to patients. Thus, investigators concluded nurses who serve in frontline roles face a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their close patient contact and extended, ongoing exposure to those potentially infected with the virus.
The analysis authors emphasized the need for rigorous infection control practices in healthcare settings as well as mitigation efforts aimed at reducing transmission of the virus in the community.
- Kambhampati AK, O’Halloran AC, Whitaker M, et al. COVID-19-associated hospitalizations among health care personnel — COVID-NET, 13 States, March 1-May 31, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1576-1583.