COVID-19 Prevalence among U.S. Healthcare Workers

There have been several studies in specific regions and cities, as well as international studies that could be used to estimate the prevalence of the disease among US health workers. Prevalence estimated from these findings is between 4%-11%. The results vary according to the type of test used. Healthcare workers, generally have a higher prevalence compared to non-healthcare workers.

New York

  • A study in New York using both an antibody and reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test found 14.8% of 1699 employees tested positive.
  • The study suggests that in the New York metro area, COVID-19 was less prevalent among healthcare workers at the time of the study when compared to the prevalence among the surrounding general population of New York and Long Island. New York City showed a prevalence of 21.2% while Long Island showed 16.7%. The authors concluded how the results may be evidence of the effectiveness of PPE.
  • It should be noted that the RT-PCR test in this study has a significantly higher positive rate compared to the antibody test. RT-PCR had a positive rate of 29.8% and the antibody had 9.8%. Further, New York was an epicenter at the time of this study and this study likely does not represent the entire nation.

New Jersey

  • A smaller study conducted through the Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick campuses) and the two participating affiliated hospitals included 546 healthcare workers and 283 non-healthcare workers.
  • The study results showed a prevalence of 7.3% among healthcare workers, a significantly higher prevalence compared to that of 0.4% among non-healthcare workers.
  • It should be noted that this is a significantly small sample. The study concludes that healthcare workers, particularly those with high levels of close patient contact, may be particularly vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Seattle, Washington

  • 3,477 symptomatic healthcare employees of the UW Medicine healthcare system were tested. The study separated frontline healthcare workers from non-frontline staff. 66.4% of the participants were identified as frontline healthcare workers.
  • With a prevalence of 5.2% among frontline healthcare workers and 5.5% for non-frontline staff, the study concludes there may be no significant differences in prevalence among healthcare workers, whether they are the frontline or non-frontline staff.

International Study (US and UK)

  • By far one of the largest studies, 2, 135, 190 participants, including 99,795 (4·7%) identified as front-line health-care workers, were
  • For the US, a total of 182,408 participants comprised of both frontline healthcare workers and the general community members were tested. Although there is a variation from state to state, the study found that the prevalence of COVID-19 among US healthcare workers to be 4.1%, compared to 1.1% for the general community.

Other Findings from a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • As noted in the earlier section with findings from a New York study, the tests used to determine prevalence may be significant to the results. The systematic review and meta-analysis studying COVID-19 in Health-Care Workers across the world considered both the RT-PCR and the antibody test.
  • The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection from healthcare workers found to be 11% from the RT-PCR test and 7% from the antibody test.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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