Infectious Disease

California desires weekly COVID-19 screening for all HCP

December 11, 2020

3 min read

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The California Department of Health strongly recommends that the state’s general acute hospitals begin weekly testing of all health professionals for COVID-19 starting next Monday.

California said its strategy was informed through the CDC’s preliminary guidelines on testing health workers for SARS-CoV-2. It applies to all health professionals (HCP) with signs or symptoms related to COVID-19, asymptomatic HCP with known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and to support the early detection of asymptomatic HCP without known or suspected exposure to SARS-CoV -2.

The state of California also recommends that general acute care hospitals “test all patients prior to admission and monitor all patients for the development of COVID-19 symptoms [and] Immediately test all newly symptomatic patients and those exposed to a suspected or confirmed case during their hospital stay. ”

Although these “strategies” of those testing strategies were referred to in a letter from the California Department of Health to the state’s general acute hospitals, a spokesman for the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) told Healio Primary Care that the organization viewed them as “requirements.” and treat them as such in “discussions with employers”.

The California Nurses Union / CNU / NUU (Nurses Union United), which did not respond to a request for comment from Healio Primary Care, said in a press release that the high number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals led them to fight the new recommendations.

The authors of an article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine wrote that amid the pandemic, “major concerns about the safety of healthcare workers” and the “duration of [SARS-CoV-2] Exposure and exposure frequency “is a risk factor for COVID-19. Findings published in The Lancet Public Health suggest that on the front lines, HCP is at least 3.4 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19.

“This test requirement has been a long time coming” Cathy Kennedy, RN, President of the CNU and executive vice president of the NNU said in a press release. “Now hospitals in the rest of the country just have to do the same thing to get this virus under control.”

However, according to NUHW, at least several California hospitals have indicated that they may not be complying with the state mandate and are viewing the new rules merely as a recommendation that they do not need to follow.

Sal Rosselli, The NUHW president said in a press release that this was “incomprehensible,” citing data indicating that the number of Californians hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases nearly doubled in the past two weeks of November. The surge in COVID-19 cases caused the governor to instruct individuals to stay at home except for “permitted work, local shopping, other permitted errands, or [those] otherwise authorized. ”

According to the California official COVID-19 website, ICU availability ranged from 1.9% to 30.3% in various regions of the state on December 10. A December 3 article in BMC Health Services Research predicted that at least 5% of the US population will develop COVID-19 at some point. 15% of these patients need to be hospitalized and 5% need intensive treatment. Over time, five patients with COVID-19 will need to be hospitalized for every existing U.S. hospital bed, the researchers said.

“The nurses are exhausted and afraid of what the next few weeks will bring,” said Rosselli. “[Nurses] doesn’t want to be called heroes, they want to be tested. If the NFL can test their players every day to protect their health, hospitals should be able to test their workers every week and if they refuse they should be severely punished for ignoring a state order . “

A California Department of Health spokesperson told Healio Primary Care that “healthcare workers who refuse to take a test may be exposed to action by the facility or their provider,” adding that these actions may vary by location.

references

California Department of Health. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) test recommendations for patients and medical staff (HCP) in general acute hospitals (GACHs). https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHCQ/LCP/Pages/AFL-20-88.aspx. Accessed December 8, 2020.

Cowan J and McDermott MT. “California lockdowns go into effect.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/07/us/stay-at-home-california.html. Accessed December 8, 2020.

Gouda D et al. J Am Board Fam. Med. 2020; in the press.

State of California. Information on COVID-19 restrictions. https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs. Accessed December 8, 2020.

Tonna JE et al. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020; doi: 10.1186 / s12913-020-05975-z.

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Peter Katona, MD, FACP, FIDSA)

Peter Katona, MD, FACP, FIDSA

The more COVID-19 tests we can do, the better it is. Therefore, this California recommendation is very important.

Health workers should be tested regularly, as recent recommendations in California have shown. However, some health systems have had more positive test results than expected, leading to staff shortages when we can least afford them.

Fortunately, the CDC has indicated that 14 days of quarantine are no longer needed for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, just 10 days. And if a negative test result can be delivered, it only takes 7 days.

Peter Katona, MD, FACP, FIDSA

Clinical Professor of Medicine, Associate Professor of Public Health and Chairman of the Infection Control Working Group

University of California, Los Angeles

Disclosure: Katona does not report any relevant financial information.

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