The majority of nurses who have been hospitalized had cared directly for patients, whether in a hospital or at home

By Georgia Slater
October 27, 2020 01:09 PM
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Nurses station in busy hospital
| Credit: Getty

A new analysis of hospitalized patients by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that nurses are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their frequent contact with infected patients.

The findings released on Monday looked at 6,760 hospitalizations across 13 states, including New York, California, Ohio and Tennessee.

According to researchers, about 6 percent of adults who were hospitalized from March through May were health care professionals. More than one-third of these workers (36 percent) were either nurses or nursing assistants.

The study also found that 27 percent of hospitalized workers were admitted to the ICU — and 4 percent died.

Researchers say that the majority of health care workers who were hospitalized had directly cared for patients, whether in a hospital, school or home setting.

The study notes that as health care professionals have "frequent and close patient contact" this leads to "extended cumulative exposure time."

Of the hospitalized workers who were studied in the report, a majority of them were female and older.

Researchers added that frontline workers "can have severe Covid-19-associated illness, highlighting the need for continued infection prevention and control in health care settings as well as community mitigation efforts to reduce transmission."

Michelle Mahon, assistant director of nursing practice at National Nurses United, a union that has been pushing for increased testing since the beginning of the pandemic, told The New York Times, that these findings did not come as a surprise.

"We need more testing," she asserted.

According to the Times, Mahon has long criticized federal officials for not having stronger guidelines to keep health officials safe.

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She told the outlet that frontline workers should have more frequent testing so that they can are able to isolate and prevent any further spreading of the virus.

Last week, the CDC announced that COVID-19 transmission can happen in just a few minutes over the course of a day.

The federal health agency had previously said that people should get tested if they’ve been within six feet of a COVID-19-positive person for more than 15 minutes at one time.

But after studying a small outbreak at a Vermont prison, they updated the guidance to say that transmission can occur if someone is around another person who has the virus for a total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period — even if each exposure was just two or three minutes at a time.

This discovery "significantly adds to the scientific knowledge of the risk to contacts of those with COVID-19 and highlights again the importance of wearing face masks to prevent transmission," the CDC said in a statement.