The University of Minnesota released a report Thursday in which all 500 Twin Cities healthcare workers tested in their study were negative for COVID-19. Their test subjects were the healthcare workers who have been tending to patients for months.
Considering the recent surge of cases, this is good news for the frontlines.
Ryan Demmer, the lead author of the study and School of Public Health associate professor, said the results indicate that transmission rates are lower for healthcare workers than originally thought.
“While we still need to ensure that healthcare workers have plenty of personal protection equipment, the results suggest that proper PPE (personal protective equipment) use can minimize risk. The results also minimize concerns about the risk of acquiring COVID-19 via asymptomatic transmission from healthcare workers to patients.”
According to the report summary, the study was conducted over a period of eight weeks. Researchers intended to track any changes in the infection rates among healthcare workers, as well as asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread.
Demmer and his colleagues concluded that these findings indicate a low infection rate among healthcare workers – less than one percent. He explained in the report why their findings might constitute a different answer than the state’s health department.
“If you look at state health department data on who is testing positive, five or ten percent are healthcare workers, which makes it look like there’s a higher burden among healthcare workers. While this is still likely true, it could be an overestimate because healthcare workers are also more likely to be tested.”
Demmer added that the precautions taken for healthcare workers are proving effective. In their next phase of research, Demmer and his team plan on testing the same group of healthcare workers for COVID-19 antibodies.
Currently, Twin Cities metro and meat processing facilities have the most confirmed cases. There are now 18,641 confirmed cases and 828 deaths for the coronavirus in Hennepin County.
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