CDC: More than 9,000 health workers have tested positive for coronavirus
At least 9,282 health care workers in the U.S. have contracted the coronavirus in a two-month period, leading to 27 deaths, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report offered the first broad look at how COVID-19 is affecting the health of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who are at greater risk of getting the virus because of their exposure to patients.
However, the CDC said the figures in the report should be considered on the lower end since many cases have likely gone “unidentified or unreported.”
Between Feb. 12 and April 9, there were 315,531 coronavirus cases reported to the CDC, but 84 percent of those were missing information about whether the patient was a health care worker.
States report data to the CDC on a voluntary basis, often leading to wide gaps in the figures.
More than half of the coronavirus cases among medical professionals included contact with a COVID-19 patient in health care settings, highlighting the risk workers face at hospitals and other facilities.
“The total number of COVID-19 cases among [health workers] is expected to rise as more U.S. communities experience widespread transmission,” the report warned.
There are nearly 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.
According to the CDC, the median age of health workers who became sick was 42 years, and 73 percent were women. Thirty-eight percent reported at least one underlying health condition. Of the health workers who died, most were older than 65.
Eight percent of reported COVID-19 cases in health workers occurred in those who showed no symptoms.
The report added that it is critical for health workers to wear personal protective equipment, including N95 respirator masks, which are viewed as most effective at blocking viruses, or other face coverings when those are not available.
However, hospitals around the country are facing shortages as the supply chain is strained by the pandemic.
A report from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general released last week found “severe” shortages of COVID-19 tests for health workers and “widespread” shortfalls of protective equipment.
Hospitals have said they are sometimes turning to construction masks or homemade masks, which they worry put staff at risk.
Updated at 3:49 pm.
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