The spread of COVID-19 in US hospitals hit a record high in January, with more than 3,000 hospital-acquired infections each week during the month and a peak of over 4,300 an analysis of federal data by Politico.
The surge in hospital transmissions reflected the massive surge in cases in the general population fueled by the ultratransmissible Omicron variant. The previous record for hospital transmission of COVID-19 was set in January 2020, when federal data found over 2,000 infections per week in hospitals.
Nevertheless, the numbers are likely to be significantly undercounted overall, as they only cover patients who spend 14 consecutive days in a hospital and become infected during their stay. The data does not account for shorter stays or people who tested positive after discharge.
Politico noted that the data also doesn’t indicate which hospitals had the highest transmission. And the data doesn’t capture how the pandemic virus spread to patients within hospitals, meaning how much was transmitted from healthcare workers to patients, patients to patients, or visitors to patients.
A variety of factors could have contributed to the hospital spread, including limited availability of COVID tests and people spending long periods in crowded waiting rooms as some healthcare facilities were overwhelmed during the Omicron surge. The lack of enforcement of the mask requirement in hospitals by patients and visitors could also have been a source of infection.
Another possibility is relaxed guidelines for infected healthcare workers. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased restrictions Guidance for Healthcare Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19. In crisis situations, the CDC allowed infected healthcare workers to return to work without being isolated or testing negative. However, healthcare workers were still expected to wear high-quality N95-class masks to minimize the spread of the virus.
Anonymous officials told Politico that the CDC is investigating the cause of the spike in hospital infections. But while there is room for improvement in measures to prevent transmission, outside experts noted that the rate of infection in hospitals was very low compared to the rate of infection outside of communities. It is almost impossible to reduce infections to zero.
This article was previously published on Source link