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April 16, 2022

2 min read


Disclosures: Billock reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Health care personnel with COVID-19 were more likely to report exposure to SARS-CoV-2 at work than in their household or community, especially during periods of high community transmission, CDC researchers found.

In a press release, Rachael M. Billock, PhD, an epidemiologist for the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), said the study showed that workplace exposure is “a major driver of infections” among health care personnel.

Billock RM, at al. Am J Infect Control. 2022; doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2022.01.007 0196-6553.

Billock noted that previous reports hypothesized health care personnel were more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 away from work because those who lived in areas with a higher incidence of the disease were more likely to get COVID-19.

Rachel Billock

“NIOSH felt it was important to conduct this study to better understand exposure settings among health care personnel in the United States and the known association between incidence in the community and incidence among health care personnel,” Billock told Healio.

Billock and colleagues assessed exposures among health care personnel in the US between March 2020 and March 2021 using national COVID-19 surveillance data, adjusting the prevalence ratios for cases identified before the initiation of COVID-19 vaccination programs.

Overall, the study found that among 83,775 health care personnel with COVID-19 who had one or more exposures, 52% reported health care exposures, 30.8% reported household exposures and 25.6% reported community exposures.

An adjusted analysis showed that health care personnel were more likely to report health care exposures (aPR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.26-1.36) and less likely to report household and/or community exposures (aPR = 0.73; 95% CI, 0.7 -0.76) under the highest community incidence levels compared with the lowest community incidence levels.

“Many health care personnel with COVID-19 were exposed at work, particularly during periods of high community incidence,” Billock said, adding that approximately two-thirds of health care personnel with COVID-19 who reported exposure on the job and specific exposure types reported exposures to patients with COVID-19.

“A similar proportion reported exposures to coworkers with COVID-19, with many heath care personnel reporting both types of exposures,” Billock said. “These findings emphasize the importance of infection prevention and control measures targeting all potential transmission routes in health care workplaces, including coworker-to-coworker transmission.”


Billock RM, at al. Am J Infect Control. 2022; doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2022.01.007.

Data from new CDC study reveal key trends in US healthcare personnel COVID-19 exposures. Published April 14, 2022. Accessed April 14, 2022.

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