Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are required to conduct routine emergency-preparedness training for infectious disease outbreaks, as well as generally maintain infectious disease policies and protocols. The arrival of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States mandates a call to action for all facilities to review those policies, confirm policy enforcement, and ensure that infectious disease safeguards in place for healthcare providers (HCPs) are appropriately tailored to address and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The American Hospital Association has urged all HCPs to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites for guidance on tailoring policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak to the extent it spreads throughout the United States. As of March 4, 2020, the CDC issued an update to its Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with COVID-19. The CDC encourages HCPs “to report recognized exposures, regularly monitor themselves for fever and symptoms of respiratory infection and not report to work when ill.” Given how easily COVID-19 may spread, the CDC encourages each healthcare facility to develop a “low threshold” plan that will address how it will screen its HCPs for symptoms, and establish quarantine and treatment protocols for HCPs with presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses. This is particularly important for HCPs who are at high or medium risk of exposure to COVID-19. The CDC defines these exposure classes as follows: