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To describe the cumulative seroprevalence of severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic among employees of a large pediatric healthcare system.
Design, setting, and participants:
Prospective observational cohort study open to adult employees at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, conducted April 20–December 17, 2020.
Employees were recruited starting with high-risk exposure groups, utilizing e-mails, flyers, and announcements at virtual town hall meetings. At baseline, 1 month, 2 months, and 6 months, participants reported occupational and community exposures and gave a blood sample for SARS-CoV-2 antibody measurement by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). A post hoc Cox proportional hazards regression model was performed to identify factors associated with increased risk for seropositivity.
In total, 1,740 employees were enrolled. At 6 months, the cumulative seroprevalence was 5.3%, which was below estimated community point seroprevalence. Seroprevalence was 5.8% among employees who provided direct care and was 3.4% among employees who did not perform direct patient care. Most participants who were seropositive at baseline remained positive at follow-up assessments. In a post hoc analysis, direct patient care (hazard ratio [HR], 1.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–3.68), Black race (HR, 2.70; 95% CI, 1.24–5.87), and exposure to a confirmed case in a nonhealthcare setting (HR, 4.32; 95% CI, 2.71–6.88) were associated with statistically significant increased risk for seropositivity.
Employee SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence rates remained below the point-prevalence rates of the surrounding community. Provision of direct patient care, Black race, and exposure to a confirmed case in a nonhealthcare setting conferred increased risk. These data can inform occupational protection measures to maximize protection of employees within the workplace during future COVID-19 waves or other epidemics.
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