POSTED BY PAMELA FAYERMAN
The B.C. government and BCCDC have finally responded to my request for a breakdown on the number of COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers.
As of August 8, the latest date for which data is available, 178 registered and licensed practical nurses in B.C. have tested positive since the pandemic began. Given historical trends (20 additional cases in each of the past few months among nurses), the number would, as of today, be closer to 200. The August 8 data shows an increase of 42 cases from two months ago when the number of nurses infected was 136.
Registered nurses account for 17.5% of COVID-19 cases in healthcare workers while licensed practical nurses account for 4.1%. The data does not distinguish between health professionals who were infected at work or outside health care facilities. It is often impossible to determine the source of infections but nurses have recently been granted
As of August 8, healthcare workers accounted for 17% of the 4,825 COVID cases on that date. As of August 24, there were 5,184 lab-tested or epi-linked cases in the general population, including 23 deaths.
As the chart above shows, the next most impacted category of healthcare workers is care aides – 129 infected compared to 95 two months ago. Nearly 300 individuals who work in long term care, in various capacities, have gotten COVID-19, according to the government. There have been 77 dental professionals affected by the virus, an increase of 10 cases from two months ago.
Forty-one physicians have tested positive, an increase from 35 cases two months ago.
Some of the data is rather non-specific; 205 cases representing 25% of all COVID cases in healthcare workers fall under a category called “other” which includes pharmacists. Another 80 are “not specified” because the healthcare worker did not provide that information at the time of testing. Without specifics, it’s impossible to know how many allied health professionals have potentially contracted COVID-19 at work – including pharmacists, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and traditional Chinese medicine, for example.
The healthcare worker definition for these purposes includes all those who either provide care or who work in healthcare facilities so that can include students, volunteers, and those who work as support staff, in clerical roles, for example.
Housekeepers, paramedics, hospital/health facility kitchen staff, and laboratory technicians account for relatively low numbers of cases, a fact that should be somewhat reassuring to such healthcare workers and their employers.
BCCDC says only one health care worker has died since the pandemic began and it has been determined that exposure to the fatal COVID-19 infection occurred “outside the clinical work setting.”