COVID-19 infection among emergency department healthcare providers in a large tertiary academic medical center following the peak of the pandemic.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The American journal of emergency medicine






Covid-19; Emergency medicine; Epidemiology; Health care provider; Personal protective equipment; SARS-CoV-2; Seropositive.


The COVID-19 pandemic has spread through the US during the last few months exposing healthcare providers to possible infection. Here we report testing of emergency department (ED) healthcare providers (HCP) for exposure to COVID-19 through lateral flow point of care (POC) and lab-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and RTq-PCR for evidence of acute infection. 138 ED HCP were tested between May 26th (approximately one month after the peak of COVID-19 first wave of cases) and June 14th. Enrolled ED HCP represented about 70% of the total ED HCP workforce during the study period. Subjects were tested with a POC COVID-19 antibody test, and standard ELISA performed by a university-based research lab. Subjects also provided a mid-turbinate swab and a saliva specimen for RTq-PCR. All subjects provided demographic information, past medical history, information about personal protective equipment (PPE) use, COVID-19 symptoms, as well as potential COVID-19 exposures during the previous 4 weeks, both in the ED, and outside the clinical setting. None of the HCP had positive RT-PCR results; 7 HCP (5%) had positive IgG for COVID-19; there was strong agreement between the lab-based ELISA (reference test) and the POC Ab test (P ≤ 0.0001). For the POC Ab test there were no false negatives and only one false positive among the 138 participants. There was no significant difference in demographic/ethnic variables, past medical history, hours worked in the ED, PPE use, or concerning exposures between seropositive and seronegative individuals. Moreover, there was no significant difference in reported symptoms between the two groups during the previous four weeks. The rate of COVID-19 seroconversion in our ED was 5% during the month following the pandemic's first wave. Based on questionnaire responses, differences in demographics/ethnicity, medical history, COVID-19 exposures, and PPE use were not associated with ED HCP having been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In the setting of our limited cohort of subjects the COVID-19 POC Ab test performed comparably to the ELISA lab-based standard.


This is an open access PubMed Central article.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


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