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Dr. John Lynch: Announcing Antibody Testing for Employees

UW Medicine will soon begin to offer COVID-19 antibody (serology) testing for all employees. The testing will be offered through Employee Health on an optional basis and will be piloted first with staff and faculty (including nurses, EVS, therapists, physicians, nutrition and food services) who have worked directly with COVID-19 patients and then will expand to all employees. See below for important details.
Status Update: We continue to see a gradual decline in the number of cases in UW Medicine hospitals, which is evidence that our state’s efforts to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” have been effective. I’m very appreciative of everything that everyone has been doing to keep our community safe.

UW Medicine Hospitals COVID-19 Activity

UW Medicine COVID-19 Inpatient Case Trend April 28, 2020

State, National and Global Updates

Washington: Washington state reported 13,686 cases and 765 deaths as of April 26. A total of 179,679 people have been tested, and 7.6% of those tests have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 981,246 COVID-19 cases and 55,258 deaths as of today.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Situation Report for April 28 reports 2,954,222 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 202,597 deaths. As lockdowns in Europe ease with declining numbers of new cases, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros urged countries to find, isolate, test and treat all cases of COVID-19 and trace every contact to ensure these declining trends continue.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing for Employees

UW Medicine is recommending that all employees participate in COVID-19 antibody (serology) testing when it is available through Employee Health. This will provide our organization and the community with information on how many healthcare personnel have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). It will also improve our understanding of the virus and resulting disease, including how widespread the infection has been in our community in general.

As we make plans to roll this out in the coming weeks, a few important points about antibody testing are listed below. Please see the FAQs below for more information.

  • Antibody testing requires a blood draw.
  • This test should not be used to determine if you are currently infected.
  • If you have any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should sign up for the PCR nasopharyngeal swab test.
  • A positive antibody test indicates that you may have been infected with SARS-CoV-2
  • A negative test indicates that you have not been infected with the virus.

Looking ahead to the possibility of more COVID-19 cases in the summer and fall, antibody testing may help us determine whether a prior infection provides immunity against future infections. Because this is not yet known, all employees, including those with a positive antibody test, must continue to follow UW Medicine’s infection control and safety requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE), required extended masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing, regardless of test results.

Testing will be piloted first with staff and faculty (including nurses, EVS, therapists, physicians, nutrition and food services) who have worked directly with COVID-19 patients and then will expand to all employees. An operational team has been formed to identify testing locations and hours of operation with the goal of making antibody testing as convenient as possible. Once these details have been determined, we will provide this information to all employees.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing FAQs (For Patients and Providers)

COVID-19 Prevention Bundle and Safety Toolkit Resources

The rollout of the COVID-19 Prevention and Control Bundle and Healthcare Worker Safety Toolkit this week is going very smoothly. In support of these efforts, we have created a COVID-19 Prevention Bundle and Safety Toolkit Button (under Quick Access Resource Buttons) on the landing page of the UW Medicine COVID-19 website where you can find policy information, presentations, signs and flyers.

I especially want to thank you for making the personal commitment to consistently wear face masks and to continue to maintain physical distancing as possible throughout your work shifts. As we prepare to resume more services in our hospitals and clinics, we know these efforts, combined with excellent hand hygiene, are the best ways to assure patient safety and protect each other.

Sincerely,

John Lynch, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine

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