The SARS-CoV-2 virus is currently circulating in a pandemic that, by mid-May 2020, has resulted in well over 4.25 million documented infections and claimed nearly 300,000 lives. Multiple epidemiological models are demonstrating that initial social distancing and self-isolation orders have been successful in dampening exponential spread of the virus. However, widespread social distancing and isolation are not sustainable in the long term, due to severe psychosocial and economic effects. There is an urgent need to collect data to inform various workforce sectors about safe return-to-work programs.
Dr. VandeWoude’s group is piloting a rational surveillance testing approach that can be modified for demographic and risk profiles specific to a given workforce type. The overall aim is to minimize the local risk of continued intermittent outbreaks among vulnerable populations, while concurrently pursuing a return to normal workforce productivity and function. The pilot program involves paired PCR surveillance and serotesting in two unique, but critical workforce communities in Colorado: Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) workers, and University community members. These communities represent two scenarios that are both critical to the public good, and high-risk for SARS CoV-2 transmission. These scenarios necessitate targeted surveillance for asymptomatic shedding in SNF workers who may inadvertently infect the vulnerable patients in their care, and an assessment of risk levels to guide resumption of on-site activity in the University setting. Data from these studies will facilitate safe return to normalcy in two highly disrupted Colorado communities, while also providing useful guideposts for back-to-work programs nationally.