Using Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and High Isolation of Asymptomatic Carriers to Contain the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Nursing Homes

Alec J. Schmidt, Yury García, Diego Pinheiro, Thomas A. Reichert, Miriam Nuño

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

More than 40% of the deaths recorded in the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic were linked to nursing homes. Not only are the residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) typically older and more susceptible to endemic infections, the facilities’ high degree of connection to wider communities makes them especially vulnerable to local COVID-19 outbreaks. In 2008, in the wake of the SARS-CoV-1 and MERS epidemics and anticipating an influenza pandemic, we created a stochastic compartmental model to evaluate the deployment of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in LTCFs during influenza epidemics. In that model, the most effective NPI by far was a staff schedule consisting of 5-day duty periods with onsite residence, followed by an 4-to-5 day off-duty period with a 3-day quarantine period just prior to the return to work. Unlike influenza, COVID-19 appears to have significant rates of pre-symptomatic transmission. In this study, we modified our prior modeling framework to include new parameters and a set of NPIs to identify and control the degree of pre-symptomatic transmission. We found that infections, deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU utilization were projected to be high and largely irreducible, even with rigorous application of all defined NPIs, unless pre-symptomatic carriers can be identified and isolated at high rates. We found that increasingly rigorous application of NPIs is likely to significantly decrease the peak of infections, but even with complete isolation of symptomatic persons, and a 50% reduction in silent transmission, the attack rate is projected to be nearly 95%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number180
JournalLife
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Non-pharmaceutical interventions
  • Nursing homes
  • Pre-symptomatic carriers
  • Silent transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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