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Mody L, Gibson KE, Mantey J, Bautista L, Montoya A, Neeb K, Jenq G, Mills JP, Min L, Kabeto M, Galecki A, Cassone M, Martin ET. Environmental contamination with SARS-CoV-2 in nursing homes. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2022 Jan 1; 70(1):29-39.
BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in nursing homes (NHs) have been devastating and have led to the creation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) units within NHs to care for affected patients. Frequency and persistence of SARS-CoV-2 environmental contamination in these units have not been studied. METHODS: A prospective cohort study was conducted between October 2020 and January 2021 in four Michigan NHs. Swabs from high-touch surfaces in COVID-19-infected patient rooms were obtained at enrollment and follow-up. Demographic and clinical data were collected from clinical records. Primary outcome of interest was the probability of SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection from specific environmental surfaces in COVID-19 patient rooms. We used multivariable logistic regression to assess patient risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 contamination. Pairwise Phi coefficients were calculated to measure correlation of site-specific environmental detection upon enrollment and during follow-up. RESULTS: One hundred and four patients with COVID-19 were enrolled (61.5% > 80?years; 67.3% female; 89.4% non-Hispanic White; 51% short stay) and followed up for 241 visits. The study population had significant disabilities in activities of daily living (ADL; 81.7% dependent in four or more ADLs) and comorbidities, including dementia (55.8%), diabetes (40.4%), and heart failure (32.7%). Over the 3-month study period, 2087 swab specimens were collected (1896 COVID-19 patient rooms, 191 common areas). SARS-CoV-2 positivity was 28.4% (538/1896 swabs) on patient room surfaces and 3.7% (7/191 swabs) on common area surfaces. Nearly 90% (93/104) of patients had SARS-CoV-2 contamination in their room at least once. Environmental contamination upon enrollment correlated with contamination of the same site during follow-up. Functional independence increased the odds of proximate contamination. CONCLUSIONS: Environmental detection of viral RNA from surfaces in the rooms of COVID-19 patients is nearly universal and persistent; more investigation is needed to determine the implications of this for infectiousness. Patients with greater independence are more likely than fully dependent patients to contaminate their immediate environment.