BACKGROUND: Effective halting of outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) depends on the earliest recognition of cases . We assessed confirmed COVID-19 cases at an SNF impacted by COVID-19 in the United States to identify early indications of COVID-19 infection .
METHODS: We performed retrospective reviews of electronic health records for residents with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 during February 28-March 16 , 2020 . Records were abstracted for comorbidities, signs and symptoms, and illness outcomes during the 2 weeks before and after the date of positive specimen collection . Relative risks (RRs) of hospitalization and death were calculated .
RESULTS: Of the 118 residents tested among approximately 130 residents from Facility A during February 28-March 16, 2020, 101 (86 %) were found to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 . At initial presentation, about two-thirds of SARS-CoV-2-positive residents had an abnormal vital sign or change in oxygen status . Most (90.2 %) symptomatic residents had elevated temperature, change in mental status, lethargy, change in oxygen status, or cough; 9 (11.0 %) did not have fever, cough, or shortness of breath during their clinical course . Those with change in oxygen status had an increased relative risk (RR) of 30-day mortality [51.1% vs 29.7%, RR 1.7 , 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-3.0]. RR of hospitalization was higher for residents with underlying hepatic disease (1.6 , 95% CI 1.1-2.2) or obesity (1.5 , 95% CI 1.1-2.1); RR of death was not statistically significant .
IMPLICATIONS: Our findings reinforce the critical role that monitoring of signs and symptoms can have in identifying COVID-19 cases early . SNFs should ensure they have a systematic approach for responding to abnormal vital signs and oxygen saturation and consider ensuring common signs and symptoms identified in Facility A are among those they monitor.