2020 COVID-19 Urban Research-to-Action Award: Assessing City Health Care Workers’ SARS-CoV2 Transmission to Families

PI: Diana Ceballos, PhD, MS, CIH, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, BU School of Public Health (SPH)
Co-PIs: Jessica Leibler, DrPH, ScM, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health, SPH; and Jennifer Greif Green, PhD, MA, Associate Professor, Special Education Program, Wheelock College of Education & Human Development
Co-Is: Jonathan Levy, ScD, Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Health, SPH; and Julia Noguchi, MPH, MA, DrPH Student, Department of Community Health Sciences, SPH

This pilot study seeks to understand whether healthcare workers are exposing their families and household members to SARS-CoV2—the virus that causes COVID-19—and if so, how they are exposing them. Such take-home exposure through an infected healthcare worker or a worker taking SARS-CoV2 virus on their clothing, skin, or belongings poses serious health risks to their families and households. Further, such risks may not be as easily mitigated for lower-income healthcare workers, such as custodial staff, food service workers, and other hospital support staff. For example, higher-income healthcare workers may have access to separate bedrooms and bathrooms for self-quarantine, and they may have a lower risk of exposure, either at work through greater access to personal protective equipment (PPE) or by being able to drive to work and avoid public transit.

To understand and begin to address such risks, Ceballos, Leibler, and Green will survey healthcare workers at Boston Medical Center on existing safeguards in place at work, when leaving work, and once at home. Analyzing health histories and symptoms, the researchers will estimate the efficacy of take-home mitigation efforts. Further, the researchers will pilot an interactive online training with healthcare workers and their families on effective mechanisms to mitigate take-home exposure of SARS-CoV2.

View the full list of projects receiving our 2020 COVID-19 Urban Research-to-Action Awards.