We’ve been covering a lot of publications and organizations that have been putting together important best practice guidance for nurses working on the front line of the Coronavirus.
However, today, rather than pointing you towards a long list of links that you can follow, I have put together some information that covers the basic questions you may be asking yourself as a travel nurse, working in these very testing times.
Every day, you are putting yourself at risk to serve others. I hope these tips (originally advised by the CDC) will assist you.
1. At what stage is someone infectious?
Unfortunately, the onset and duration of viral shedding leading towards a known period of infectiousness have yet to be confirmed.
What we do know if we compare the current COVID-19 to SARS-CoV-2 RNA, is that it may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset.
Taking this into account, along with current literature on studies regarding SARS-CoV-2, the incubation period is likely to be between 2-14 days.
2. Can a COVID-19 patient be infected again after recovery?
Again, this is an unknown. The immune response to COVID-19 is not fully understood yet (April 2020).
Taking previous Coronavirus cases, patients with MERS-CoV infection were highly unlikely to be re-infected after initial recovery. (Time will tell how long this potential immune response will last, however).
In the case of COVID-19 it is too early to state whether a similar immune response will occur.
3. How can healthcare professionals protect themselves against COVID-19?
The CDC recommends that an extremely cautious approach is taken. Contact precautions, airborne precautions all need to be implemented if you are working with someone that has a confirmed case of COVID-19, (or in an environment where it is likely).
The transmission dynamics have yet to be fully determined, but all possible protection measures should be taken. At the basic level, this involves mouth, nose and eye protection along with wearing gloves.
4. What do the PPE Recommend?
With the protection levels stated above being difficult in times where personal protective equipment (such as masks) might be in short supply, it is important that you look after the equipment that you do have.
You may have been asked to conserve, clean and reuse masks. This is not an ideal scenario, however, it is better than not wearing a mask at all.
The social distancing measures employed within the USA will help flatten the curve in time, (as it has in parts of Italy and Spain and has proved to have happened in China).
This social distancing is intended to slow spread decrease the demands put on the healthcare system, important equipment and supplies, and, ultimately, the professionals risking their lives on the front line.
In light of supply shortages, these following links will help travel nurses stay safe:
- Recommended guidance for extended use and limited reuse of N95 filtering facepiece respirators
- Strategies for optimizing the supply of facemasks
5. How should COVID-19 be treated?
As we are all too aware, there are no antiviral drugs licensed by the FDA to treat COVID-19 at the moment. That process may take at least a year.
Currently, there is a long list of supportive care that has to be implemented when treating the most severe complications caused by the Coronavirus, COVID-19. These include:
- advanced organ support for respiratory failure,
- septic shock,
- and multi-organ failure.
Statistics as to the percentage of those contracting the virus that need critical life care is unreliable at this stage. Furthermore, not all patients with COVID-19 require medical supportive care.
Additional coronavirus resources for travel nurses:
- Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Situation Summary
- CDC’s Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019
- CDC Nonpharmaceutical Interventions resources
- CDC Flowchart to Identify and Assess 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus disease advice for the public
- American Nurses Association Coronavirus Information