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Early UCHealth antibody testing results indicate its health care workers have low rates of COVID-19 infection exposure

June 5, 2020

Aurora, Colo. (May 29, 2020) – In the week since UCHealth began offering antibody tests to anyone in Colorado, over 12,400 people have opted to find out if they have been exposed to COVID-19.

UCHealth expanded antibody testing a week ago to its patients and anyone in the general public.

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Of the 12,438 tests that had been performed as of June 3, 466 were positive – a rate of 3.7 percent. However, the data shows a much lower positive rate among UCHealth staff and providers:

  • All antibody tests: 3.7% positive rate.
  • UCHealth staff and providers: 2.3% positive rate.

“While one might expect health care workers in hospitals would have higher rates of exposure, the results that we’ve seen so far indicate our employees and providers have lower rates of infection,” said Rob Welch, UCHealth’s lead laboratory director. “This suggests that our education efforts, personal protective equipment, social distancing and the strong infection prevention measures put in place by UCHealth at its hospitals and other health care facilities do indeed work, and our employees are following safety guidelines when they are not at work as well.”

The antibody test, done with a blood draw, can determine whether someone has been exposed to or been sickened from the virus in the past. The antibody tests that UCHealth now provides have been evaluated by the FDA and far exceed the agency’s requirements for accuracy and specificity. These are among the few antibody tests authorized by the FDA, and they are among the most accurate being offered in the nation.

UCHealth did validation testing with people known to be positive and negative for the virus to prove the specificity of the tests, said Dr. Richard Zane, UCHealth’s chief innovation officer and chair and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“A positive test does not mean that a person should feel he or she is safe from COVID-19, as there is not enough known about whether antibodies protect a person,” Zane said. “We don’t know if having antibodies means you will be immune from contracting COVID-19.”

For more information or to schedule a test, visit UCHealth.org/COVID19-testing or use the UCHealth mobile app. From there, anyone can easily schedule a test at the location of his or her choosing. People who aren’t current UCHealth patients can create a My Health Connection account and schedule testing. While most health insurance plans will cover the cost of testing, patients are encouraged to check with their health insurance plan for coverage details.

Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, encourages everyone to continue to be mindful of steps people can take to reduce exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.

“It’s imperative to remember we are still in the midst of a pandemic, and my message to everyone is: Don’t let your guard down. Don’t change your behavior. Continue to practice physical distancing, wash your hands often and wear a mask when appropriate,” Barron said.

About UCHealth

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. UCHealth includes over 25,000 employees, 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth is dedicated to providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. Offering more than 150 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.

Contact: Paula Freund
Paula.freund@uchealth.org
720.848.5809