J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021 Nov 9. doi: 10.1111/jgs.17567. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) spreads rapidly amongst residents of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The rapid transmission dynamics and high morbidity and mortality that occur in SNFs emphasize the need for early detection of cases. We hypothesized that residents of SNFs infected with SARS-CoV-2 would demonstrate an acute change in either temperature or oxygen saturation (SpO2) prior to symptom onset. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) conducted a retrospective analysis of both temperature and SpO2 at two separate SNFs to assess the utility of these quantitative markers to identify SARS-CoV-2 infection prior to the development of symptoms.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of 165 individuals positive for SARS-CoV-2 that were residents in in SNFs that experienced COVID-19 outbreaks during April-June 2020 in a metropolitan area of Minnesota. Age, sex, symptomology, temperature and SpO2 values, date of symptom onset and date of positive SARS-CoV-2 test were analyzed. Temperature and SpO2 values for the period 14 days before and after date of initial positive test were included. Descriptive analyses evaluated changes in temperature and SpO2, defined as either exceeding a set threshold or demonstrating an acute change between consecutive measurements.
RESULTS: Two (1%) residents had a temperature value ≥100o F, and 30 (18%) had at least one value ≥99o F within 14 days before symptom development. One hundred and sixteen residents (70%) had at least one SpO2 value ≤94% while 131 (80%) had an acute decrease in SpO2 of ≥3% between consecutive values in the 14 days prior to symptom onset.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that acute change in SpO2 might be useful in identification of SARS-CoV-2 infection prior to the development of symptoms among residents living in SNFs. Facilities may consider adding SpO2 to daily temperature and symptom screening checklists to improve early detection of residents of SNFs infected with SARS-CoV-2.