Although many federal health agencies are involved in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, central to every discussion has been the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Charged with the safety of the American public’s health, CDC is spearheading the United States’ epidemiologic approach, including how healthcare workers should recognize, test for, report, and respond to the coronavirus. 

“Healthcare providers should contact their local or state health department immediately to notify them of patients with fever and lower respiratory illness who they suspect may have COVID-19,” CDC advised. “Local and state public health staff will determine if the patient meets the criteria for testing for COVID-19. The state and local health department will assist clinicians to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately.” 

CDC provides precise instructions for facilities and healthcare providers, including nurses, to follow for patients who present with symptoms or those who are asymptomatic.  

Initial testing begins with collecting an upper respiratory specimen. Guideline adherence for healthcare worker safety is paramount, and maintaining a strong healthcare workforce has a direct impact on the quality of care and the goal of flattening the epidemic’s curve. 

Additionally, CDC provided a checklist for healthcare providers as they interact with patients who are COVID-19 positive: 

  • Stay up to date on the latest information about signs and symptoms, diagnostic testing, and case definitions. 

  • Review your infection prevention and control policies and recommendations. 

  • Assess and triage patients with acute respiratory symptoms. 

  • Implement standard, contact, and airborne precautions, including the use of eye protection. 

  • Use control measures for patients (e.g., put a facemask on patients with suspected COVID-19 infection). 

  • Know how to contact and receive information from state or local public health agencies. 

For additional information, consultation, or the CDC shipping address, contact the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.