U.S. hospitals are engaged in an infection control arms race. Hospitals, specialties, and professional groups are spurring one another on to adopt progressively more aggressive measures in response to Covid-19 that often exceed federal and international standards. Examples include universal masking of providers and patients, decreasing thresholds to test asymptomatic patients, using face-shields and N95 respirators regardless of symptoms and test results, novel additions to the list of aerosol-generating procedures, and more comprehensive personal protective equipment including hair, shoe, and leg covers. In this article, we review the factors underlying this arms race, including fears about personal safety, ongoing uncertainty around how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted, confusion about what constitutes an aerosol-generating procedure, increasing recognition of the importance of asymptomatic infection, and the limited accuracy of diagnostic tests. We consider the detrimental effects of a maximal infection control approach and the research studies that are needed to eventually de-escalate hospitals and to inform more evidence-based and measured strategies.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol
The Covid-19 Infection Control Arms Race.