COVID-19-associated case fatality rates up to 48% were reported among nursing facility residents. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, routine SARS-CoV-2 testing in long-term care facilities in the Province of Salzburg and centralized hospitalization in the COVID-19 unit of the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg (Austria) irrespective of symptoms was implemented. Baseline characteristics and the course of COVID-19 disease were assessed among hospitalized long-term care facility residents within the COVID-19 Registry of the Austrian Group Medical Tumor Therapy (AGMT; NCT04351529). Between the 24th of March and the 20th of April 2020, 50 COVID-19-positive residents were hospitalized. The median age was 84.5 years (range: 79-88) and the median number of comorbidities and baseline medication classes was 6 (IQR: 4-7) and 5 (IQR: 3-6), respectively. At admission, 31 residents (62%) were symptomatic, nine residents (18%) pre-symptomatic whereas ten residents (20%) remained asymptomatic. The 30-day mortality rate from hospitalization was 32% and significantly higher in symptomatic residents at admission when compared to asymptomatic residents including pre-symptomatic residents (48% [95% CI: 27-63%] versus 5% [95% CI: 0-15%], p=0.006). The Early Warning Score (EWS) at admission was associated with 30-day mortality: high risk: 100%, intermediate risk: 50% (95% CI: 0-78%), and low risk: 21% (95% CI: 7-32%) (p<0.001). In light of comparably low mortality rates between asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic hospitalized COVID-19-positive residents, we suggest the supply of comparable intensity and quality of monitoring and care in long-term care facilities as an alternative to immediate hospitalization upon a positive COVID-19 test in asymptomatic residents.
Keywords: COVID-19; Long-term care facility; Nursing facility; Pandemic; Residents; SARS-CoV-2.