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Asymptomatic California health workers with COVID won’t have to test or isolate to work

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – California health workers will not have to self-isolate or test negative to return to work if they are asymptomatic until February 1.

As omicron cases continue to rise and hospital staff shortages increase statewide, the California Department of Public Health is changing its COVID isolation guidelines.

“If we have a nurse calling, it means to us that we cannot open an area in the emergency department that we could have opened,” said Dr Maria Raven, chief of emergency medicine at the UCSF. Campus Parnassus, adding: “We believe that if people don’t have symptoms, they should be able to come to work.”

This change goes against the CDC’s recommendation for anyone who tests positive to isolate for 5 days with or without symptoms.

RELATED: San Francisco Health Department to Cut COVID Testing Site Hours of Operation Due to Staff Shortage

Dr Maria Raven believes this change will play a crucial role in reducing the health workforce shortage statewide.

“We know that in 2020, even before there were any vaccines, the rate of provider-to-patient transmission that has been documented has been minimal,” Dr Raven said and added, “So now in the age of vaccines and booster shots and PPE, we feel like if someone has a negative COVID test even though they have symptoms that you know from the shortages, they should be able to come to work. “

The California Department of Public Health is requiring hospitals to take this option after exhausting all other options, and requires asymptomatic healthcare workers to wear N95 masks at all times.

The state health department details their change by explaining in part: “Facilities and providers using this tool should have COVID-19 positive asymptomatic workers who only interact with COVID-19 positive patients. , to the extent possible. “

RELATED: Some Bay Area Families Wait Over 7 Hours for COVID PCR Tests

The California Nurses Association believes this change will put patients and hospital staff at risk.

“We’re all starting to prepare again for another surge. It’s so exhausting and we’re in moral distress,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, president of the California Nurses Association.

Triunfo-Cortez calls on Governor Newson to reinstate the period of isolation for asymptomatic healthcare workers.

“For us to go to work knowing we are infected with the virus even though we don’t have the symptoms. We know we can potentially infect our patients and that’s not fair,” Triunfo-Cortez said.

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