Health care workers say new COVID guidelines for asymptomatic are 'disaster waiting to happen'

Some doctors believe this change will play a crucial role in alleviating the statewide health care staffing shortage

Jessica De Nova Image
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
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Health care workers took to the streets on Monday to protest the controversial new workplace guidelines for those who test positive for COVID-19, calling it "a disaster waiting to happen."

LOS ANGELES COUNTY (KABC) -- California health care workers took to the streets on Monday to protest the controversial new workplace guidelines for those who test positive for COVID-19, calling it "a disaster waiting to happen."

According to a recent change made by the California's department of public health, health care workers across the state won't have to isolate or test negative to go back to work if they are asymptomatic until February 1.

This change is going against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation for anyone who tests positive to isolate for five days with or without symptoms.

The department of public health told Eyewitness News via email on Monday that "hospitals are reaching capacity and staffing shortages are making it difficult to treat those who need essential care."

READ MORE | Calif. health care workers who are asymptomatic with COVID won't have to test or isolate to work

Dr. Maria Raven, the chief of Emergency Medicine at UCSF Parnassus Campus, believes this change will play a crucial role in alleviating the statewide health care staffing shortage.

"We know that in 2020 before there were even vaccines, the rate of transmission from providers to patients that has been documented has been miniscule," said Raven and added, "So, now in the age of vaccines and boosters and PPE, we feel like if somebody has a negative COVID test even if they have some symptoms you know given the shortages they should be able to come to work."

California's Department of Public Health is requiring hospitals to opt for this option after exhausting every other option and requiring asymptomatic health care workers to wear N95 masks at all times.

The state's health department elaborates on their change by explaining in part, "Facilities and providers using this tool, should have asymptomatic COVID positive workers interact only with COVID positive patients, to the extent possible."

Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, who protested on Monday, said this puts health care workers and their patients in danger.

"In order for us to be able to take care of our patients, we need to be in the best of health and so going to work sick, very well knowing that we have the virus, will not be a good fit for our patient," she said.

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