Hospitals in the US have no option but to let infected workers continue treating patients, largely due to the shortage of staff across the nation.
Health authorities around the U.S. have taken the extraordinary step of allowing nurses and other workers infected with the coronavirus to stay on the job if they have mild symptoms or none at all. This has come as a reaction to severe hospital staffing shortages due to the vaccine mandate and crushing caseloads that the omicron variant is causing.
Many hospitals are not only swamped with cases but severely shorthanded because of so many employees out with COVID-19, and some who haven’t taken the jab.
As of Monday night, California health authorities announced that hospital staff members who test positive but are symptom-free can continue working. Some hospitals in Rhode Island and Arizona have also told employees they can stay on the job if they have no symptoms or just mild ones. In Phoenix, Dignity Health, a major hospital operator, sent a memo to staff members saying those infected with the virus who feel well enough to work may request clearance from their managers to go back to caring for patients.
As it stands, despite the risk that remains, infected workers will be required to wear extra-protective N95 masks and should be assigned to treat other COVID-19-positive patients.
But in reaction to this reckless decision, a 100,000-member California Nurses Association came out against officials and warned it will lead to more infections. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state health leaders “are putting the needs of health care corporations before the safety of patients and workers,” Cathy Kennedy, the association’s president, said in a statement. “We want to care for our patients and see them get better — not potentially infect them.”