California’s coronavirus crackdown clashed with shortages of health care workers and the state blinked, allowing asymptomatic nurses to work again.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated vaccination for all health care workers. In fact, Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente suspended more than 2,000 of its workers who did not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The state has changed its mind, apparently.
New state guidance says asymptomatic health care workers in California do not have to isolate or show a negative COVID-19 test before returning to work, according to a Sunday report from The Epoch Times. The guidance reportedly remains in effect until Feb. 1. It stipulates staff wear N-95 respirator masks while working.
California Nurses Association President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez told NBC affiliate KCRA that, if health care workers are told to work even if they test positive for COVID-19, it is “a major disaster waiting to happen.”
“I think it’s callous and it’s putting our patients and ourselves in grave danger,” Triunfo-Cortez added.
The network affiliate interviewed local health care workers who would be affected by the changed guidance.
“It’s scary,” said Dennis Anderson, who works at Dignity Health in Folsom. “The thought that we could be transmitting COVID-19 to the people we care for every day.”
Anderson reportedly said the hospital energy now reminds him of the pressure he felt when the pandemic began surging in 2020.
“When you step into an ER or walk through the ICU, people are getting that déjà vu,” said Anderson. “The state might be compromising workplace safety precautions at a time when we should be supporting health care workers.”
A California Department of Public Health spokesperson reportedly issued a statement to a Bay Area NBC affiliate questioning the move.
“The department is providing temporary flexibility to help hospitals and emergency services providers respond to an unprecedented surge and staffing shortages,” the spokesperson reportedly said. “Hospitals have to exhaust all other options before resorting to this temporary tool. Facilities and providers using this tool should have asymptomatic COVID-19 positive workers interact only with COVID-19 positive patients to the extent possible.”
Another California Nurses Association President, Sandy Reding, told local media the new guidance puts patients at risk, according to The Epoch Times.
“We are very concerned,” Reding told KNTV News. “If you have health care workers who are COVID positive care for vulnerable populations, we can spread the COVID virus inside the hospital as well.”
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