Calif. forcing COVID-positive health care employees to work after others were fired for not getting jab

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After many California hospital workers were booted from their job last year for not getting the jab, the state is now welcoming back COVID positive health care workers with open arms.

Asymptomatic individuals who popped positive when tested will no longer be required to quarantine if they are fully inoculated according to the guidance issued by the Calfornia Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Thursday. They will also be required to wear N95 respirators and will work primarily with COVID-positive patients.

“The department is providing temporary flexibility to help hospitals and emergency services providers respond to an unprecedented surge and staffing shortages,” a CDPH representative said in a statement to NBC Bay Area. “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.”


(Video Credit: KCRA News)

Although the workers can’t have symptoms if they return to work, union representatives melted down at the thought of two people infected with the same virus being near each other in a health care setting.

“It’s appalling and very disappointing that he would put health care workers, nurses, and of course our patients, in grave danger,” Zenei Triunfo-Cortez with the California Nurses Association said. “It’s getting much worse than before because now we’re surging. Hospital beds are to the max. ICU beds are being used up. And if we do not have protections and if we are being told to come to work, even if we test positive, there’s a major disaster waiting to happen.”

“Healthcare workers and patients need the protection of clear rules guided by strong science. Allowing employers to bring back workers who may still be infectious is one of the worst ideas I have heard during this pandemic, and that’s really saying something,” said Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU California, according to CBS Sacramento.

Health care workers also balked at the new rules that went into effect on Saturday and will continue through Feb. 1.

“It’s scary,” said Dennis Anderson, a 20-year veteran phlebotomist in Folsom. “The thought that we could be transmitting COVID-19 to the people we care for every day.”

“When you step into an ER or walk through the ICU, people are getting that déjà vu,” he explained. “The state might be compromising workplace safety precautions at a time when we should be supporting health care workers.”

Dr. George Rutherford, a University of California San Francisco professor of Epidemiology, explained that the state’s new guidance is not unprecedented.

“This is about having infected people taking care of infected people. We did this with Ebola in South Africa. We’ve done it before. It’s not the first play option in our playbook. I think staffing issues are such that it led the state to put this guidance out,” the doctor said.

Many reactions to the new policies indicated that people welcomed the new rules that were reminiscent of the year 2019.

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Ashley Hill

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