COVID-19 positive, asymptomatic healthcare workers return amid staffing shortages

Healthcare workers across the U.S. are being asked to return to work after testing positive for COVID-19 if they are asymptomatic.

The CDC's latest guidance allows healthcare providers to bring back workers who test positive but are asymptomatic if there are critical staffing shortages. HHS reported as of Jan. 8, about a quarter of hospitals are experiencing a critical staffing shortage.

The California Department of Public Health issued guidance Jan. 8 that asymptomatic healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19, or were exposed to the virus, can return to work immediately without additional testing or quarantining. The exposed and infected workers must wear N95 masks.

The California health department made the change, effective through Feb. 1, to mitigate the challenge of staffing shortages at healthcare facilities across the state.

Dignity Health also updated the policies for its Arizona facilities to help with staffing shortages by allowing staff who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, to return to work, according to an NBC 12 News report.

In Rhode Island, Eleanor Slater Hospital reported a COVID-19 outbreak with 28 patients testing positive Jan. 6 after it allowed asymptomatic workers who tested positive for the virus to return to work. The state updated guidance to allow asymptomatic healthcare workers to return Dec. 31.

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