CDC guidance allows healthcare professionals with unprotected exposures to COVID-19 continue to work until they’re symptomatic or test positive
FORT WORTH, Texas — The unknowns of COVID-19 are forcing new risks into healthcare every day, including how to treat employees who have had unprotected exposures to COVID-19.
“It’s a really difficult balancing act to make sure that you’re caring for the well-being of your staff while also making sure you have adequate resources to care for the public,” Dr. Stephan Davis, a public health educator at UNTHSC said.
A healthcare worker at Baylor Scott & White emailed WFAA a memo sent to their team reading, “If someone close to you gets COVID, you continue to work until you are symptomatic.”
The worker wrote to WFAA that it put coworkers, families and patients at risk.
“I can absolutely understand their concern,” Davis said. “As a nurse, the last thing I’d want to see if other nurses and healthcare professionals in harm’s way.”
Baylor Scott & White said in an email they’re following CDC guidance.
“As the number of COVID-19 cases rise in our communities, in line with recommendations and guidelines from the CDC, we are taking many measures to protect the health and safety of our patients and our team members while mitigating potential staffing shortages,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.
If there are critical staff shortages, CDC guidance allows healthcare workers who have had unprotected exposures to the virus to work if they haven’t had symptoms or tested positive as opposed to quarantining for 14 days, which is the recommendation for other professions.
“I think the CDC is responding to reality that hospitals do have critical staff shortages where we see hotspots of COVID-19,” Davis said.
Baylor Scott & White, along Texas Health Resources and JPS Health confirmed they’re using that policy.
Parkland Hospital, UT Southwestern and Medical City Healthcare didn’t respond to requests for clarification of their policies.
Chief Nim Kidd leads Texas’s Division of Emergency Management and said there are shortages at hospitals in different parts of the state.
Read More: Healthcare worker concerned over ‘work until you are symptomatic’ policy at