June 21, 2024

After Firing Hundreds over Vaccine Mandates, California Has to Use COVID-Positive Hospital Staff

Hospitals in California are allowing employees with coronavirus to continue working as long as they do not have symptoms


Hospitals in California are allowing employees with coronavirus to continue working as long as they do not have symptoms, because they are short of staff, after the state’s vaccine mandates resulted in hundreds of health care workers being suspended or fired.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

Faced with an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases across California, the state’s Department of Public Health now says that health care workers who test positive for the virus can remain on the job — at least through Feb. 1.

The policy shift is prompted by the need to keep hospitals functioning during the current surge, the department said. Allowing infected health workers to continue their duties is needed “due to the critical staffing shortages currently being experienced across the health care continuum,” according to the health department’s letter, posted online Saturday, to acute care and psychiatric hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

The loosened requirements apply only to health care workers who are asymptomatic, and they will need to wear N95 respirators rather than standard medical face masks. The department wants such workers to treat only patients who already have tested positive, the letter said, although it acknowledges that “this may not always be possible in settings such as the emergency department” where everyone’s infection status is not always known.

Unions representing hospital staff voiced opposition to the new policy.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom, with the support of the unions, imposed vaccine mandates on health care workers in the state, boasting that California was the first state to have done so.

Because these vaccine mandates were imposed at the state level, they were not suspended by ongoing litigation against the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates, and hundreds of health care workers in California, a small percentage of the total, quit or were suspended or fired for refusing to be vaccinated.

California is in the midst of its worst coronavirus surge of the entire pandemic, thanks to the infectious omicron variant.

The state is so short-staffed that Gov. Newsom called out the National Guard last week to assist with coronavirus testing.

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