CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—As COVID-19 cases rise, the Centers for Disease Control is updating guidelines for healthcare workers. The CDC recently released what is being called “Emergency Guidance,” and the agency said the intent is to curb healthcare worker shortages. The guidance came in preparation for a potential omicron surge.
“We are particularly concerned about the surge at our hospitals and part of that is really dictated by available staff,” said West Virginia COVID-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh. “We know that staffing is the biggest challenge that we have right now to hospital capacity.”
The new guidance says in part that healthcare workers with COVID who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative COVID test and the isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages. According to the guidance healthcare workers who have received all vaccine doses and a booster don’t have to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.
“The CDC has indicated that under crisis standards, under really extraordinary circumstances where staffing is really short, then people can come back to work,” Dr. Marsh said.
The director of the CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky released the following statement:
“As the healthcare community prepares for an anticipated surge in patients due to Omicron, CDC is updating our recommendations to reflect what we know about infection and exposure in the context of vaccination and booster doses. Our goal is to keep healthcare personnel and patients safe and to address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities. Our priority remains prevention—and I strongly encourage all healthcare personnel to get vaccinated and boosted.”
Dr. Clay Marsh said each facility would apply the new guidance only when it was crucial and with additional factors in mind.
“The presumption would be that there would likely be a match between those people that might be positive and are asymptomatic, wearing a high barrier protection face mask taking care of people who are also COVID positive,” he explained.
Because capacity is expected to be a problem, state health leaders say people should talk to their primary care doctor instead of heading to their local emergency room unless they truly need to be at the hospital.