Mercer Island MD: New guidelines for health workers could expose ‘vulnerable people’

Jan 17, 2022, 10:29 AM
health care workers, hospital...
A patient is shown sitting in a hallway at a hospital in Houston, Texas. (File photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(File photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers, even if they are infected with COVID-19, can go back to their jobs as long as they don’t have symptoms and are wearing masks.

“The CDC has now revised their guidelines such that it allows for health care workers who are COVID positive but have mild symptoms to actually return to work,” said Dr. Gordon Cohen.

This is already known to be happening at MultiCare Health Systems in Washington state, as the Jason Rantz Show and KIRO Newsradio reported last week.

“I find the recommendation curious,” Cohen said. “I understand the practical aspect, which is that there’s a shortage of health care workers to begin with and when they’re out sick, it future exacerbates that shortage. But I do find it curious because by definition, anyone who is in a hospital, for any reason — let’s say you have a car wreck — you’re by definition immuno-suppressed.”

“So if you have your health care workers running around who are also COVID positive, you could essentially come into the hospital with a car wreck but leave with COVID,” he added.

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Dr. Cohen also noted that this comes while we now know that the omicron variant is highly transmissible, whether you’re vaccinated and boosted or not.

Even though death rates haven’t drastically increased from omicron, hospitals have had to “curtail a lot of elective surgery and regulate what goes on within the hospital to keep beds open,” Cohen explained.

“So I understand these new guidelines, in terms of their practical application, that we need nurses and doctors and other health care providers to be present in the hospital to care for patients,” Cohen emphasized. “But at the same time, if they’re coming in with COVID, we may be actually exposing vulnerable people to the illness.

“It basically puts us 100% dependent on wearing masks,” he said.

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Mercer Island MD: New guidelines for health workers could expose ‘vulnerable people’