Expert questions safety of hospitals allowing staff with COVID-19 to come to work

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 3:22pm
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Arizona State University
Joshua LaBaer

Some hospitals have had to color outside the lines of usual standards and practices to cope with omicron's toll on patients and staff. But are they striking the right balance between safety and necessity?

Last week, Dignity Health told staff they can come to work with COVID-19 if they feel well enough, receive clearance from managers and wear N-95 masks for 10 days after testing positive.

"Not thrilled about the idea of going to work when you've just recently been infected, even if you're wearing a mask. Nobody can wear a mask all the time. It's pretty hard to do that and probably not safe. So I would say stay home for a little while, you know, according to the CDC guidelines at least," said Joshua LaBaer, executive director of ASU's Biodesign Institute.

LaBaer expressed sympathy for the plight of overburdened hospitals, but could not vouch for the policy's safety.

"I have not seen data to show that that is true, so I would be nervous about that. I appreciate the healthcare scenario is desperate at this point," LaBaer said. 

CDC guidelines recommend people with COVID-19 isolate for five days. After that, if fever and symptoms subside, they may go out but should wear a mask.

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