Guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health on January 8 allows acute care hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to bring healthcare workers back to work after they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been directly exposed without any testing or isolation periods.

This goes against all common sense safety protocols and is nothing less than the state of California caving in to pressure from healthcare corporations. Here’s what you need to know:

  • We are pushing back and calling on the state to rescind these guidelines that put us, our families, and our patients at risk. UHW members are speaking out against the new guidelines: ABC 10 – Sacramento; Fox 26 – Fresno.
  • Kaiser leadership has told us that they do not plan to relax their isolation policies at this time, which is great news. We are talking to other employers and insisting that they don’t make changes based on the new state guidance.
  • There is nothing in the new guidance that requires healthcare facilities to force workers back to work after testing positive and we will do everything possible to stop any of our employers from doing that, including insisting on bargaining over any changes to policy for employees infected with COVID-19.
  • Too many of our employers put themselves in this position where they are desperate for staff during this surge because they refused to fill all open staff positions and have insisted on us working with less staff than needed to provide the best care for our patients.

“For the first time my 50 years I’ve been thinking ‘Maybe it’s time to get out,’” said respiratory therapist Gisella Thomas. “This is absolutely, absolutely ridiculous. This is asinine.”

Thomas is concerned for the well-being of herself and her coworkers and said it directly contradicts the very premise of health care.

“Now you don’t even know if the person you’re working with is COVID positive and maybe spreading it,” she said. “Why are you doing this to us healthcare workers. We were heroes and now we are COVID carriers.”

For more, read our press release: 
Healthcare Workers Decry California Opening the Door to Forcing COVID-Positive Caregivers Back to Work