January 11, 2022
New state rules put us at risk — and our patients too
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 Dignity and 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.
Working to reinstate COVID sick leave
Last year California workers had two weeks of paid sick leave if we had COVID, but that law expired in September. The Omicron surge is forcing us to choose between our paycheck and staying home when we’re sick. We pushed the Governor and Legislature to restore COVID paid sick leave and make it retroactive to when it expired last year so we are covered for leave taken during this surge. Now, Governor Newsom’s budget proposal is calling for COVID paid sick leave, and healthcare champions in the Legislature are ready to work with us to get it done. This is why building our political power matters.
- Sign the petition to state leaders telling them to bring back Paid Sick Days for California workers
- If you have a Twitter account, Tweet to let legislators know it is essential that they pass legislation on Paid Sick Days.
- Call your legislator today and tell them COVID leave is an urgently needed safety measure for frontline workers (find your legislator here, and make sure to contact the capitol office).
Healthcare insurance companies to cover at-home COVID tests
The Biden administration is insisting that private insurers cover the cost of 8 at-home coronavirus tests per member per month starting this Saturday. The guidelines are part of the effort of the federal government to catch up to the huge demand for rapid tests.
Expedited work permit renewals for immigrant healthcare workers
US Citizen and Immigration Services has announced it will expedite work permit applications for healthcare workers who:
- have a pending renewal application
- AND whose current work permit has expired or is expiring within 30 days
If you meet those criteria, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to request expedited processing.