As at least 9,000 healthcare workers nationwide have tested positive for the coronavirus, some hospitals are missing essential workers at an important time to treat those ill with the virus.
But one thing that could slow down the process is a lack of available testing.
Despite President Donald Trump saying that tests are available nationwide, tests in some locales are tougher to come by. This is especially true for healthcare workers when they're able to return to work.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert and a member of the White House's coronavirus task force, said that the US has enough supply of available tests, but getting them to where the demand is requires better communication.
For healthcare workers able to access testing following a COVID-19 positive test, the return to work could come faster. Healthcare workers simply need to be without a fever and have two negative COVID-19 tests that are at least 24 hours apart.
But the guidelines for workers unable to get retested are different, according to the CDC. For healthcare workers unable to get retested, they must go 72 hours without a fever, and a total of seven days since the onset of symptoms.
The CDC offers the following guidelines to healthcare workers once they return to work:
- Wear a facemask for source control at all times while in the healthcare facility until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer. A facemask instead of a cloth face covering should be used by these HCP for source control during this time period while in the facility. After this time period, these HCP should revert to their facility policy regarding universal source control during the pandemic.
- A facemask for source control does not replace the need to wear an N95 or higher-level respirator (or other recommended PPE) when indicated, including when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Of note, N95 or other respirators with an exhaust valve might not provide source control.
- Be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant, hematology-oncology) until 14 days after illness onset
- Self-monitor for symptoms, and seek re-evaluation from occupational health if respiratory symptoms recur or worsen.
Earlier this week, the CDC said that more than 9,200 healthcare workers nationally have tested positive for COVID-19. The CDC's data was as of April 9.