Medical Professionals Weigh In On State’s Decision Allowing COVID-Positive Nurses, Staff To Continue Working

Thursday, November 26th 2020, 6:40 pm
By: Erick Payne

Some medical professionals are pushing back on the state's decision to allow COVID-positive nurses and staff to continue working as long as they aren't showing symptoms.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health said hospitals and staff should try other methods first.

Some medical professionals agree with the health department's latest guidelines letting asymptomatic workers continue working even after they test positive for COVID-19.

But they emphasize only as a last resort, and even then, they're wary of the idea.

In a press conference this week by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition, medical professionals are torn between OSDH's new guidelines.

"I think it's mixed messaging to the public to allow asymptomatic COVID positive nurses, physicians, and other health care workers to work," Oklahoma Nurses Association Exec. Director Jane Nelson said.

She said those workers should be home quarantining like everyone else who tests positive.

"I'm not so sure how health care employers are able to separate asymptomatic positive COVID workers from those who aren't COVID positive," Nelson said.

Nelson points to common areas in hospitals and nursing homes like hallways, restrooms, and supply rooms as problem spots. She said it could unnecessarily increase the spread of COVID-19.

"There's just not a way to mitigate or allow someone who's COVID positive to work alongside somebody who's not," Nelson said.

Oklahoma State Medical Association President George Monks said the state should try other paths to lower the spread instead.

"That should be a last resort. There's some other mitigation efforts that we could do before we go to the last resort," Monks said.

OSDH said hospitals and nursing homes should instead recruit more staff, hire temporary staff, or transfer patients to other care centers with adequate staff.

See the full guidelines from the Oklahoma State Department of Health below.