COVID-19 cases among health care workers still climbing, but changing CDC guidelines could provide relief


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Health care workers, along with every workforce around the globe, are struggling as they get infected with COVID-19. Sixty additional employees at UNC Rex Hospital in Raleigh tested positive overnight, bringing the total to more than 260 currently quarantined and not at work.

“You don’t want to delay procedures too long because patients then become sicker and then they tie up a bed for a longer period of time, or they come in through your emergency department and again tie up the ED resources. So, we look at that on a day-by-day basis,” said UNC Rex Chief Medical Officer Dr. Linda Butler.

The staffing shortage should improve by Wednesday. Butler said the hospital will follow new CDC guidelines. They allow people to go back to work who may still test positive, but have had five days pass with no symptoms, including fever, as long as they’ve been vaccinated.

“If we’re closing beds because we don’t have health care workers who otherwise feel fine and are willing to come to work, they’re asymptomatic, we can bring them back wearing their personal protective equipment,” she said.

The decision includes non-clinical staff who are vital in keeping things running.

“Definitely having our environmental services co-workers being able to clean rooms and change beds, and even our information services folks. You know, the computers have to be running. So, you need everybody there,” Butler said.

Otherwise, Butler said at the rate employees are being infected outside of work things could become drastic.

“We have a workforce of 6,000 people here at Rex and at 60 a day pretty quickly, we would not be able to run normal operations if we were not able to do what the CDC is allowing,” she said.

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