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Rhode Island says COVID-positive staff can return to work at hospitals and nursing homes to solve ‘staffing crisis’

A sign at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI is pictured on April 25, 2019.

Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

  • Rhode Island says COVID-positive staff can return to work at hospitals and nursing homes.
  • If asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, healthcare workers can work to solve a staffing “crisis,” the state said.
  • The guidelines match a CDC memo from December saying COVID-positive staffers can work in a crisis.

Rhode Island’s Department of Health has said that hospital and nursing home staff who test positive for COVID-19 can return to work to solve a staffing “crisis” if needed.

A quarantine and isolation guidance updated by the state’s health department on December 31 said there are no restrictions “with prioritization considerations (e.g., asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic)” in a crisis situation for vaccinated and unvaccinated staffers. 

“Crisis staffing means there are no longer enough staff to provide safe patient/resident care,” the memo said. 

A spokesperson for Rhode Island’s Department of Health did not immediately confirm to Insider if any hospitals or nursing homes have reached a “crisis” level yet.

The memo from Rhode Island matches Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance from December 23 that allows healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 to work in a crisis situation.

All healthcare workers in Rhode Island were required from October 1 to be vaccinated, the state has said, unless they have a medical exemption.

According to Rhode Island’s health department, the state’s three-day average for positive COVID-19 cases is 3,402 cases a day.

The nation rang in the new year by facing a surge in cases led by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and is averaging over 280,000 COVID-19 cases a day, according to CDC data from last week.   

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