PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With omicron surging across the nation, new isolation guidelines and preventative care measures are being implemented, and hospitals in Oregon are following suit.
This new guidance according to officials is a contingency plan which ensures that we still have enough workers to keep the economy moving especially in places such as hospitals, including Providence and Legacy Health in Oregon.
Just before Christmas, the CDC shortened the recommended isolation time for health care workers who test positive for COVID. It went from 10 days to seven days. Now, the CDC says healthcare workers that test positive can return to work after five days — even if they still have mild symptoms
Hospitals will be able to have adequate staffing, but it also means healthcare workers that still have mild symptoms can return to work five days after testing positive.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” said Dave Northfield with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “Hospitals are really struggling.”
Providence sent an email to its staff Thursday which said in part staff shortages cause a greater threat to patient safety than allowing people to return to work wearing appropriate PPE, so they can provide needed services.
KOIN 6 reached out to Legacy Health about the CDC Guidelines. Their response:
“Safety is our number one priority at Legacy. Like many other health systems, Legacy is making this change to ensure that we have enough physicians and nurses at work when you need us whether that’s to treat you for COVID-19 symptoms, everyday emergencies or preventative care.”
Along with new isolation times, health experts say individuals need to upgrade their face masks. The cloth masks many have been wearing since March of 2020 may not be good enough anymore.
When the pandemic first started it was nearly impossible to even find a surgical mask — let alone one more advance. Now that masks are more widely available, doctors with the Mayo Clinic say that cloth masks and gaiters simply cannot do enough when compared to other types.
Cloth masks are only capable of stopping large droplets — not small ones. However, experts say any mask is better than none.
Transmission time varies depending on what types of mask the two individuals are wearing, and when people are not wearing a mask officials say it only takes 15 minutes to transmit COVID.
Those wearing cloth masks have the shortest transmission window of those masked, with experts saying it takes 27 minutes to transmit COVID between two people wearing cloth masks. While it takes 25 hours for COVID to transmit between individuals that are both wearing N95 masks.
Senator Bernie Sanders is currently working on legislation trying to get three N95 masks to everyone in America. That bill is currently sponsored by 15 people in the senate and 30 in the house.