Rhode Island healthcare workers who decided against the experimental COVID-19 vaccines were fired from their jobs last year. Because of staffing shortages, the progressive politicians in charge of the state are now allowing existing healthcare workers who have COVID infections to continue working.
Democratic Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee’s vaccine mandates resulted in hundreds of unvaccinated healthcare workers in the state being terminated last year. As a result, hospitals, nursing homes, medical clinics, and home healthcare agencies suffered critical staffing shortages.
Republican State Senator Jessica de la Cruz has said that the governor’s mandates and the resulting loss of highly trained and skilled workers who are challenging to replace created a healthcare crisis in the state.
In a memo issued last week, Eleanor Slater Hospital Administration told staff that they might continue to work even if they have tested positive for COVID-19 infection. Workers will be required to be asymptomatic and wear appropriate face coverings to continue working after a positive test.
The Rhode Island Department of Health issued updated restrictions for healthcare workers on December 31 applicable to hospital and skilled nursing home settings. The new guidelines expressly allow infected staff to continue working under “crisis.” A crisis is defined to include staffing shortages. Asymptomatic or “mildly symptomatic” workers are allowed to continue working.
The new policies sharply contrast public health messaging since early 2020, which provided for strict isolation of any person testing positive to prevent the spread of the virus.
Rhode Island Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said that the updated policies reflect a “national change.” He said that was based on recent updates to isolation guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He added that the unvaccinated are the “true danger” to public health and said states “around the country” are implementing similar guidelines.