Nurses Oppose New CDC Rule Lowering Isolation Time for COVID-Positive Nurses

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

cdc-lowering-isolation-time.jpg.6ddab86a841d22dfb678cb516aae2adc.jpg

Many nurses have responded negatively to the new CDC guidelines for shortening isolation time for health care workers who test positive for COVID as it anticipates a surge in hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant. Healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 5 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages. “Healthcare workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures,” the CDC stated.

"This new policy will be a disaster for nurses and other essential workers on the frontlines," Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary C. Turner, RN, tweeted Dec. 29. "It may be good for businesses’ bottom lines to push their employees back to work faster, but it will put nurses, other workers, and the public at greater risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus."

What Do You Think?

Nurses Take to Twitter to Oppose Lowered Isolation Time Post-COVID

morelostthanfound, BSN

Specializes in CVOR/General/Transplant Surgery, and cat herding. Has 30 years experience. 276 Posts

Somehow, I would be shocked if the country's biggest hospital system conglomerates, ie; HCA Healthcare, CommonSpirit Health, Universal Health Services...weren't behind this latest CDC guideline.  This really is despicable and proves the point that if you throw enough money at the right people, you can move mountains.  Government agencies tasked with safeguarding the public is akin to the wolf guarding the henhouse.  Corporate health care=profits over patients all the way.

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 1,941 Posts

My hospital hasn't been requiring quarantine time for asymptomatic exposures since the first round of vaccinations was completed. Problem is some people have developed symptoms up to a week after the exposure. I also generally trust in science but think that there was great political/economic influence in this latest decision. The only thing I'm hoping for is that if the newer variants really do produce milder cases, maybe we'll get through without being completely over run. 

nursesunny

76 Posts

I think nurses need the same recovery and/or quarantine times as everyone else.  I understand that there is need but running me ragged post exposure is going to impact my ability to fight off the virus and will also make me more ill over the long term (if I do contract the virus).  I don't know why everyone's health is a priority EXCEPT nurses' health.  Reminds me of when I was having my last baby and had questions asked of me about what should be done on the floor I worked on (what would you do with mr. X, where do we keep the extra whatever).  

blushpink, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac, NICU, CCM. Has 12 years experience. 23 Posts

This is the kind of policy that continues to drive nurses away from the bedside. My feelings echo the same responses as above. I wanted to help clinically during COVID-19, but it appears that nurses are still being treated as dispensable.  

jbudrick, MSN

Specializes in Certified Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurse. Has 18 years experience. 91 Posts

The interesting thing about reducing the isolation time where I work has been that nurses are often still too sick to come into work.  

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,116 Posts

The statements in the OP are not correct:

Quote

Healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test

They can return to work after 5 days, and no negative test is required, per the CDC (individual facilities may have their own policies, but at this time a negative test is not required per the CDC guidelines, although many of us expect that guidance to change shortly).

Also, the guidance is not just for healthcare workers, it's for everyone.

My staff have responded favorably. We are not asking them to return if they're still feeling ill. These are for asymptomatic cases, or mild cases where the symptoms have improved. If they are still not feeling well enough to work, then they don't work. Those employees who have very mild cases that present like a cold and pass after a few days, appreciate that they don't have to burn through their sick and vacation time when they're well enough to work.

Edited by klone

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,116 Posts

15 hours ago, jbudrick said:

The interesting thing about reducing the isolation time where I work has been that nurses are often still too sick to come into work.  

Yep, and in those situations, the reduced isolation time doesn't matter because they should remain at home until their symptoms have improved and they're fever free for at least a day.

On 1/1/2022 at 9:52 PM, nursesunny said:

I think nurses need the same recovery and/or quarantine times as everyone else.  

First, it's "isolation" not "quarantine." Second, they are getting the same isolation time as everyone else. This updated guidance from the CDC applies to everyone, not just healthcare workers.

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,116 Posts

"Isolation" - what a person does while recovering from, or after testing positive to, Covid.

"Quarantine" - what a person does when they have been exposed and they're waiting to make sure they don't get ill. No longer required for fully immunized individuals.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 29 years experience. 2 Articles; 3,860 Posts

I got covid from my vaccinated kids over Christmas. We all had it. Health Dept called, said stay isolated 5 days from onset of symptoms,  wear a mask when going out for 5 more days.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg. 151 Articles; 5,856 Posts

3 hours ago, klone said:

The statements in the OP are not correct:

They can return to work after 5 days, and no negative test is required, per the CDC (individual facilities may have their own policies, but at this time a negative test is not required per the CDC guidelines, although many of us expect that guidance to change shortly).

Also, the guidance is not just for healthcare workers, it's for everyone.

 

Thank you for the update.  The information in the OP was based on the CDC report on December 23 that stated:

"Healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages."

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,116 Posts

Ah, so it was a flash in the pan recommendation that lasted all of 3 days, before an updated recommendation came out for everyone.

I think it's disingenuous/sensationalistic to write an article about it (especially since at the time of the writing of the article on 1/1, the recommendation was 5 days obsolete), emphasizing that it's a different recommendation for HCW, when it was so fleeting and was quickly overridden.

As evidenced by the responses here, it created quite a bit of misplaced righteous indignation.

Edited by klone