COVID-19-positive nurses in North Dakota get OK to keep working amid staffing shortage

Healthcare workers in North Dakota with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases can continue working in COVID-19 hospital units and nursing homes, reports Forum News Service.  

The state's interim health officer, Dirk Wilke, revised an order to allow the measure, Gov. Doug Burgum said Nov. 9 at a local news conference. The move would pose little risk of spread, as infected nurses and physicians wear personal protective equipment and would only care for patients who already have the virus, Mr. Burgum said. The revision is part of the CDC's crisis guidelines to mitigate staffing shortages and comes as the state confronts increased hospitalizations and maximum bed capacity. 

Department of health spokespersons told Forum News Service they were unaware of any other states that have taken this step. North Dakota also plans to reallocate more nurses to hospitals by hiring emergency medical personnel and paramedics to administer testing operations, freeing more nurses of the responsibility. 

"COVID-19 positive nurses have the right to choose whether they are well enough to work," the American Nurses Association said in a response to the measure. "Under no circumstances should a nurse be pressured to work, and employers should never retaliate against nor penalize a nurse for choosing to prioritize self-care." 


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