Rhode Island allows COVID-19 positive healthcare staff to work in 'crisis' situations

The Rhode Island Department of Health updated COVID-19 quarantine and isolation guidance Dec. 31, allowing asymptomatic healthcare workers who have tested positive to work without restriction in staffing "crisis" situations, as long as they wear N95 masks.

The guidance depends on a number of factors, including infection status, vaccination status and staffing status at specific facilities. In crisis situations, fully vaccinated and boosted workers have no restrictions while unvaccinated workers who have received religious exemptions can work with prior considerations. 

Upon changing staffing categories, healthcare facilities must notify the department by reporting to the Center for Health Facility Regulations. Hospitals and skilled nursing facilities shifting from "contingency" to "crisis" staffing must also post their staffing status and an explanation on their websites or other public-facing platforms.

"Facility administrators should be using their clinical judgment in making staffing decisions," Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken told The Providence Journal on Jan. 1. "For example, a facility may opt for a COVID-19 positive worker to only care for COVID-19 positive patients." 

Mr. Wendelken also told The Providence Journal the move mirrors a "national change," citing the updated CDC guidance from Dec. 23.


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