Michigan hospital employees exposed to COVID-19 told to come to work if asymptomatic

Several Michigan health systems have told employees that if they had close or household contact with someone who has COVID-19, they are still expected to report to work until they get their test results, according to the Detroit Free Press

Michigan Medicine, Beaumont Health, Munson Healthcare and other systems have enacted this policy for exposed employees who are asymptomatic. 

The systems say the policy is necessary to avoid staffing shortages. They also point to guidance from the CDC, which outlines "contingency capacity strategies for healthcare facilities," including allowing asymptomatic health care workers "who have had an unprotected exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) but are not known to be infected to continue to work."

Systems say COVID-19 test results turn around within 24 to 48 hours, but those results can take up to five days in areas where testing shortages are causing delays, including at Munson Healthcare. Munson has instructed employees to report for work even if "asked to quarantine by your local health department," as long as they have no symptoms and are awaiting test results. 

At Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, workers who have "high-risk exposures" to COVD-19 are quarantined for seven days and tested on the seventh day. If their results are negative, they can return to work the following day, a system spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press. In the last week, 169 of 900 employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to a system media briefing Nov. 20.

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