By minimizing COVID self-isolation time, CDC will move to commercial

CDC’s decision about halves the self-isolation period for COVID-positive healthcare workers and the rest of the essential workforce who are being upended by unions representing that workforce and the occupational health professionals they trust judgment.

The policy, which doesn’t even require a negative test to return to work, has been called “reckless” by public health experts interviewed by public health experts. Boston Globe.

Curiously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the quarantine requirement from ten days to five days after several notable worker shortages. First, yes cancel thousands of flights due to a labor shortage that started before Christmas, making the news big on the headlines. But amid that backdrop, a nationwide shortage of health care workers has come as tens of thousands of essential workers have been left aside due to infection with the super-contagious omicron variant.

Three strikes

For frontline unions, the CDC’s submission to business interests is just one of a long line of examples of the CDC’s egregious disregard for workers. From the very beginning, the nation’s top public health agency famously directed nurses to skip their infectious disease control training and reuse their N-95 masks for days.

At the time, nurse associations predicted three things would happen: their members would get sick, more people would die, and hospitals themselves would become vectors for the virus. All three things happened.

Move to May of this year, when the CDC decided to lift the general mask wearing requirement for vaccinations in public indoor places. The same nurses unions, joined by frontline retail unions, have begged the CDC to reconsider. They rightly point out that too many countries are unvaccinated; that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus; and that the CDC’s mission change, taking place under the guise of “opening[ing] economy,” would actually help spawn more variation.

These front-line experts, whose real-world experience has always been ignored by public health authorities, warn that the lifting of universal mask-wearing regulations has fostered a sense of invincibility for the the public and obscure the important medical fact that vaccinated people can transmit the virus.

What happened next?

In a short time, delta variant gained attention and within a few weeks the CDC was revisiting the matter – suggesting that even vaccinated people consider a cover-up after consulting their local county’s transmission rates .

Now, the same agency has consistently ignored healthcare unions that want to make sure the nation’s hospitals have enough COVID-fodder and bodies in the sky to keep America afloat no matter what. . And so it seems they’ve calculated that the combined risk of spreading COVID by radically reducing quarantine periods for these essential workers is worth doing if it makes hospitals and Airports are always noisy.

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For unions from New York and New York City, with veteran members of their NYPD ranks, FDNY and scores of other agencies, this reverence for commerce is uncanny similar to what the Bush administration’s EPA and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani put forth when they promoted the false notion that air it’s safe to breathe around Manhattan to make sure the Street Wall opens quickly after 9/11 WTC attack.

The nurse ignores

“New York State Nurses Association [NYSNA] condemns recent emergency guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as potentially endangering healthcare workers and the communities we serve,” said Pat Kane, a registered nurse and is the executive director of the writing association.” This guideline is not consistent with proven science. , are vague and provide no definition or interpretation of standards at a time when decision-making for the health care system is critical. “

Kane continued: “CDC’s ‘contingency’ strategies for ‘when staffing shortages are anticipated,’ allow vaccinated healthcare workers at higher risk of exposure to continue working and Infected medical staff can work after 5 days”, as long as they are well enough. . ‘”

According to NYSNA, the infection rate of healthcare workers is not even tracked; as they write, “there is no substantial evidence behind the CDC changing this guidance. But there is a health care staffing crisis that the CDC cited as justifying it.”

Death and COVID are not an abstract concept for NYSNA.

Union lost estimates 40 members for viruses. They are part of the list, which Guardians and Health News Kaiser created last April, includes the names of the 3,600 healthcare workers estimated to have died in the first year of the pandemic.

“One key finding: two-thirds of the deceased healthcare workers for whom we have data identified as people of color, revealing profound inequalities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status. economy in the US healthcare workforce,” the newspaper reported. “Lower-paid workers who take on day-to-day care of patients, including nurses, support staff and nursing home workers, are at much higher risk of dying during the pandemic. compared to doctors.”

Our federal government has no idea how many essential workers have died from exposure to their occupation, and certainly does not know how many thousands languish in chronic, long-distance COVID deaths. had to fight the owners who rejected them Worker Comp request.

Leadership from HPAE, Health Professionals and Allied Employees, New Jersey’s largest healthcare union, blasted the CDC’s lowering of COVID quarantine standards and ordering the Department of Health and Safety All Occupations of the United States Department of Labor follow. The union rightly sees that the latest moves on behalf of leadership will accelerate career exits, further hampering the ability of the entire health care system to weather the wave. next – or next pandemic.

Indeed, our national healthcare system is so deeply rooted in the ideology of market capitalism that it thrives on the scarcity it fosters, which is entirely stimulated. operated by the defenders of the Beltway. This sick and brutal system takes away the scarcity of N-95, COVID tests and now reduces the time it takes healthcare and essential workers to heal themselves from the virus. withdrawals they make in serving us.

Send the army

The system is slowly falling apart, and only those who work for it continue to resist calling for it because of how broken it all is.

“COVID omicron variant “It is a highly contagious and infectious virus that, as cases are rapidly increasing, threatens to overwhelm hospitals in our state,” HPAE said in a statement. In fact, support from the National Guard and FEMA has been called upon for our hospitals that are struggling to meet the requirements of the increased census. ”

The statement continued, criticizing CDC and OSHA for not adequately protecting them.

“Nearly two years after the start of this pandemic, healthcare workers are seeing many of the same protective measures from both CDC and OSHA,” the statement read.

HPAE commented: “It is counter-intuitive to get workers back to work earlier to ease staffing shortages. “It will only lead to more illness, burnout, stress and having to leave work. Healthcare workers and patients are both at risk. In a spike, it’s time for more to come. more protective measures.”

Scarcity = sickness + death

Lieutenant Vinnie Variale is president of DC 37’s Local 3621, which represents emergency medical services (FDNY) personnel of the New York City Fire Department (EMS). Several FDNY EMS members have died from COVID along with nearly 400 New York City workers.

The Fire Department confirms that nearly 20 percent of its EMS members are free of the disease; Variale estimates half of that squad is suffering from COVID. Meanwhile, call volume continued to increase as omicrons raged.

“It’s clearly been the case that whenever they’re in short supply, they choose to disregard our safety,” Variale said of the CDC’s latest guidance. “Now they see a labor shortage in the healthcare industry, nurses, doctors, EMTS and medical staff so they are cutting the quarantine period from ten days to five days. It’s convenient. profit.”

Variale continued: “When you start cutting your safety standards so transparently, a scientific body like the CDC loses its credibility. those of us who prepare for a pandemic like us. Their failure is now on the shoulders of people, like my members, who will continue to face these risks to themselves and even their families. .”

Charlene Obernauer is executive director of the New York Occupational Safety and Health Commission, a nonprofit advocacy group supported by unions and occupational health professionals.

“We looked at the science behind this policy [shift] and having these shorter periods of isolation doesn’t seem to fit with the science,” Obernauer said in a recent phone interview.

Obernauer continued. “In our view, when our front-line healthcare workers get COVID, they burn out. They have all of this stress in their laps and our response is to shorten the span. the time that someone recovers from illness after they have COVID. a way to support healthcare workers who have given everything to keep our community doing everything it can to keep us safe.”

“We said We want to hear from medical professionals Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, CWA, wrote in a statement. The agency decided to reduce the quarantine requirements from 10 to 5 days, but the fact that it matches the number of days pushed by the US company could not be more reassuring. ”

Nelson is particularly infuriated by how “pandemic fatigue” has led to “pandemic longevity decisions” by putting workers at risk.

“The lack of paid sick leave has created pressure on workers to come to work when sick,” says Nelson. “Companies that don’t realize this with paid sick leave, or pressure workers to come to work sick or face disciplinary action, will frustrate their workers and customers. not important. “

Nelson continued. “After more than 800,000 funerals, millions have suffered the consequences of protracted COVID, our hospitals are too numerous to receive the medical treatment they need, and frontline workers are faced with violent attack is simply working to keep people safe, can we finally take this pandemic seriously and do what needs to be done to end it? We will isolate ourselves from the world if we don’t lead in safety. “

Read more about frontline workers during the pandemic: By minimizing COVID self-isolation time, CDC will move to commercial

Caroline Bleakley

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