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COVID Tests Now Mandatory For Patients Admitted To California Acute-Care Hospitals

SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) - Starting Monday, patients admitted to California hospitals will have to be tested for COVID-19, and soon, so will health care workers who come in contact with them.

The California Department of Public Health informed hospitals last week that all patients admitted to acute-care hospitals, starting Monday, must be tested for COVID-19, according to a statement from the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. Starting December 14, all health care workers at hospitals must be tested each week as well. Testing of high-risk personnel can begin on December 7.

It's a move that California nurses have reportedly been demanding since the start of the pandemic, according to a National Nurses United spokesperson.

"This testing requirement has been a long time coming," said Cathy Kennedy, a Sacramento-area RN and a president of CNA and executive vice president of NNU. "We nurses knew this was needed and fought together to make it happen. Now hospitals in the rest of the country just need to do the same to get this virus under control."

The organizations define health care employees as:

"all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials, including body substances (e.g., blood, tissue, and specific body fluids); contaminated medical supplies, devices, and equipment; contaminated environmental surfaces; or contaminated air. HCP include, but are not limited to, emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the healthcare facility, and persons not directly involved in patient care, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the healthcare setting (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel)."

Health officials are preparing for a wave of virus cases over the next two or three weeks that could be linked to Thanksgiving gatherings. Authorities had urged residents to stay home and limit their interactions with others, but millions nationwide defied the advice.

More from CBS Sacramento:

California has had nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 19,121 virus-related deaths.

The state reported 7,415 coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday, citing the most recently available data from the previous day. More than 1,700 of those patients are in intensive care units. The number of hospitalizations broke the state's previous record of 7,170 in July.

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