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State Releases Guidance On Medical Workers' Return To Work After Positive COVID Test

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- As COVID-19 omicron variant cases spike in California, state public health officials are modifying when medical professionals can return to work if they test positive, but only under certain conditions.

The California Department of Public Health released the guidance over the weekend reporting that if healthcare workers are asymptomatic then they can return to work without testing or isolating but must wear fit-tested N95 respirators.

The temporary guidance goes through February 1 and is meant to alleviate staffing shortages at medical facilities. However, the California Nurses Association is pushing back.

"We really believe what Governor Newsom and the DPH did by lowering the guidance is really putting everybody in danger," said Catherine Kennedy, a president of the association. "It's unconscionable."

Ultrasound technologist Georgette Bradford says there's concern workers will knowingly spread the virus.

"My initial reaction was shock and disbelief," said Georgette Bradford, who has worked for Kaiser Permanente for 18 years.

Her union, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers, is pushing for the state to reinstate COVID-19 leave while encouraging incentives for healthy colleagues to pick up additional shifts and explore remote work when possible.

Meanwhile, the spike in cases also has people resorting to a new use with at-home rapid tests. Typically, these tests are designed for a nasal swab, but can you do a throat swab?

UC Davis Health told Buzzfeed a sore throat swab can only be carefully collected – meaning too many things can go wrong if not done right.

For example, if you drink too many fluids beforehand washing away the virus or don't collect enough of it then you may get inaccurate tests results.

The best bet? Doctors say use a nasal swab.

If you tested negative but think you may have symptoms, then experts say see a doctor or get a PCR test. If you're positive, the virus will build up and make it easier for tests to detect.

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