After what is soon to become a full year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released new guidance for hospitals across the state. They are asking hospitals to test all healthcare workers on a weekly basis, no longer depending on whether or not they were exposed to a COVID-positive patient, or whether or not they are symptomatic. What is sounding like a revolutionary move on behalf of CDPH, should’ve been something implemented from the very beginning of this crisis that has disproportionately affected healthcare workers.
CDPH is also asking hospitals to provide universal testing for all patients admitted into hospitals. This is a long-needed change from the practice of testing only a few patients who are screened and deemed high risk. There have been many cases of patients who were not tested at the original time of admission who later developed symptoms and tested positive, by that time having already exposed many healthcare workers. Once again, a great idea but months too late.
While this call by the CDPH seems like a good step forward, the language that they use is one of “strongly recommending” hospitals to take these steps. Leaving it up to individual hospitals to decide whether or not they will protect workers and patients is not good enough. Now, it will depend on workers, with or without their unions, to organize to make sure that these guidelines are followed.