North Dakota allows health workers who are COVID-19 positive to return to work

WINNIPEG — Manitoba has reported 9,308 cases of COVID-19 since the first case was discovered in March.

According to Shared Health, 403 healthcare workers and first responders have tested positive for COVID-19 as of November 9. When workers test positive, they are sent home until they can safely return to work.

Across the border in North Dakota, healthcare workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 are now allowed to return to work, following a new order issued on Monday by Governor Doug Burgum.

Under the order, healthcare workers who are COVID-positive, but asymptomatic, can return to work, but can only work with COVID-19 patients, and if they take precautions. The move is in line with crisis guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Burgum said hospitals throughout the state are activating surge protocols because of staffing shortages, with the entire state now in the high-risk category.

“When a healthcare worker is tested, and their test gets sent away, it could be 24 to 48 hours before they get a response to find out if they’re positive or negative,” he said. “Meanwhile, during that waiting period, they’re effectively on the sideline.”

Burgum said hospitals are under enormous pressure right now, and the change was something the hospitals requested. He said in a news release, hospitals throughout the state could have severe constraints in the coming weeks.

COVID-19 hospitalizations now account for 14 per cent of hospitalizations in North Dakota.

Under the new high-risk designation, restaurants, bars, and event centres in the state are recommended to operate at 25 per cent capacity, but there is no penalty for those not following the guidance.

As of Wednesday, North Dakota has reported a total of 57,373 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started. There are currently 11,656 active cases, and 45,031 people are listed as recovered.

The death toll from COVID-19 in North Dakota is 686.

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