Arizona Provider OKs Virus-Positive Hospital Workers

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PHOENIX (AP) — A major health care provider in Arizona will allow employees who are experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms or are asymptomatic to keep working at its hospitals and facilities.

Because of the omicron variant’s rapid spread in Maricopa County and in anticipation of a continued increase, Dignity Health officials said they have enacted the “third tier” of the federal guidelines for health care workers with the coronavirus.

“These guidelines allow COVID-19 positive health care personnel who are asymptomatic or improving with mild symptoms to work without a quarantine period,” Dignity Health officials said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to ensure our employees can safely return to work while protecting our patients and staff from the transmissibility of COVID-19.”

A memo sent to Dignity Health staff members said those who are infected with coronavirus and feel well enough to work may request clearance to work from their manager.

However, those employees would need to wear an N-95 mask for 10 days after they tested positive.

The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.

Though early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness and hospitalization than the previous delta variant, hospitals statewide remain crowded.

Health officials in Arizona on Sunday reported 69 more deaths from COVID-19 as the omicron variant continued to spread.

The state also reported 15,850 additional confirmed infections.

That followed Saturday’s total of 88 deaths and 16,504 cases, the most Arizona cases reported in one day in a year.

The state has tallied less than 1.5 million cases and under 25,000 deaths during the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases tripled over the past two weeks from 2,945.6 on Dec. 23 to 9,091.6 on Thursday.

The state’s rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 60.9 to 55.3 during the same period.

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