NORFOLK, Va. — Throughout the last two years, healthcare workers have seen plenty of COVID-19 case surges as they tirelessly work to save lives.
Some health officials are bracing for another uptick after the holidays.
"I think our healthcare system partners are very well aware that there may be post-holiday surges. That's probably the most dangerous thing if you will at the larger level is surges that are big enough to challenge or overwhelm the healthcare system," said Eastern Shore Health District Director Dr. Richard Williams back in November.
On top of rising cases, hospitals are also facing another battle: staffing shortages.
"Some people have called this the great resignation, the great attrition, the turnover tsunami," CHKD Chief Nursing Officer Karen Mitchell told us back in October.
But that’s nothing new. Mitchell said stress and burnout were contributing to people leaving healthcare.
"People are exhausted, nurses and other clinic staff too are working more overtime. picking up working that extra shift," she said at the time.
The CDC is taking steps to alleviate some of those staffing shortages.
Earlier this week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency is looking at data to see if it will ease the CDC's current COVID-19 isolation guidelines.
Now, they’ve done that for healthcare workers.
Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic can return to work after seven days with a negative test. The CDC says that time can be cut down even more if there are staffing shortages.
If they’ve been exposed, but haven’t tested positive, healthcare workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home.
“As the healthcare community prepares for an anticipated surge in patients due to Omicron, CDC is updating our recommendations to reflect what we know about infection and exposure in the context of vaccination and booster doses. Our goal is to keep healthcare personnel and patients safe, and to address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities. Our priority, remains prevention—and I strongly encourage all healthcare personnel to get vaccinated and boosted," Walensky said in a statement.
The updated guidance comes as airlines are asking for those same guidelines to apply to their staff.
Thousands of flights were canceled on Christmas Eve because of staffing shortages.
The CDC says they will continue to evaluate isolation and quarantine recommendations for the broader population as they learn more about the Omicron variant.