Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary C. Turner, RN, today released the following statement in response to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines which slash recommended isolation periods and do not require a negative test to end isolation. The new guidelines also no longer require health care workers who are exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine if they are vaccinated and boosted. These new policies come as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Minnesota and nationwide, including infections from the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
“This new policy will be a disaster for nurses and other essential workers on the frontlines. It may be good for businesses’ bottom lines to push their employees back to work faster, but it will put nurses, other workers, and the public at greater risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus.
"Hospital executives and other employers are not short on workers because of COVID-19 safety measures, but because of the deliberate choices these companies have made to put their bottom line ahead of their employees. In our hospitals, CEOs have short-staffed nurses for decades to cut costs, leaving fewer nurses to care for more and sicker patients.
“To retain nurses and other workers, CEOs need to put the health and safety of employees and the public first. It is past time to listen to the voices of those on the frontlines and ensure adequate PPE, paid COVID leave without a doctor’s note, strong public health measures, and reasonable staff levels and workplace support.
“If the federal government is serious about ending this pandemic and saving lives, they must listen to workers instead of CEOs and reconsider this dangerous policy which will extend the pandemic for nurses, frontline workers, and the public and worsen the retention crisis which CEOs have created. If the CDC does not reverse this dangerous decision, the State of Minnesota must act to uphold a standard which will better protect the health and safety of all.”
A COVID ICU nurse at North Memorial Hospital, Turner also served as the only frontline healthcare worker on President Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force which urged strong protections for frontline workers in its final recommendations. MNA joins other unions including the Association of Flight Attendants and the Chicago Teachers Union who have criticized the new guidelines for putting corporate interests ahead of worker and public welfare.