Health Department says no testing mandate for doctors exposed to coronavirus

The city’s Health Department will not require doctors potentially exposed to coronavirus be tested and cleared of the disease before returning to work, even if they have recovered from similar symptoms.

“Healthcare workers currently furloughed because of previous guidance may return to work if asymptomatic,” the city’s Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis wrote in guidance released to private and public medical providers Tuesday.

“New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene does not require healthcare workers to undergo quarantine or to have a negative test for COVID-19 to return to work,” Daskalakis said in the updated alert.

Previously doctors and other healthcare professionals who came into contact with someone who had coronavirus were told to self-isolate.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said healthcare facilities should consider allowing asymptomatic staff exposed to COVID-19 patients to work while wearing a surgical mask.

Workers should still check with their employer before returning to their jobs, he says.

“If you are a healthcare worker who has had a known high-risk exposure to a patient(s) with confirmed COVID-19, you should take extra care to monitor your health but can keep working. There is no requirement for 14 day quarantine of healthcare workers with high-risk exposures in the setting of sustained community transmission as we have in New York City,” Daskalakis says.

High-risk exposure includes an unmasked health care worker who’ve had prolonged close contact with a COVID-19 patient and providers who have been around “aerosol-generating” procedures like intubation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation without eye protection.

At the same time, Daskalakis said that limited supply of personal protective equipment meant the “use of surgical masks by asymptomatic exposed providers at work should be limited to those who have had known high-risk exposures or are involved in care of vulnerable patients,” which includes people over 50 and those with underlying illnesses like diabetes or heart and lung disease.

On Tuesday Mayor de Blasio mobilized the Medical Reserve Corps, a group of over 9,000 healthcare workers who volunteer to support the city during emergencies.

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