Nurses protest California ruling allowing COVID-positive nurses to work

Nurses across southern California are participating in a national "day of action" Thursday to speak out against working conditions amid the latest surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Specifically in California, nurses are speaking out against a recent change in guidance from the California Department of Public Health which would allow healthcare providers who've tested positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic to return to work.

"Everybody's overwhelmed because nurses are getting sick," one registered nurse at Dignity Health California Hospital in downtown LA told FOX11. "If we have a sick nurse that cannot take care of a patient how are we going to take care of those patients?"

Thursday's demonstrations are part of National Nurses United's national day of action.

RELATED: Biden to send COVID-19 medical teams to 6 states struggling with omicron surge

The state health department issued new guidance for healthcare workers on Jan. 8. The new guidance is in effect from now through Feb. 1, and allows any healthcare personnel who test positive for COVID to return to work immediately, without isolation or quarantine, as long as they are asymptomatic. They will however need to wear an N95 mask.

The typical guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stipulates that fully vaccinated and boosted personnel isolate for at least five days depending on the outcome of a diagnostic test, but because of the surge of cases, that guidance has been waived in California.

RELATED: California governor says help is on the way for state's fatigued healthcare workers

Hospitals are one of the many industries facing staffing shortages lately due to the pandemic. During a visit to southern California Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed some of those concerns. According to Newsome, As nearly 2,400 contracted staff members have been hired at the state’s hospitals within recent weeks, and 1,250 more are on their way.

Nurses however say that staffing has been an issue throughout the entire pandemic. "It's been bad the whole time. The problem is we do not have enough staff to take care of the patients," that same nurse told FOX11. "We've been saying it all along."

According to numbers released Wednesday, there are more than 3,9000 patients currently in Los Angeles County hospitals with COVID-19.

RELATED: LA County COVID hospitalizations push near 4,000

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.