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UChicago Medicine Brings Furloughed Workers Back, Requires All Employees To Wear Masks

The university furloughed asymptomatic workers who were exposed to the disease or recently traveled to a country with "high infection rates."

University of Chicago Medical Center
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HYDE PARK — University of Chicago Medicine will bring back workers temporarily laid off due to coronavirus precautions and require all employees to wear masks in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The university furloughed asymptomatic workers known to have been exposed to the disease or who had recently traveled to a country with “high infection rates.”

Starting Friday, asymptomatic workers will be brought back, as the furlough policy “no longer provides the right level of protection for patients and other staff.”

Employees with respiratory or flu-like symptoms, a fever or who have tested positive for COVID-19 are prohibited from working until cleared to return.

All employees must wear “some type of facemask when working on the medical campus,” whether that be N95, surgical or cloth masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Infection list cloth masks as an appropriate alternative during “crisis situations.”

Crises require “strategies that are not commensurate with U.S. standards of care” but “may need to be considered during periods of known facemask shortages,” according to the CDC.

If cloth masks run low, employees will be issued a procedural mask until UChicago Medicine’s supplies are replenished, according to a press release.

“We are optimistic that having a universal masking policy, ending furloughs for asymptomatic employees, and practicing effective social distancing will mean we can protect our workforce from viral spread,” executive vice president for medical affairs Kenneth Polonsky said.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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