Contingency and Crisis Capacity Strategies to Mitigate Staffing Shortages

COVID-19; Workforce
In light of the continued COVID-19 Delta surge and the Omicron variant rapidly spreading across the country, there may be large numbers of staff who test positive. Therefore, it is important to review the contingency and crisis capacity strategies to help mitigate staffing shortages created by staff testing positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides strategies to facilitate staffing models to meet resident needs. The CDC’s mitigation strategies offer a variety of options for addressing staffing shortage. Contingency and then crisis capacity strategies expand conventional strategies and are meant to be considered and implemented in order. Facilities must understand their staffing needs and the minimum number of staff needed to provide a safe work environment and safe resident care. Facilities should be in communication with local healthcare coalitions, federal, state, and local health partners to identify additional HCP when needed. 

Contingency Capacity Strategies to Mitigate Staffing Shortages
Crisis Capacity Strategies to Mitigate Staffing Shortages
  • ​Implement regional plans to transfer residents with COVID-19 to designated health care facilities or alternate care sites with adequate staffing. 
  • Allow asymptomatic HCP who are not fully vaccinated and have had a higher-risk exposure to COVID-19 but are not known to be infected to continue to work onsite throughout their 14-day post-exposure period. 
  • If shortages continue despite other mitigation strategies, as a last resort consider allowing HCP with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection who are well enough and willing to work but have not met all Return to Work Criteria to work. 
    • If this strategy is used, it is important to ensure all people are wearing source control well-fitting masks, social distance, separate themselves from others to fullest extent possible, and self-monitor for symptoms including seeking re-evaluation if symptoms recur or worsen. 
​Contingency and Crisis Capacity Strategies should be communicated to local and state health departments and document all communications to/from health departments including any requests for additional staffing supports and their responses to such requests. For these situations, you may ask the state or local epidemiologist if there are strategies to allow staff who test positive to return to work before 10 days.