Phase Out of May 18th County Health Order In Light of New Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Workplace Regulations and Widespread Vaccination

June 21, 2021

Santa Clara County, CA In light of the newly adopted workplace regulations issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (commonly known as Cal/OSHA), Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara, announced the phase out of the May 18, 2021 Local Health Order.  The new Cal/OSHA workplace regulations do not require workers who are “fully vaccinated” to wear face coverings, among many other changes that reflect the efficacy and safety that vaccination provides. 

“The evidence is increasingly clear that getting fully vaccinated is the best thing you can do to keep yourself, your family, and our community safe from COVID-19,” said Dr. Sara Cody. “The vaccines work well, even against variants, but it is important to get your second dose if you’re getting a two-dose vaccine because that second dose makes a real difference.  If you are not fully vaccinated it is important to continue to wear face coverings indoors.  But if you are among the 70% of those age 12 and older in Santa Clara County who are fully vaccinated, you generally do not need to wear a face covering.”

Under the new Cal/OSHA regulations, an employee is considered “fully vaccinated” if the employer has documentation reflecting that the employee completed their vaccination series at least 14 days ago (e.g., 14 days after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine). 

The May 18th Local Health Order requires all businesses and governmental entities in Santa Clara County to determine the vaccination status of their personnel, such as by way of a simple self-attestation.  It does not require reporting of that information to the County, and it allows individuals the ability to “decline to state” their status, although they are then treated as unvaccinated.  Cal/OSHA has explained in FAQs that a self-attestation like that permitted under the May 18th Local Health Order is sufficient documentation to implement its new regulations.

Under today’s order, the May 18, 2021 Local Health Order is rescinded, except for those businesses or governmental entities who have not yet completed two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status of their personnel—a first round for all personnel and a second round for those who did not indicate they were fully vaccinated.  For those entities, once the second round is complete, the May 18th Order does not apply to them either.  All entities must maintain their records of compliance for the duration of the Cal/OSHA regulations.  Today’s order also includes recommendations to continue to keep the community safe from COVID-19: (1) get vaccinated; (2) continue to emphasize outdoor activities; (3) avoid travel if you’re not fully vaccinated; and (4) continue to regularly test for COVID-19 if you’re not fully vaccinated and, regardless of vaccination status, get immediately tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

“We are pleased that the County’s proactive vaccine ascertainment effort now allows employers in our community the ability to legally implement the new Cal/OSHA regulations,” said James R. Williams, County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara.  “With today’s announcement, once an entity has completed its second ascertainment of vaccination status, everyone should continue to follow the State’s rules, but there are no broader local health orders in effect in Santa Clara County.”

Under the State’s rules, face coverings are still required—regardless of vaccination status—in healthcare settings; at schools, childcare, and youth settings; on public transit; in jails and correctional facilities; and at homeless and emergency shelters.

Santa Clara County has the nation’s highest vaccination rate among large counties, and one of the highest vaccination rates among all counties, according to CDC data.  As of June 20, 2021, 80% of residents aged 12 and older have received their first dose, and over 71% of residents aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated.


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