Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions

Last content update: 5/31/2021

 

Overview

UPDATE: On May 18, 2021, the County Health Officer issued a new order establishing focused safety measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many of the previous restrictions are no longer necessary because there is widespread vaccination and fewer cases of COVID-19 in the community. However, it is critical that more people get vaccinated and that unvaccinated people continue to take appropriate safety measures. Therefore, the new Order requires employers to determine who in a workplace has been fully vaccinated in order to comply with current and anticipated County and State rules related to COVID-19 safety in the workplace. The new Order goes into effect on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, when the county enters into the Yellow Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The new Order replaces the October 5, 2020 Revised Risk Reduction Order and retires many of its requirements, including the following:

  • Maximizing telework work is no longer required: Businesses are no longer required to maximize the number of people who work remotely.
  • Social Distancing Protocols are no longer required: Businesses and governmental entities are no longer required to submit Social Distancing Protocols to the County Public Health Department. Instead, they must comply with any State rules applicable to their business, including the Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Prevention Regulations applicable to most businesses.
  • The local Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations has been eliminated: There are no local rules related to capacity. For information on what is allowed in counties in the Yellow Tier, see the State Blueprint for a Safer Economy and the State’s Industry Guidance to Reduce Risk

The new order replaces the prior restrictions on activities with a few focused requirements related to vaccination, face coverings, and case reporting. They include:

 

Does the County’s move to the Yellow Tier mean there are no longer any COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County?

No. Even in the Yellow Tier,  the County continues to enforce County and State restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, while urging members of the public to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

All individuals, businesses, and entities in Santa Clara County must follow the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order, Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings, Mandatory Directive for Unvaccinated Personnel, and Mandatory Directive on Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs, as well as all applicable restrictions under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance, and any other State COVID-19 regulation or guidance document (such as the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings).

For more information regarding the State’s requirements, visit the State’s COVID-19 landing page, which links to the State’s BlueprintIndustry Guidance documents, About COVID-19 restrictions page, the California Department of Public Health’s website, and other resources. You may also call the State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 from Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, or Saturday, 8am to 5pm; or, you can email the State at [email protected].  Please note: The County is aware that the State sometimes responds to questions about State rules by instructing the questioner to ask the County for guidance.  While the County can and does provide guidance on its own public health orders, the County is unable to provide similar guidance on State rules.  The County did not write the State rules and has no more information about the State rules than what is publicly available.  The proper source of assistance in interpreting State rules is the State itself.

Which tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy are we in right now?

As of May 19, 2021, Santa Clara County is in the Yellow Tier (Tier Four) of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The Yellow Tier is the least restrictive tier in the Blueprint. The Blueprint and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance page provide information about the restrictions that apply to different types of businesses in the Yellow Tier.

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BUSINESSES

What are the main requirements that my business needs to comply with under the County’s May 18, 2021 Order?

The County Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order requires that all businesses and government entities follow a set of rules to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including:

  • Ascertainment of Vaccination Status: All businesses and government entities must ascertain the vaccination status of personnel and must comply with the rules for personnel who are not fully vaccinated, as required under section 9(c) and 9(d) of the County Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order.  See below under “Ascertainment of Vaccination Status” for details.
  • Face coverings: All businesses and government entities must require that their personnel (including employees, contractors, sub-contractors, independent contractors, vendors, volunteers, and other regular onsite service providers) and the public comply with the mandatory rules on the use of face coverings contained in the County’s Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings .  See below under “Face Coverings” for details. 
  • Positive case reporting: Businesses and governmental entities must require that all personnel immediately alert the business or governmental entity if they test positive for COVID-19 and were present in the workplace either (1) within the 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 10 days after onset of symptoms if they were symptomatic; (2) or within 48 hours prior to of the date on which they were tested or within 10 days after the date on which they were tested if they were asymptomatic.   If a business or governmental entity learns that any of its personnel is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 and was at the workplace in this timeframe,  it is  required to report to the Public Health Department within 24 hours at sccsafeworkplace.org. The business or government entity must also comply with all County contact tracing and case investigation measures.
  • Other State and County COVID-19 rules: All businesses and government entities must follow all other applicable COVID-19 rules in the County Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order, and the Mandatory Directive on Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs (if applicable), as well as all applicable restrictions under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance, and any other State COVID-19 regulation or guidance document (such as the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings).

Is my business still required to maximize telework under the County’s Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order?

No, businesses are no longer required to maximize telework.

Is my business still required to complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

No, the County’s Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order no longer requires any business or government entity to complete or submit  a Revised Social Distancing Protocol.  However, all businesses and government entities are still required to comply with all applicable State and County COVID-19 rules.

What capacity limitations apply to my business?

If an industry or activity has an applicable capacity limitation, that capacity limitation may be found on the State’s industry guidance page, the industry or activity-specific State guidance document, or the State’s Activity and Business Tiers chart.  Please be sure to check all applicable State guidance or regulations to determine any applicable capacity limitations for your industry or activity.  The County no longer has any capacity limitations rules beyond the State’s requirements.  Nevertheless, businesses are still responsible for making sure their facilities do not exceed any applicable State capacity limitations.  Failure to do so may lead to County enforcement action.

What are my obligations as an employer under Cal/OSHA’s emergency COVID-19 regulations?

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards seek to protect employees from COVID-19 in the workplace.  For more information regarding these State regulations, see Cal/OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions.  The County is unable to provide legal advice regarding how these regulations apply to your workplace, so you are encouraged to address such questions to your legal counsel.

I was contacted by someone who said they were enforcing the County Health Officer’s Order. How can I be sure that this person is authorized to conduct enforcement?

If you have questions about whether someone is authorized by the Health Officer to enforce the local and State Health Officers’ Orders, you can contact the Business Call Center at (408) 961-5500 and ask for confirmation. (Note: County Enforcement Officers will never ask for your credit card information or ask you to pay a fine or fee over the phone.)

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ASCERTAINMENT OF VACCINATION STATUS OF EMPLOYEES

Why are businesses and governmental entities required to ask about and record the vaccination status of their workers?

Vaccines are the most effective way to reduce transmission of COVID-19, and to prevent people from getting sick or dying from COVID-19.  The rules that businesses and governmental entities have to follow to protect workers from COVID-19 are different depending on whether a worker is vaccinated or not. Businesses and governmental entities need to know the vaccination status of their workers so they can follow the rules, and so they can keep their workers, customers, and the community safe.

What should businesses and governmental entities do to determine vaccination status of their workers?

Businesses and governmental entities must determine whether each of their employees (and any contractors or volunteers working in their facilities) is fully vaccinated or not. Businesses and governmental entities must have a record for each staff member reflecting that person’s vaccination status.  The record may document a business’s or governmental entity’s review of documentation establishing vaccination status (e.g., the employee’s vaccine card), or the employee’s completed Certification of Vaccination Status. A template Certification of Vaccination Status is available here.

I have a worker who won’t tell me whether they are vaccinated? What do I do?

You must document that the worker declined to disclose his or her vaccination status, assume that they are not fully vaccinated, and follow all the rules that apply to workers who are not fully vaccinated.

What is the deadline for determining the vaccination status of my workers?

You must request and document the vaccination status of all personnel no later than June 1, 2021.  For workers who were not fully vaccinated or declined to disclose their vaccination status, you are required to request updated vaccination status every 14 days thereafter (e.g., June 15, June 29, July 13, etc.).

Do businesses have to keep records of who is vaccinated and who is not?

Yes. Businesses and governmental entities must maintain records of who is vaccinated and who is not until the provision of the Order requiring ascertainment of vaccination status is no longer effective. Businesses and governmental entities must follow applicable rules related to the confidentiality of these records.

What happens if I don’t ask about the vaccination status of my workers?

Because businesses and governmental entities have to follow different rules for vaccinated as opposed to unvaccinated employees, all businesses must determine the vaccination status of their employees. Any business that fails to ask about and record the vaccination status of its workers is subject to enforcement, and may be required to pay fines of up to $5,000 per violation per day.

Do I have to ask about and record the vaccination status of my workers if they are working remotely?

You are required to determine the vaccination status of all workers who perform any work at a facility or worksite in the county. You are also strongly encouraged, but not required by the Order, to determine vaccination status for all other personnel.
 

Does HIPAA apply when an employer asks an employee for their vaccination status?

No.  HIPAA applies to certain entities, such as healthcare providers and health plans, and what protected health information they can share about their patients or members under what circumstances.  HIPAA does not govern what information employers may request from their employees. 

What confidentiality rules do employers need to follow when they collect and store information regarding employee vaccination status?

Generally, employers must treat this information the same way they treat other similar private information they receive from their employees, including, for example medical conditions for which they may request time off, etc. 

Do workers have to disclose their vaccination status to their employer?

Under the Health Order, employers must ask their employees for their vaccination status, but employees may decline to provide that information. The sample Certification Form specifically includes that option for employees.  If an employee declines to provide their vaccination status, the employer should assume the employee may be unvaccinated and follow State and local requirements for unvaccinated employees.

Do employers have to provide information regarding their employees’ vaccination status to the County Public Health Department?

No, employers do not provide this information to the County.  Instead, they are required to collect it and have it available to demonstrate their compliance with this requirement. 

Under what circumstances would an employer have to share employee vaccination information?

Generally, employee vaccination information is treated as confidential, but can be shared in certain instances.  For example, an employer may be asked to demonstrate compliance with the requirement related to employee vaccination status if the County receives information suggesting that the employer has not complied.  The State Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) may also request documentation from an employer demonstrating that they have complied with all of the requirements specific to employees who are vaccinated versus unvaccinated, and knowing which employees are vaccinated will allow employers to comply with those requirements. 

What is the simplest way to comply with the requirement to determine employees’ vaccination status?

Compliance with this requirement takes only a few simple steps.  One simple way for a business to comply is by doing the following:

  1. Provide staff members a copy of the one-page form the County has provided to assist businesses in meeting this requirement.  It should take employees no more than a minute or two to fill out the form.
  2. Collect the forms and store them in the same way you store confidential employee information like documents requesting medical leave, reasonable accommodations, etc.
  3. Provide employees who are not vaccinated or declined to state whether they are vaccinated an information sheet on vaccination, which is available here.

I have a contractor who is doing work at my business.  Do I have to determine the vaccination status of all the contractors’ employees?

You can rely on contractors to determine the vaccination status of their own employees, but you should confirm with your contractors that they are complying with this requirement.
 

I do not have any employees based in Santa Clara County.  However, some of my employees travel into the county infrequently for work.  Do I need to ascertain those employees’ vaccination status?

No.  You only have to determine vaccination status for workers who are based at worksites in Santa Clara County or who regularly work at worksites in the county.

 

I manage a non-profit with a large number of volunteers.  Some of these individuals volunteer regularly at our worksites in the county.  However, many of these people are one-time volunteers.  Do I have to ascertain the vaccination status for all of our volunteers?

You only have to determine vaccination status for volunteers who regularly work at worksites in the county.  Therefore, you would not have to ascertain the vaccination status for one-time volunteers.

 

My company owns a building in the county where our employees work.  We lease several floors to other businesses who have offices completely separate from my company’s office, other than common areas like the first floor lobby and elevators.  Is my company required to ascertain the vaccination status of the employees of those separate businesses?

If your company leases office space to other businesses that are completely separate from your own company’s office, you do not have to ascertain the vaccination status of your tenants’ employees.  But the tenant employer is responsible for ascertaining the vaccination status of its own employees.

 

I manage a grocery store in the county, and we have a vendor onsite who runs a small coffee counter inside the store.  Do I have to ascertain the vaccination status of the employees of that coffee counter? 

Yes, because the coffee vendor regularly provides goods and services in your business’s worksite, your business must ascertain the vaccination status of the vendor’s employees.  You can, however, rely on the vendor to determine its own employees’ vaccination status, if you confirm with the vendor that it is complying with this requirement. 


Sale representatives occasionally come into my business to market their products.  Does my office have to ascertain the vaccination status of these sales representatives?

If these  sales representatives do not work regularly in one of your offices, you are not obligated to ascertain their vaccination status.    

 

I requested vaccination status from all of my employees, but I’m concerned that not all of them will have responded by June 1st.  Will I be fined if not all have responded?

So long as a business is making appropriate, good faith efforts to gather vaccination status information for its personnel by the June 1st deadline, and is following up with individuals who did not respond, the business will be considered in compliance with the requirement.  Businesses should be similarly diligent in gathering this information as they would be in gathering information needed to comply with other legal requirements applicable to businesses—e.g., employee time sheets, payroll records, and W-9 and W-4 forms.
 

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STATE OF CALIFORNIA’S COVID-19 RULES

Where can I find the State’s rules for my industry or activity?

Visit the State’s “Industry guidance to reduce risk” web page to find the State’s rules for your industry or activity. Note that the rules for your industry or activity may be different depending on which tier of the State’s Blueprint the county is currently in. Depending on the industry or activity, more than one State industry guidance document may apply.

I don’t understand the State’s rules—who can I ask for help?

The County generally does not provide assistance understanding the State’s rules. For more information regarding the State’s requirements, visit the State’s COVID-19 landing page, which links to the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Industry Guidance documents, About COVID-19 restrictions page, the California Department of Public Health’s website, and other resources. You may also call the State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 from Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, or Saturday, 8am to 5pm. Email questions may be sent to [email protected].

Do the State and County have special rules for fully vaccinated persons?

Yes, the State and County are increasingly applying special COVID-19 rules to fully vaccinated persons.  For more information, consult the County's Mandatory Directive for Unvaccinated Persons and Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings, and the State’s COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, Addendum to Blueprint Activity & Business Tiers Chart – Tested and Fully Vaccinated Individuals and Sections, Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings, Updated Guidance for Gatherings, and Industry Guidance documents.

Under the State’s rules, what qualifies as an “outdoor facility”?

To be considered “outdoor,” a facility must meet the State’s definition of an “outdoor operation.”

Is the County enforcing the State’s rules?

Yes.

The State’s Industry Guidance page says that music, film, and TV production is permitted with approval from the County Public Health Officer. Is production allowed in Santa Clara County?

Yes, as long as everyone involved in a music, film, or television production follows all rules in the State Industry Guidance, other applicable State rules, and the County Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down.

As of May 11, 2021, the State of California’s “Industry guidance to reduce risk” page includes a section stating that “Music, TV, and film production may resume, subject to approval by county public health officers. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers must abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers. Production venues with seated live audiences must follow the guidance for live events and performances. Back office staff and management must follow the guidance for office workspace.”

As long as these productions comply with all applicable State and County rules, then they are approved in Santa Clara County.

The State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance and Youth Sports Q&A require teams returning to competition to coordinate with “local health authorities.” What coordination with the County Public Health Department is necessary to comply with this provision?

All teams (including individuals, businesses, and other entities) in Santa Clara County must follow the County Health Officer's May 18, 2021 Order, Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings (if applicable), Mandatory Directive on Unvaccinated Personnel, and the Mandatory Directive on Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs, as well as all applicable restrictions under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance (including the State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance and, if applicable, the Youth Sports Q&A), and any other State COVID-19 regulation or guidance document (such as the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings).  All applicable State and County COVID-19 rules must be followed, but the County Health Officer has made a determination that no additional coordination with the County’s Public Health Department is required. 

The State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance requires notice to “Local Health Departments” to engage in certain activities.  How do I give notice to the County Public Health Department?

Notice can be submitted via email to [email protected].  This email address is for submission of notice only, and you will not receive a response to this email.  The County Public Health Department does not provide or require approvals for specific athletic competitions or events.

The State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance and Youth Sports Q&A generally do not permit events or tournaments involving more than two teams, but allow certain exceptions for specified sports with “authorization from the local health department where the event is being held and each of the local health departments where teams originate from.” How do I obtain authorization from the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department?

The County Health Officer has granted authorization for events or tournaments involving more than two teams in all sports identified as exempt in the State’s guidance:  track and field, cross-country, golf, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, swimming, diving, surfing, biking, equestrian events, and any other sport “where individual competitors from multiple teams are routine.”  Such events or tournaments must still comply with all other applicable State and County COVID-19 regulations.

If you are not sure whether the State has determined that individual competitors from multiple teams are routine in your sport, you may call the State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 (open Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, or Saturday, 8am to 5pm) or submit an email question to [email protected].

Do not contact the County’s Public Health Department or any other County entity to request an exception for your particular event, tournament, or sport.  In addition, neither the Public Health Department nor any other entity of the County of Santa Clara can provide any information as to whether authorization has also been granted by the public health departments in the counties of origin of the visiting teams.  The County Health Officer’s authorization shall not constitute authorization by the local health departments of any other jurisdictions.

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FACE COVERINGS

What are the face covering requirements in the County’s May 18, 2021 Order?

Under the County’s May 18, 2021 Order, you must wear a face covering whenever required to do so by the County's Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings and the State’s Guidance on Face Coverings.

What types of face coverings are safe to wear? Can I wear a face shield instead?

Face coverings that you wear to work at or visit a business may be either disposable surgical masks or reusable cloth masks that you make or buy. Wearing a reusable cloth mask is encouraged to conserve supplies of surgical masks for healthcare workers and other workers who need them, and to reduce waste. The Health Officer strongly encourages everyone to choose face coverings that:

If each of us wears a mask, everyone is protected. You can make yours using two or more layers of common fabric, like cotton.

 

  • Have at least two layers of material.
  • Fit snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin, hooking around your ears or tying behind your head. Do not wear your face covering below your nose or with the top tucked underneath your chin.

The following categories of face coverings do not provide enough protection against the spread of COVID-19, and the Health Officer strongly discourages wearing them:

  • Neck gaiters and single-layer cloth face coverings, because they either fit too loosely or are too thin to offer enough protection.
  • Face coverings with an exhalation valve, because they allow unfiltered air (which may contain droplets and aerosols) to be released.

Face shields are not equivalent to face coverings. Face coverings are worn tightly over the nose, mouth, and chin help prevent the wearer from spreading potentially infected respiratory droplets and aerosols to other people. Face shields have a different purpose, which is to protect the wearer’s eyes in situations where eye protection is required (e.g., while performing medical procedures close to a patient). Based on available evidence, face shields don’t offer the same protection against spread of droplets and aerosols that properly worn face coverings do. You can certainly wear a face shield over a face covering if you want to, but you cannot wear a face shield instead of a face covering in situations where you are required to wear a face covering. (However, because face shields with cloth drapes on the bottom are likely better than no protection at all, if you are exempt from wearing a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, consider whether you would be able to wear a face shield with a drape, which provides some level of protection without sitting tightly on the face.)

State laws, such as the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard, may impose additional requirements regarding the type of acceptable face coverings that can be used.  Please ensure that the face covering you use complies with all applicable State and local requirements.

Who does not have to wear a face covering?

The following people do not have to wear face coverings:

  • Children under age two.
  • People who a healthcare professional has advised should not wear a face covering because they have a medical condition that would make wearing a face covering dangerous.
  • People who cannot put on or take off a face covering without assistance.
  • People who are hearing impaired or people who are communicating with someone else who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Workers who must remove their face covering to comply with local, state, or federal rules.
  • People who must take off their face covering to address a basic biological need, like eating or drinking.
  • People who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others not in their household (though wearing a face covering is still generally recommended under this circumstance).
  • People in a car alone or with only members of their own household.
  • People working alone in a closed office or room.
  • People obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Workers wearing respiratory protection.
  • People explicitly exempted by other State guidance.

People exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

Do I have to wear a face covering while I’m at work? What if I’m alone in my cubicle or sitting far apart from other people in an open workspace?

The County’s Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings adopts the California Department of Public Health’s mandatory Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. While at work, if you are indoors, you must keep your face covering on at all times unless you are in a closed office or room all by yourself. If you work in a cubicle or in an open workspace, you must keep your face covering on if there is anyone else in the same office or room as you, even if the office or room is very large. Please note that the Health Officer strongly encourages everyone to wear a face covering even when they are alone in a closed office or room if any person who is not a member of the same household visits that room. This is because aerosols stay airborne for an extended period of time. It is always safest to wear a face covering if you are able to do so.

You may remove your face covering to eat and drink at work so long as you maintain at least six feet of social distance from others, but you must put your face covering back on as soon as you are finished eating or drinking. Congregating with coworkers to eat indoors is unsafe and strongly discouraged. When possible, workers are strongly encouraged to take their meals during the workday outdoors, or if not, to eat alone at their own desk/workspace or in their vehicles.

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards may also impose further requirements regarding the use of face coverings at work.  For more information regarding these State regulations, see Cal/OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions. The County is unable to provide legal advice regarding how these regulations apply to your workplace, so you are encouraged to address such questions to your legal counsel.

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COVID-19 CASE REPORTING

What should businesses do when they discover that someone tested positive for COVID-19 case at their worksite?

Follow the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org. This step-by-step protocol provides guidance to employers on what to do when someone at their worksite tests positive for COVID-19, including: (1) providing instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker, (2) identifying close contacts, (3) communicating with all employees, (4) reporting the case to Public Health, (5) reporting any hospitalizations and deaths, (6) cleaning and disinfection, and (7) preventing COVID-19 transmission at the workplace.

Why is the County requiring employers to report to Public Health when one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19?

This requirement helps slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community by allowing the Public Health Department to track positive cases and investigate outbreaks in the workplace. Employers must require that employees tell their employer if they test positive and they were at work either (1) within 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 10 days after onset of symptoms if they were symptomatic; or (2) within 48 hours prior to the date on which they were tested or within 10 days after the date on which they were tested if they were asymptomatic. Employers (including government agencies) are required to tell the Public Health Department within 24 hours when one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19 if they were at work during that timeframe (whether the employer learned from their employee or some other source). Follow the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org to report the case using the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal.

I’m an employer. If one of my workers tests positive for COVID-19, but that person has not been to the facility recently, do I have to report the case to the County?

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 who has been working at your facility or worksite either (1) within 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 10 days after onset of symptoms if they were symptomatic; or (2) within 48 hours prior to the date on which they were tested or within 10 days after the date on which they were tested if they were asymptomatic, you must submit the requested case and contact data through the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal, as instructed at www.sccsafeworkplace.org. If the person was NOT at the facility or worksite within this time period (for example, an employee who has been working remotely from home), you do not need to report the case to the County.

What is “case investigation and contact tracing?”

It is one of the most important tools available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing interrupts chains of COVID-19 transmission by helping to ensure Public Health can identify potential contacts of any person who tests positive for COVID-19 and support them in safely quarantining. It helps to slow the spread of the virus throughout our County. Contact tracing allows for far fewer restrictions to be put on the activities of the community because COVID-19 transmission chains can be traced and contained before they spread uncontrollably. More information about the County’s case investigation and contact tracing operations is available at the Contact Tracing webpage​.

How do employers report that they have had an employee test positive for COVID-19 to the Public Health Department?

If a positive case is identified at your worksite, submit the requested case and contact data through the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal. Under the Health Officer Order, employers are legally required to submit this report within 24 hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). If you do not have complete information within 24 hours, you must report the information that you have obtained. Later, if you discover additional information after your initial report, you may update the information by submitting a new form with “[Employer Name] – CORRECTION” in the field for “Employer Name.” The information provided will remain confidential and will not be turned over to immigration authorities. ​

What information do employees need to give to their employer if they discover that they tested positive for COVID-19?

Businesses and governmental entities must require that all personnel (employees, contractors, and volunteers) immediately alert the business or government entity if they test positive for COVID-19 and were at the workplace either (1) within 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 10 days after onset of symptoms if they were symptomatic; or (2) within 48 hours prior to of the date on which they were tested or within 10 days after the date on which they were tested if they were asymptomatic. This means that workers must immediately tell their employer that they tested positive for COVID-19 if they were at the worksite during this period. Workers must also assist their employers in identifying their close contacts in the workplace.

When an employee gets tested for COVID-19, who should be listed as the recipient of the test results? Should the results go to the employee (who will then alert the employer if the result is positive), or should the results go directly to the employer?

Employers may (and are encouraged to) offer free testing to their workers, in which case the test results may be reported directly to the employer.  But workers who seek out testing on their own do not need to ask their healthcare provider or the testing laboratory to report their test results directly to the employer, and employers should not require this.

What does the Public Health Department do with my information?

All information gathered for case and contact tracing purposes will be used only for the purpose of tracing and containing COVID-19. Personal information will be kept confidential from anyone not working on contact tracing efforts or containing COVID-19. The County never shares personal information about community members with immigration authorities.

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ACCESS AND FUNCTIONAL NEEDS

While the Health Officer’s Order is in effect, do businesses and public entities still need to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Yes. The Health Officer’s Order makes no changes to ADA requirements, and the ADA remains in full force countywide. Businesses and public entities must comply with their usual ADA obligations, even if they are making changes to their facilities to implement their Social Distancing Protocols. For example, if a business chooses to rearrange furniture in its facility to make it easier for customers to practice social distancing, the new furniture arrangement must follow ADA requirements for ingress and egress. Similarly, if a restaurant decides to open outdoor dining, it may not position its outdoor tables and chairs so that they block or intrude on the public right of way.

Visit here for further information on ADA requirements for businesses.

I use a wheelchair van or other adapted vehicle. Will I be able to use the County’s drive-up COVID-19 testing sites?

Yes. Drive-up testing sites can accommodate wheelchair vans and other adapted vehicles. Note that drive-up testing sites will generally ask you to remain inside your vehicle while you self-administer your test.

I use a wheelchair/powerchair or have another physical disability. Will I be able to use the County’s walk-up/roll-up COVID-19 testing sites?

Yes. Walk-up/roll-up testing sites are accessible, and onsite staff are available to aid anyone who may need assistance.

I rely on public transportation or paratransit to get around. If I want to get tested for COVID-19, how can I arrange transportation to a testing site?

Please see the County’s testing website and this flowchart for directions on how to secure transportation to a testing site. If you still have questions after reviewing the testing website and flowchart, please contact the County’s Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at [email protected].

How is the County making sure that its communications about COVID-19 are accessible to people with language access or language processing needs?

The County is taking many steps to ensure that its communications are accessible to every member of the community. The Public Health Department’s entire COVID-19 website is fully translated into five different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog), and postings include Alt Text functionality. The County is regularly conducting online presentations to share important information in a video-based format, and video presentations include real-time ASL interpretation. The County has also designed signs, flyers, and posters that include informative graphics alongside text to ensure that they are as comprehensible as possible to all.

Does the County offer its COVID-19 materials in accessible formats (hard copies, large print, etc.)?

Yes. If you have an access or functional need and require the County’s COVID-19 materials in an accessible format, please contact the Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at [email protected] for assistance.

Do I need a doctor’s note to enter a business without a face covering if I have a medical condition or a disability that prevents me from wearing a face covering?

No. Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons. Please see the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

I’m a business owner, and my indoor facility is visited by customers. The County’s Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings and the State’s Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings require that all my customers wear face coverings at my indoor facility (except for customers who are exempt). What are my obligations under this requirement?

If a customer tries to enter your indoor facility without a face covering, you should ask that person, “Is there a medical or disability-related reason why you cannot wear a face covering?” You should not ask the person to tell you their specific medical condition or disability. If the person says they cannot wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, you should allow the person to enter your facility and should not require them to produce a doctor’s note.

If a customer does not have a medical or disability-related reason why they cannot wear a face covering but refuses to wear a face covering regardless, you must deny that customer entry to your indoor facility. If a customer becomes belligerent after you deny entry, you may call the police and request help in enforcing the face covering requirement at your indoor facility.

I run a retail business, and I’m not comfortable allowing anyone into my store without a face covering. What can my business do to accommodate shoppers who can’t wear face coverings for medical or disability-related reasons?

If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, retailers may not deny entry to that customer just because they are not wearing a face covering. But retailers are strongly encouraged to offer accommodations to these customers so that they can access the retailer’s services without entering the business facility. Accommodations may include things like offering delivery services, or accepting customers’ shopping lists over the phone or at curbside and bringing the items outside to the customer so they don’t need to enter the store.

I’m not comfortable going shopping in person because I cannot wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason. Are there any resources to help me with my shopping?

Delivery services offered by retail and grocery stores are good options for people who are not comfortable shopping in person. There are also free resources, like helpinghands.community, a community-based non-profit that provides delivery and other support services.

I cannot wear a face mask for a medical or disability-related reason. Am I required to wear one?

Face coverings are one of the most important tools available to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and anyone who is able to wear a face covering safely must do so. However, the following people are not required to wear face coverings, even while at a business or in places where they cannot maintain social distancing:

  • Very young children.
  • People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. This includes people who would be unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
  • People who are hearing impaired or are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, if the ability to see each other’s mouths is essential for communication.
  • Others specified in the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings

Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons. Please see the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

I have a question related to access and functional needs. Where can I go for assistance?

The following resources are available to people with questions related to access and functional needs:

What steps can I take to be as prepared as possible in case of an emergency?

Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, and it is especially vital for people with access and functional needs who may need additional preparations to stay safe during an emergency. All County residents are encouraged to sign up for notifications, which is a free and easy way to get emergency alerts sent directly to your cell phone or mobile device, landline, or email. You can sign up for AlertSCC notifications here. In addition, the County Office of Emergency Management’s website has resources to help all County residents design a disaster safety plan for their families and loved ones. The following are more specific preparedness guides for people with access and functional needs:

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