Last content update: 12/28/2021
Order Requiring Up-To-Date COVID-19 Vaccination of Personnel in Higher-Risk Settings
Why is this Order being issued now?
The Health Officer is issuing this order in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, and the imminent threat that it poses to the health of vulnerable residents and the capacity of the healthcare system. The Omicron variant spreads more quickly and easily than prior variants of the virus, and individuals who are unvaccinated or haven’t received their booster when eligible are more susceptible to infection and severe illness from the Omicron variant than those who are both “fully vaccinated” and boosted. Emerging evidence also indicates our community and others may soon be facing a significant surge in hospitalizations and an increase in large outbreaks in congregate settings as a result of the Omicron variant.
Ensuring that all individuals working in higher-risk settings are both vaccinated and boosted when eligible is critical given the risk that health systems will be overwhelmed and other ongoing risks associated with COVID-19. Individuals working in these settings (1) can expose highly vulnerable individuals who are at increased risk of severe illness and death, (2) must be protected from COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible to ensure adequate staffing in these critical settings, and (3) in the case of jails, shelters, and skilled nursing facilities, can cause large outbreaks if infected.
What is a “Higher-Risk Setting” under the Order?
“Higher-Risk Settings” are settings that involve working in shared air space or proximity to people who are at higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19 because of age or underlying medical condition, as well as congregate settings where outbreaks are likely to occur and spread quickly. For the purposes of this Order, Higher-Risk Settings are those portions of the following facilities where there is shared air space or proximity to patients, clients, or vulnerable populations:
- skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, adult day care facilities, and memory care facilities;
- healthcare delivery facilities (such as hospitals, clinics, medical offices, dialysis centers, etc.,) where patient care is provided, as well as medical first responders (regardless of work location);
- jails and other correctional facilities; and
- congregate shelters.
How does this Order differ from the State Health Officer’s vaccination mandates?
This Order builds on the State Health Officer’s vaccination mandates—which were updated to include a booster requirement on December 22, 2021—for workers in the healthcare sector, in correctional healthcare, and in adult care.
This local Order expands on the State requirements in a few significant ways:
- It moves up the date for requiring boosters to January 24, instead of February 1.
- Although there is considerable overlap between the personnel covered by the orders, the local Order covers higher-risk facilities more broadly rather than focusing on entities licensed by the State. (See the FAQ below for more details on who is covered by the State and local orders.)
- And, after February 1, the local Order requires that unvaccinated and unboosted personnel (even with approved exemptions) cannot work in higher-risk settings. Employers are encouraged to ensure compliance with any applicable reasonable accommodation requirements regarding personnel with approved exemptions. Personnel with approved exemptions are encouraged to be accommodated in lower-risk roles outside their current Higher-Risk Setting.
All persons and entities must comply with both State and local Orders.
What facilities are covered by the local Order compared with the State vaccination orders?
While there is significant overlap in the personnel covered by the State vaccination orders and the local Order, there are some important differences.
For example, the State orders apply to the following categories of personnel who are not included in the local Order:
- IHSS and in-home care workers
- Hospice workers
For example, the local Order applies to the following categories of personnel who are not currently covered by the State orders:
- Medical first responders (i.e., paramedics and EMTs)
- Jail correctional staff
- Congregate shelter staff
Regardless of facilities that are specifically mandated to have personnel who are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations by the local Order, all entities are strongly urged to adopt a requirement that all personnel be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination.
What are “healthcare delivery facilities” for purposes of the Order?
Healthcare delivery facilities are locations where any patient-facing healthcare is provided outside the home.
Healthcare delivery facilities are facilities or worksites that have at least one licensed healthcare professional performing services within the scope of that person’s healthcare license. “Licensed healthcare professionals” are those providers who are considered Licensed Health Professionals by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Why is this Order requiring those who work in Higher-Risk Settings to be vaccinated and receive a booster when eligible?
Ensuring that all individuals working in higher-risk settings are both vaccinated and boosted when eligible is critical given the risk that health systems will be overwhelmed and other ongoing risks associated with COVID-19. Individuals working in these settings (1) can expose highly vulnerable individuals who are at increased risk of severe illness and death, (2) must be protected from COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible to ensure adequate staffing in these critical settings, and (3) in the case of jails, shelters, and skilled nursing facilities, can cause large outbreaks that spread quickly if infected.
Can someone with an approved vaccine exemption continue to work in Higher-Risk Settings?
No. The Order requires that all staff working in Higher-Risk Settings are vaccinated and also boosted when they become eligible. The risk of transmission to and by unvaccinated workers in these settings is now too great to allow any unvaccinated persons to work in these settings and roles.
Employers must be mindful of their obligations under state and federal law to offer reasonable accommodations in certain circumstances. Workers in Higher-Risk Settings who are granted a medical or religious exemption by their employer cannot continue to work in Higher-Risk Settings, but may instead, to the extent required by applicable reasonable accommodation laws and regulations, be accommodated in lower-risk settings and roles or through other accommodations such as a leave of absence.
If someone works or volunteers onsite in a Higher-Risk Setting but is not eligible to receive a booster because of age, must that person stop volunteering onsite in that Higher-Risk Setting?
No. Workers, volunteers, and others providing services in Higher-Risk Settings must be “Up-to-Date” on their COVID-19 vaccination, which means they have obtained any boosters for which they are eligible. If someone is not yet eligible for a booster, either because of their age or because it has not yet been long enough since they finished their initial vaccination series, they are still considered “Up-to-Date.”
How long does someone have to obtain their booster once becoming eligible?
Personnel have up to 15 calendar days to obtain their booster once they become eligible to receive one. Of course, they are encouraged to obtain a booster as soon as possible after their eligibility date.
Does this Order require or recommend telework?
No. The order requires up-to-date vaccination for workers in Higher-Risk Settings and recommends that employers in other settings adopt policies requiring all other workers to be up-to-date on vaccination. Further, telework is generally not possible in these settings. In general office settings where everyone is consistently wearing face coverings and is up-to-date on vaccination, the risk of transmission is low relative to overall community transmission. Thus, if these and other COVID-19 safety precautions are followed in the workplace, there is no need for employees to telework for safety reasons.
Does the Order require employees or vendors who only rarely perform onsite functions in a Higher-Risk Setting to be up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination?
Yes. For purposes of the Order, personnel who are not permanently stationed or regularly assigned to a Higher-Risk Setting but who in the course of their duties may enter or work in Higher-Risk Settings even on an intermittent or occasional basis or for short periods of time or without sustained interaction with other people are considered to work onsite in Higher-Risk Settings.
If someone received a passive antibody product as part of COVID-19 treatment or post-exposure prophylaxis, does that affect the timeline for when they must obtain vaccination or booster doses under the Order?
Yes. If a person received a passive antibody product (anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma) as part of COVID-19 treatment or post-exposure prophylaxis, they should defer vaccination for 90 days if the product was used for COVID-19 treatment or 30 days if the product was used for post-exposure prophylaxis. A person who has received a passive antibody product for COVID-19 treatment or post-exposure prophylaxis is not considered eligible for vaccination until after the applicable deferral period.
If someone tests positive for COVID-19, does it affect when they are eligible for vaccination or a booster?
A person who tests positive for COVID-19 may obtain vaccination or a booster as soon as they complete the isolation period recommended by the California Department of Public Health (see California Department of Public Health isolation and quarantine guidance here).
FAQs for Universal Indoor Face Covering Order of August 2, 2021
Vaccines remain the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Nonetheless, the Delta variant is infecting a percentage of the vaccinated — who remain strongly protected against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. The new Order of the Health Officer of the County of Santa Clara requires wearing a well-fitting mask indoors to help minimize the spike in community transmission.
Not all members of our community are vaccinated, and face coverings remain a critical tool in protecting our community against the spread of COVID-19. In Santa Clara County, you must wear a face covering whenever required to do under County or State face covering rules. For more information about these requirements, please see the County’s “Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions” page.
What is the Universal Indoor Face Covering Order and why is it being issued now?
The August 2, 2021 Universal Indoor Face Covering Order broadly requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings indoors to the greatest extent possible. However, as described in the Order and below, face coverings can be removed to engage in activities that inherently cannot be done with them on, such as eating and drinking.
The Order is being issued in light of the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, and the increase in cases and hospitalizations that is resulting from it. Vaccination remains the best and most effective tool in preventing COVID-19 and its harms; evidence shows that even against the Delta variant, fully vaccinated individuals have substantial protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. In addition to vaccination, universal indoor use of face coverings is the least disruptive and most immediately impactful additional measure to take.
The Order is broadly in line with recent recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health for universal indoor use of face coverings regardless of vaccination status at the current moment, as well as the prior recommendation from the County Public Health Department to do likewise.
How does the Santa Clara County order differ from other similar indoor face covering orders issued in the Bay Area?
While most Bay Area indoor face covering orders are similar in effect, the Santa Clara County order also requires use of face coverings at private indoor events (such as parties or gatherings in a residence). This is because the risk of COVID-19 transmission is similar in such settings. Most other orders urge use of face coverings in such settings, but do not require it.
What are other key recommendations from the Health Officer at this time?
While not a legal mandate, the Health Officer urges businesses and governmental entities to take the following additional steps to help keep the community safe:
- Require all personnel to be fully vaccinated (and verify their actual vaccination such as by obtaining copies of vaccination cards or digital vaccination records), subject only to limited exceptions required by law.
- Check the vaccination status of customers, and only allow fully vaccinated customers into facilities, particularly higher-risk settings such as those where face coverings must be removed to engage in activities.
- Move as many activities outdoors as possible. Where this is not possible, maximize ventilation as described here.
- Mandate frequent testing of all unvaccinated personnel or customers.
For individuals, the Health Officer urges everyone to:
- Get vaccinated as soon as possible, if you’re not already fully vaccinated. Information on how to get vaccinated is available at sccfreevax.org.
- Avoid indoor activities that require removal of face coverings, and instead choose outdoor alternatives or avoid the activity altogether. If you must be indoors, maximize ventilation (such as by opening windows and doors or adjusting the HVAC system), limit the amount of time spent indoors, and limit the number of people present indoors.
- Wear face coverings outdoors in crowded settings.
- Get immediately tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. Information on how to get tested is available at sccfreetest.org.
What kind of face covering should I wear?
Under the Order, a face covering must be well-fitted to an individual and cover the nose and mouth especially while talking, consistent with the guidance of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). A face covering does not include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck, collar, or single layer of fabric or any mask that has an unfiltered one-way exhaust valve.
Not all face coverings are equally effective, and a medical-grade (i.e., surgical) mask offers greater protection and is advisable. Please see CDPH guidance on types of face coverings for more information.
Who is exempt from wearing a face covering indoors?
Consistent with state guidelines, the following people are generally exempt from indoor use of face coverings:
- Medical or Safety Exemption. A person does not need to wear a face covering when they can show: (1) a medical professional has provided a written exemption to the face covering requirement, based on the person’s medical condition, other health concern, or disability; or (2) that they are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; or (3) wearing a face covering while working would create a risk to the person related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines. In accordance with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, if a person is exempt from wearing a face covering, they still must wear an alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, unless they can show either: (1) a medical professional has provided a written exemption to this alternative requirement, based on the person’s medical condition, other health concern, or disability; or (2) wearing an alternative face covering while working would create a risk to the person related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
- Children. In accordance with CDPH and CDC guidelines, any child younger than two years old must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation. Children age two to nine and their accompanying parents or caregivers should not be refused any essential service based on a child’s inability to wear a face covering (for example, if a four-year-old child refuses to keep a face covering on in a grocery store), but the parent or caregiver should when possible take reasonable steps to have the child wear a face covering to protect others and minimize instances when children without face coverings are brought into settings with other people. Parents and caregivers of children age two to nine years must supervise the use of face coverings to ensure safety and avoid misuse.
- Personal Protective Equipment. A person does not need to wear a face covering when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that is more protective than a face covering, such as an N95 respirator, as required by (i) any workplace policy or (ii) any local, state, or federal law, regulation, or other mandatory guidance. When a person is not required to wear such PPE, they must wear a face covering unless otherwise exempted.
For what kinds of activities are you allowed to remove a face covering?
To the extent allowed by state or federal rules requiring face coverings for unvaccinated people, wearing a face covering is not required in any of the following situations. However, everyone is urged to move such activities outdoors or avoid them altogether.
- Indoors While Alone or with Members of Your Household. A person does not need to wear a face covering when they are alone or with members of their household in a public building or completely enclosed space such as an office, and people who are not part of their household are not likely to be in the same space. If someone who is not part of a person’s household enters the enclosed space, everyone must wear a face covering for the duration of the interaction. For clarity, people must wear face coverings whenever they are in semi-enclosed spaces such as cubicles and common areas for shared living settings, such as hotels, shared rentals with multiple households, dormitories, fire stations, lobbies, and elevators. For clarity, persons known to be fully vaccinated and who come into your residence on a regular basis (e.g., caregivers) may be considered members of your household for purposes of this Order.
- Active Eating and Drinking. People may remove their face covering while actively eating or drinking. People are urged to be seated at a table or positioned at a stationary counter or place while eating or drinking.
- Showering, Personal Hygiene, or Sleeping. People may remove their face covering while showering or actively engaging in personal hygiene that requires removal of face covering, including at a gym or other facility. People may remove their face covering while sleeping in indoor public settings, such as at congregate shelters.
- Live or Recorded Performance. Performers at indoor live or recorded settings or events such as concerts, live music, film, television, recording studios, theater, opera, symphony, or other live or recorded activities may remove their face coverings while actively performing or practicing. If they remove their face coverings, performers must maintain at least six feet of distance from attendees and employees and are encouraged to maintain as much distance from other performers as possible. Performers are strongly urged to be fully vaccinated, and to wear their face coverings to the greatest extent possible. Attendees and employees must remain masked while attending or working at the performance except when another exception applies.
- Religious Gatherings. Service leaders of indoor religious gatherings may remove their face coverings while actively performing religious services. If they remove their face coverings, service leaders are encouraged to maintain as much distance from others as possible. Service leaders are strongly urged to be fully vaccinated, and to wear their face coverings to the greatest extent possible. Participants in indoor religious gatherings may remove their face coverings for the limited duration necessary to participate in religious rituals.
- Personal Services. Patrons of personal services such as facials, beard trims, facial piercing and tattoos, and facial massages may remove their face covering only while actively receiving a service or treatment that requires temporary removal of the face covering. Where they cannot maintain at least six feet of distance, providers of personal services are strongly encouraged to wear a N-95 mask, respirator, or procedural/surgical mask while administering the service, as well as to not perform the service unless fully vaccinated.
- Sports. Participants in indoor sports, gyms, and yoga studios may not remove their face coverings except while actively engaged in water-based activities (e.g., swimming, swim lessons, diving, water polo) and other sports where masks create imminent risk to health (e.g., wrestling, judo), or at a time where heat and major exertion creates a safety risk.
What does the Order require of businesses and governmental entities?
All businesses and governmental entities must enforce the face covering requirement in the Order for all personnel and for all customers or members of the public entering their facilities, regardless of vaccination status.
In addition, all businesses and governmental entities must post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor settings to communicate the face covering requirements to all persons entering the facility. Sample signs are available here.
In addition, those responsible for indoor public settings are strongly encouraged to provide face coverings at no cost to individuals who do not have one upon entry.
What about outdoor use of face coverings?
Although not a legal mandate, the Health Officer recommends use of face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, in crowded outdoor settings.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Like all other Health Orders, failure to comply with the indoor face covering requirement is subject to both criminal and civil enforcement. For example, any business that fails to enforce the indoor face covering requirement is subject to enforcement, and may be required to pay fines of up to $5,000 per violation per day. Anyone can submit a concern about a violation of any of the County public health orders by visiting our website at www.SCCCovidConcerns.org.
How can I determine if my space is an “indoor” space where people must wear face coverings, or an “outdoor” space where people are not required to wear face coverings?
A space or area is considered “outdoor” if it is either open to the sky with no roof or at least 50% of its total perimeter is open; and there is sufficient natural ventilation and air circulation to dilute and disperse concentrations of aerosols effectively without the support of mechanical systems.
If a space or area fails to meet the definition of “outdoor,” it is considered an “indoor” space, and all individuals within that space, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face covering unless exempted.
Even outdoors, individuals are recommended to use face coverings if they are in crowded areas.
Overview of June 21, 2021 Order
UPDATE: On June 21, 2021, the County Health Officer issued a new order phasing out the Health Officer’s prior May 18, 2021 Order (“May 18 Order”). For most businesses and governmental entities, the previous restrictions are no longer necessary because there are fewer cases of COVID-19 in the community and because the widespread vaccination of individuals in the county have provided important and effective protection against contracting COVID-19 and against severe COVID-19 illness. However, it remains critical that more people get vaccinated and that unvaccinated people continue to take appropriate safety measures. Therefore, while the June 21, 2021 Order (“June 21 Order”) rescinds the requirements of the May 18 Order for most businesses and governmental entities in the county, the following requirements remain in effect:
- Businesses and entities that have not completed at least two rounds of ascertainment of their personnel’s ascertainment status as required by Section 9(c) of the May 18 Order must continue to comply with the May 18 Order’s ascertainment requirements until they have completed two rounds of ascertainment.
- All businesses and entities must keep appropriate records to show that they have completed at least two rounds of ascertainment as required by Section 9(c) of the May 18 Order. Businesses and entities must keep these records for the duration of the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards imposed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) and codified at Title 8 of Section 3205 et seq. of the California Code of Regulations.
The June 21 Order also requires individuals and entities to continue following applicable State public health orders, mandatory State guidance, and State laws related to COVID-19, including regulations from Cal/OSHA.
Importantly, the June 21 Order strongly recommends that all eligible individuals get vaccinated against COVID-19, as that is the best way to protect against infection, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19. The June 21 Order also makes the following additional recommendations:
- Businesses and entities should strongly encourage their personnel to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible, and should regularly request updated vaccination status information from those personnel who are not fully vaccinated;
- Businesses and entities should consider moving operations outdoors, where there is significantly less risk of COVID-19 transmission;
- Businesses and entities should prohibit all personnel who are not fully vaccinated from traveling for work to places where there are high rates of COVID-19, where there is wide circulation of variants of concern, or where community vaccination rates are below the average in the Bay Area.
- Businesses and entities should require all personnel who are not fully vaccinated to get tested regularly for COVID-19, consistent with local, state, and federal guidelines.
The new order also rescinds the May 13, 2020 Order of the Health Officer Directing Hospitals and Skilled Nursing Facilities to Disclose Personal Protective Equipment Inventories. All other COVID-19 Health Orders that are currently still in effect are not rescinded or modified by the June 21 Order.
Does the rescission of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and the County’s May 18, 2021 Health Order mean there are no longer any COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County?
No. All individuals, businesses, and entities in Santa Clara County must follow applicable restrictions under the State Public Health Officer Order of June 11, 2021, the State’s Beyond the Blueprint for Industry and Business Sectors Guidance, the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings, the State’s COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, and any other applicable State COVID-19 regulation or guidance document. In addition, businesses and other employers must comply with the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Standards requirements that apply to their employees.
For more information regarding the State’s requirements, visit the State’s COVID-19 landing page. This landing page links to the State’s Safely Reopening California, which provides information regarding the State’s face coverings rules and Cal/OSHA’s workplace safety rules. The State’s COVID-19 landing page also links to its Vaccines webpage, where you can find and make an appoint to get vaccinated. 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]. You may also visit the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards website for more information about Cal/OSHA’s workplace safety rules regarding COVID-19.
Additionally, the County Health Officer has lifted all Mandatory Directives and has rescinded the May 18 Order, with two exceptions. First, the Order’s vaccination ascertainment requirement remains in effect with respect to any business or government entity that has not yet completed two rounds of vaccine ascertainment. For those businesses and governmental entities that are still covered by the ascertainment requirement, see the “Ascertainment of Vaccination Status of Employees” below for more information. Second, all businesses and government entities must retain records to show that they have completed at least two rounds of ascertainment as required by the May 18 Order.
What are the current face covering requirements in Santa Clara County?
With cases of COVID-19 rising locally and increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the County recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places to ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings and as an extra precautionary measure for all. This recommendation applies in addition to the State regulations described below that require masks indoors for all unvaccinated individuals and in certain circumstances for all. Health Officers will revisit this recommendation in the coming weeks as they continue to monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and increasing vaccination rates.
Further, individuals and businesses in Santa Clara County must also follow the State’s rules on face coverings. The State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings sets forth face covering requirements for all individuals in public settings and businesses. More information regarding the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings is available at the State’s Face Coverings Q&A page.
Additionally, the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“Cal/OSHA ETS”) contains additional requirements regarding face coverings that businesses must comply with to protect their employees. For more information regarding the Cal/OSHA ETS, you can visit the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions Page.
Am I still required to maintain six feet of social distance from individuals outside my household?
No, there are no longer any State or County social distancing requirements.
ASCERTAINMENT OF VACCINATION STATUS OF EMPLOYEES
All businesses and governmental entities are required to “complete two rounds” of ascertainment of vaccination status for their personnel. What does it mean to “complete” a round of ascertainment of vaccination status?
A business or governmental entity has completed an initial round of ascertainment of vaccination status of personnel when it has (1) received responses to a request for vaccination status from all of its employees, and (2) made a good-faith effort to obtain vaccination status from all non-employee personnel working onsite in its facilities. With respect to a second or subsequent round of ascertainment, the business or governmental entity must receive a response from all of its employees who were not confirmed to be fully vaccinated during the prior round of ascertainment, and it must make a good-faith effort to obtain vaccination status from all non-employees working onsite in its facilities who were not previously confirmed to be fully vaccinated.
After completing two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status, I hired new workers. Do I need to ascertain their vaccination status?
You are no longer covered by the ascertainment of vaccination status requirement under the County’s May 18 Order, which has been rescinded. However, employers that are covered by Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards “must record the vaccination status of any employee not wearing a face covering indoors.” For more information, see the Cal/OSHA ETS FAQs here (under “Vaccines”).
Why are businesses and governmental entities required to complete two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status 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 must 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 complete two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status to 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 as of the dates of ascertainment 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 their vaccination status, assume that they are not fully vaccinated, and follow all the rules that apply to workers who are not fully vaccinated.
What was the deadline for determining the vaccination status of my workers?
You were required to 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 were required to request updated vaccination status every 14 days thereafter (e.g., June 15, June 29, July 13, etc.). If you have not yet completed two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status, you must complete the first round immediately and the second round 14 days thereafter.
Do businesses have to keep records of who is vaccinated and who is not?
Yes. Businesses and governmental entities must maintain appropriate records to demonstrate completion of two rounds of ascertainment pursuant to the County Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order for the duration of Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards.
What happens if I fail to complete two rounds of ascertainment of 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 complete two rounds of ascertainment of the vaccination status of their workers. 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.
Am I required to complete two rounds of ascertainment of vaccination status for my remote workers, too?
You are required to complete two rounds of ascertainment of the vaccination status of all your workers who perform any work at a facility or worksite in the county. You are also strongly encouraged, but not required, to complete two rounds of ascertainment of the vaccination status of all your other workers.
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 current County rules, employers must complete two rounds of ascertainment of 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:
- 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.
- Collect the forms and store them in the same way you store confidential employee information like documents requesting medical leave, reasonable accommodations, etc.
- 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 complete two rounds of ascertainment of the vaccination status of their own employees, but you should confirm with your contractors that they have complied 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 complete two rounds of ascertainment of the vaccination status of 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 completing two rounds of ascertainment of 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 complete two rounds of ascertainment of 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 has complied 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 some of them did not respond by June 1. Will I be fined?
So long as a business made appropriate, good faith efforts to gather vaccination status information for its personnel by the June 1 deadline, and followed 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.
ACCESS AND FUNCTIONAL NEEDS
With some State and County COVID-19 rules still 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 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites?
Yes. Testing and vaccination sites are accessible for people with disabilities and those with other access or functional needs, 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 or vaccinated against 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. Similarly, please visit the County’s COVID-19 vaccine website for information about how to secure free door-to-door transportation to your vaccination appointment. If you still have further questions, 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 public may also use 711 for Hearing and Speech Relay Service. The County has regularly conducted online presentations to share important information in a video-based format, and video press conferences 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 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 am still not fully vaccinated and 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 an important tool for stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are not yet fully vaccinated, and anyone who is able to wear a face covering safely must do so when required by the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. However, where face coverings are required, there are exemptions for persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering (including people who would be unable to remove a face covering without assistance), and for persons who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired.
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:
- For assistance locating or accessing community resources, contact the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, www.211.org, or the San Andreas Regional Center.
- For topics related to seniors (such as In-Home Supportive Services or Senior Nutrition Services), contact the County’s Department of Aging and Adult Services.
- For topics related to long term care facilities, contact the California Department of Aging Ombudsman at 1-800-231-4024.
- For topics related to SNAP, Medi-Cal, or other benefits, please contact the County’s Department of Employment and Benefit Services.
- To report a business operating in violation of the ADA, please contact the city in which the business is located.
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:
- Bedside Emergency Supplies Checklist
- Car Emergency Supplies Kit Checklist
- Carry On You Emergency Supplies Kit Checklist
- Emergency Contact List
- Emergency Food and Water
- Emergency Power Planning Checklist
- Emergency Supplies Kits
- Emergency Travel Safety Tips For Overnight Stays
- Evacuation Transportation Planning Tips
- Grab and Go Emergency Supplies Kit Checklist
- Grab and Go Emergency Supplies Kit Checklist Template
- Grab and Go Emergency Supplies Kit with Daily Use Items Checklist
- Home Emergency Supplies Kit Checklist
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