Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions

Last content update: 9/8/2022

January 31, 2022 Revised Testing Order

 

    Under the January 31, 2022 Revised Testing Order (“Order”), your healthcare provider is required to provide you with a COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) if you meet any of the following criteria:

    • You have any symptoms of COVID-19;
    • You have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days; or
    • You are required or recommended to have a COVID-19 test under State or County guidelines (healthcare facilities are not required to provide routine surveillance testing to K-12 students, but must provide all other testing recommended or required for K-12 students).

    If you fall into one of the above categories and you request a test, your healthcare provider must provide you one within 24 hours. If you are provided with a lab-based test (such as a PCR test) that does not return immediate results, your healthcare provider must provide your results within 72 hours, or must provide you with an antigen test if they are unable to do so.

     Your healthcare provider may tell you to go to another clinic or testing center operated by the same healthcare provider within the county (or outside the county if within 10 miles of your home) if needed to ensure that you receive a test within 24 hours. Your healthcare provider may not, however, tell you to go to a site run by another organization, including the County’s public testing sites.

    The following FAQs provide additional information about the Order and your right to receive COVID-19 tests from your healthcare provider.

    On September 16, 2020, the County issued a public health order (the “September 2020 Order”) that imposed certain COVID-19 testing requirements on hospitals and clinics in the county. Many of the testing requirements imposed by the September 2020 Order will continue under the new Order—including the requirement that hospitals and clinics provide COVID-19 tests to patients who have COVID-19 symptoms or are exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case. However, you should be aware of the following important changes under the new Order:

    • Healthcare providers are no longer required to provide patients with COVID-19 tests solely based on their classification as “essential workers.” However, healthcare providers are required to provide COVID-19 tests to anyone for whom the California Department of Public Health or the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department recommends or requires testing (with the exception of routine surveillance testing of K-12 students).
    • Your healthcare provider must provide you with a COVID-19 test within 24 hours regardless of whether you request a test in person or remotely.
    • Your healthcare provider may send you to another clinic or testing center operated by the same healthcare provider within the county (or outside the county if within 10 miles of your home) in order to ensure you get a test within 24 hours—but may not refer to you to another organization.

    Your healthcare provider must provide you with an antigen test in addition to a PCR test if they cannot provide you with the results of your PCR test within 72 hours.

    The Order is effective at 12:01 am on February 7, 2022. Until that time, the September 2020 Order remains in effect, and covered hospitals and clinics must continue complying with it.

    The Order applies to acute care hospitals located in the County and any clinics, urgent care facilities, emergency departments, or other similar facilities in the County that are owned by a company that also owns an acute care hospital. In general, this means that the Order applies to large healthcare systems, including, but not limited to, Kaiser, Palo Alto Medical Foundation (“PAMF”), and Stanford. Throughout the Order and these FAQs, these hospitals and clinics subject to the Order are called “Healthcare Facilities.”

    It means that when one of their patients has COVID-19 symptoms, was exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 10 days, or is recommended or required to be tested under current guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health or the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, the Healthcare Facility is required to provide that patient with a COVID-19 test if the patient requests one. The Healthcare Facility is not required to provide routine surveillance testing to all K-12 students as recommended under California Department of Public Health guidance. However, Healthcare Facilities must still provide COVID-19 testing to students that have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or otherwise are recommended or required to be tested under State or County guidance.

    Regardless of vaccination status, the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department urges the public to get tested for COVID-19 when experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or when exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case. In general, the Public Health Department recommends testing 3-5 days after the last exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, the County recommends that you get tested immediately. If you test during your first 1-2 days of symptoms, consider continuing self-isolation and retesting in 1-2 days if testing negative with an antigen test. Please consult COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public for further details.

    In addition, the California Department of Public Health and/or the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department recommend or require that certain additional groups of people get tested for COVID-19, including, but not limited to:

    • Healthcare personnel who are unvaccinated or have not received their booster, or who work in certain settings like skilled nursing facilities.
    • Employees of K-12 schools who are unvaccinated or have not received their booster.
    • Employees working in congregate care settings, such as jails and homeless shelters, who are unvaccinated or have not received their booster.
    • Fully vaccinated workers who have underlying immunocompromising conditions and work in certain high-risk settings.

    The above list only provides examples of individuals for whom the State or County requires or recommends testing and is not intended to be exhaustive. Please consult the California Department of Public Health and County of Santa Clara Public Health Department websites for the latest testing guidance.

    Up to date means a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible.

    Fully vaccinated means a person has received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.

    For more information, see the CDC’s  Stay Up to Date with Your Vaccines.

    A person has been “exposed” to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is known as a “close contact”. For the definition of close contact, see “Who is a close contact?


    A Healthcare Facility may ask questions to determine whether a patient meets this definition of close contact. However, a Healthcare Facility may not require a patient to provide proof (e.g. a test result) that the individual to whom they were a close contact had a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

    No. A person is only considered “exposed” if they were a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

    Healthcare Facilities should rely on information provided by the patient. For example, a Healthcare Facility can ask a patient if they were in close contact with a person with COVID-19. They cannot, however, require proof or verification beyond what is reported to them by the patient.

    No one should go to an emergency room unless they require emergency care. No one should go to an emergency room solely to obtain a COVID-19 test. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your doctor to seek treatment and obtain a COVID-19 test. And if you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should seek treatment at an emergency room.

    The order does not require Kaiser to provide testing to non-Kaiser members in its clinics. However, Kaiser is required to provide COVID-19 testing to any patient receiving care in its facilities (including urgent care clinics or emergency rooms) who requests a COVID-19 test and has COVID-19 symptoms, was exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 10 days, or is recommended or required to be tested under State or County guidance.

    Yes. Because you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the Healthcare Facility is required to provide you a COVID-19 test within 24 hours if you request one, regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms. The Healthcare Facility may ask whether you were within 6 feet of the infected person for 15 minutes or more, but may not require you to provide proof of exposure (e.g. a positive test result for the infected person).

    A Healthcare Facility is not required to provide your child with a COVID-19 test as part of the routine surveillance testing recommended by the State for all K-12 students. However, if your child exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed to someone with a positive COVID-19 test, the Healthcare Facility must provide your child with a COVID-19 test within 24 hours if you are a patient of the Healthcare Facility and request a test.

    Please note that even if you do not qualify for a COVID-19 test under the Order, your healthcare provider may still choose to provide you with a test or you may be able to obtain one from another organization.

    Under the new Order, Healthcare Facilities are not required to provide you with a test within 24 hours based solely on your status as an essential worker under California Department of Managed Health Care regulations. However, if you are a person for whom testing is required or recommended by State or County public health guidance—which includes certain individuals working in high-risk settings—a Healthcare Facility must still provide you with a test within 24 hours if you request one. And, if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed to someone with a positive COVID-19 test, a Healthcare Facility must provide you with a test within 24 hours after your request.

    Please note that even if you do not qualify for a COVID-19 test under the Order, your healthcare provider may still choose to provide you with a test or you may be able to obtain one from another organization.

    There are many places in the county where people without insurance can get a free COVID-19 test. Information on these testing sites is available at www.sccfreetest.org.

    Contact your primary care provider to arrange for testing and directions on what to do. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and seek care from a Healthcare Facility, the Healthcare Facility is required to give you a COVID-19 test within 24 hours. If you need emergency care, go to the nearest hospital emergency room. However, the County does not recommend going to an emergency room solely to obtain a COVID-19 test.

    Generally, you should not be required to schedule an appointment with your doctor or obtain a referral from your doctor prior to being tested for COVID-19 if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms or are seeking a test pursuant to State or County public health guidance. Healthcare Facilities may require that patients with COVID-19 symptoms be seen by a medical professional (e.g., where a patient has shortness of breath that may require a medical evaluation), but they must provide symptomatic patients with COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing within 24 hours of their request for testing.

    Please note that while you may not be required to meet with your doctor to access COVID-19 testing, your Healthcare Facility may ask that you schedule a time to come in to be tested. Under the Order, you must be able to schedule your COVID-19 test within 24 hours of your request.

    You must receive a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of when you request a test.

    Healthcare Facilities must provide COVID-19 testing to any patient with COVID-19 symptoms or who was exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19 regardless of the last time the patient was tested.

    For patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed exposure, but who are recommended or required to get tested by State or County public health guidance, Healthcare Facilities are required to provide testing during the time period when testing is recommended under the applicable guidance (e.g. weekly, bi-weekly).

    Persons experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should get tested regardless of vaccination status.

    Persons who are identified as a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case should get tested 3-5 days after the last exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case, regardless of whether they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

    Generally, yes. The Order requires Healthcare Facilities to offer COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing to all patients who are eligible under the Order within the frequency and time requirements of the Order. However, if a person is positive, they should not receive COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing until after they test negative for COVID-19.

    Healthcare Facilities are required to provide the results of any lab-based COVID-19 tests that does not yield immediate results (e.g. PCR or LAMP) within 72 hours from the date they provide the test. If a Healthcare Facility is not able to meet this time requirement, they must provide patients with antigen COVID-19 tests in addition to the lab-based test. The Healthcare Facility must also provide notice to the County explaining the delay and what they’re doing to resolve it and must resolve the delay within 14 days of reporting.

    No. This Order only requires PCR and antigen diagnostic testing for COVID-19 to determine whether certain categories of patients currently have COVID-19. It does not apply to antibody testing.

    Yes. The Order requires Healthcare Facilities to provide COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing to all Patients with at least one symptom of COVID-19 who request to be tested.  Even if the healthcare provider believes the symptoms are likely attributable to an alternative diagnosis, the Healthcare Facility must provide the Patient a COVID-19 Diagnostic Test within the time requirements of the Order.  

    The Order requires Healthcare Facilities to conspicuously post the Patient Testing Notice, which informs patients of their right to obtain COVID-19 tests under the Order, “in patient waiting areas and exam or treatment rooms. This means that hospitals and clinics must post the Patient Testing Notice in all patient waiting areas and all rooms in which patients are examined and evaluated, including all exam or treatment rooms in any outpatient clinic, urgent care facility, emergency department, or other similar facility. “Treatment room” does not include inpatient hospital rooms.​

    In addition, the Order requires that the Patient Testing Notice be posted on the Healthcare Facility’s website, included in all promotional or informational materials distributed to patients, and be sent by email to all primary care patients.

    The Patient Testing Notice is available here.

    Patient Testing Notice (PDF) - | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |

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    Order Requiring Up-To-Date COVID-19 Vaccination of Personnel in Higher-Risk Settings (Updated March 8, 2022)

      Ensuring that  individuals working in higher-risk settings are both vaccinated and boosted when eligible is critical given the 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 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.

      “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: 

      1. skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, adult day care facilities, and memory care facilities;
      2. healthcare delivery facilities (such as hospitals, clinics, medical offices, dialysis centers, ,) where patient care is provided, as well as medical first responders (regardless of work location);
      3. jails and other correctional facilities; and
      4. congregate shelters.

      This Order builds on the State Health Officer’s vaccination mandates—which were most recently updated on February 22, 2022—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.
      • 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.)

      All persons and entities must comply with both State and local 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.

      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.

      Ensuring that  individuals working in higher-risk settings are both vaccinated and boosted when eligible is critical given the 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 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.

      Yes, but only if they have an individually approved medical or religious exemption and adhere to certain minimum safety standards.  Those minimum standards include (1) once or twice weekly testing for COVID-19 (depending on setting) and (2) use of surgical masks or higher-level protection.   In addition, the Order sets forth additional safety measures that businesses and governmental entities are strongly encouraged to review and implement, and factors that they should take into consideration.

      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.”

      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.  Also, those personnel with a documented, recent COVID-19 infection may defer their booster by up to 90 days from the start of their infection.

      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 a person tests positive for COVID-19, they are not eligible for a booster until the latest of the following:

      • After 10 full calendar days following the first day of symptoms
      • After 10 full calendar days following the day that the first positive specimen was collected for testing (if asymptomatic)
      • After 24 hours fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms are mild and resolving

      In addition, a fully vaccinated person may want to defer their booster by up to 90 days from the start of a documented COVID-19 infection to improve overall protection from COVID-19.

      If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they are not eligible for a booster until the latest of the following:

      • After 10 full calendar days following the first day of symptoms
      • After 10 full calendar days following the day that the first positive specimen was collected for testing (if asymptomatic)
      • After 24 hours fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms are mild and resolving

      In addition, a fully vaccinated person may want to defer their booster by up to 90 days from the start of a documented COVID-19 infection to improve overall protection from COVID-19.

      No.  If you are fully vaccinated and have received your first booster shot, you are not required to obtain a second booster shot under the County’s vaccination requirements at this time.  If the County requires a second booster shot, it will provide notice to personnel who must obtain it.  You may, however, choose to get a second booster now if you are eligible.

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      Face Coverings

      Vaccines remain the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19. Nonetheless, COVID-19 is infecting a percentage of the vaccinated – who remain strongly protected against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Further, 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 indoor masking will no longer be required beginning March 2, 2022 as noted in the Rescission of August 2, 2021 Health Order Requiring Use of Face Coverings Indoors By All Persons. However, the Public Health Department and the California Department of Public Health strongly recommend that all persons continue to wear masks in all indoor public spaces.

      The California Department of Public Health continues to require masking in higher-risk settings such as  healthcare facilities, shelters, jails, and long-term care facilities. The California Department of Public Health also strongly recommends that individuals continue to wear a mask on public transit and in transportation hubs. For information on the State’s requirements, please see CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings and Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards (“Cal/OSHA ETS”).

        A face covering should be well-fitted to an individual and cover the nose and mouth, especially while talking. A face covering does not include a scarf, ski mask, bandana, or any mask that has a single layer of fabric or 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.

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        Consistent with state guidelines, the following people are generally exempt from indoor use of face coverings when required:

        • 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 may 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.

        Individuals and businesses in Santa Clara County must continue to follow the State’s rules on face coverings. The California Department of Public Health continues to require masking in higher-risk settings such as healthcare and long-term care facilities, shelters, and jails. For information on the State’s requirements, please see CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings and Cal/OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards (“Cal/OSHA ETS”).

        In addition, businesses and governmental entities should post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor settings to communicate any face covering requirements to 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.

        Although not a legal mandate, the Health Officer recommends use of face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, in crowded outdoor settings. 

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        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 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.

          No, there are no longer any State or County social distancing requirements.

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          Ascertainment of Vaccination Status of Employees

           

            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.

            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”).

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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. 

            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. 

            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.

            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. 

            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. 

            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.
               

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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.

            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.

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

            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.

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            Access and Functional Needs

              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.

              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.

              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.

              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].

              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.

              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.

              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.

              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.

              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.

              Face coverings are an important tool for stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are not vaccinated OR vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not yet received their booster dose, 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.

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

              To report a business operating in violation of the ADA, please contact the city in which the business is located.

              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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