Santa Cruz County health officials, employers talk protocol of COVID curfew

SANTA CRUZ — A little more than 24 hours before Santa Cruz County and many others categorized in the California coronavirus measurement model’s purple tier fall subject to a month-long, stay-at-home order, local health experts and business owners talked online about workplace protocol.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across California, all counties in the purple tier of the state’s coronavirus measurement model would be required to follow the order.

The order, set in place to “flatten the curve again” according to Newsom, will remain in place for a month. As part of the order, non-essential work and gatherings are banned from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The order could be extended if disease trends don’t improve.

Representatives of the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency held their first COVID-19 virtual town hall specifically for employers on Friday afternoon. Topics such as employee and employer resources, case reporting laws and upcoming changes in employer responsibility were delved into. No industry-specific guidance or answers about enforcement — around county, state and federal safety mandates — were offered.

Jennifer Herrera, Santa Cruz County Chief of Public Health, went over an update about where the county fell in terms of COVID-19 recovery progress. Though person-to-person household transmission is still the county’s most likely source of virus transmission, the workplace is affected, she explained. Some people go to work symptomatic, others relax precautions in gathering places such as the break room and some coworkers live together. Though Santa Cruz County is still host to fewer cases total than many other surrounding counties according to the county’s coronavirus dashboard “Comparison” tab, its trajectory of cases has soared even greater than the summer spike.

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“This is not something we had seen previously in this pandemic,” Herrera said as a map was displayed on screen. “You can see that it is a sea of purple (on the map). Most counties are in the purple (tier) and scaling back industries to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Despite the obvious worry being a loss of sales from restricted hours and operation, employers also need to consider how they are educating their staff on industry guidelines and business-specific protocol. They should also begin a line list, or a contact tracing form employers must turn into Health Services Agency, before it’s necessary, Herrera said. Line lists need to be submitted to the county in accordance with CalOSHA laws and Assembly Bill 685, signed by Newsom in September, when three or more employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, employers will be mandated to inform all employees who may have been exposed to the virus due to their proximity with a COVID-positive coworker, Santa Cruz County Public Health Manager Emily Chung said. According to the health agency’s website, symptomatic employees must wait at least 10 days after their symptoms first appear and 24 hours after their last reported fever to return to work. Asymptomatic individuals must wait at least 10 days since the date of their first …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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