DATE OF ORDER: AUGUST 4, 2021
Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor and may be punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code § 120275, et seq.)
UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTIONS 101040, 101085, AND 120175, THE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE COUNTY OF SONOMA (“HEALTH OFFICER”) ORDERS:
- Summary. This Order of the Health Officer requires Employers of Law Enforcement, Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and operators of Temporary Disaster Shelters in Sonoma County to require Personnel to get tested weekly for the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) or produce satisfactory evidence that they are Fully Vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Effective Date and Time. This Order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on September 1, 2021.
- Basis for Order. On July 26, 2021, California Department of Public Health issued an order requiring employers of high-risk health care and congregate settings to verify the vaccine status of all workers and requires that unvaccinated or unverified workers be required to undergo routine surveillance testing (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Order-of-the-State-Public-Health-Officer-Unvaccinated-Workers-In-High-Risk-Settings.aspx). I have reviewed the Order and determined that the order is not sufficient enough to protect our community because Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Temporary Disaster Shelters are critical to public health and safety and these groups regularly interact with high-risk health care and congregate settings as well as with medically vulnerable individuals in the community.
This Order is being issued in light of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant anticipated to become the dominant strain of the SARSCoV-2 virus in the United States, including the County, within weeks. This variant is more contagious and causes more severe illness than previous strains of SARS-CoV-2. With the easing of COVID-19 prevention restrictions since June 15, workers in Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Temporary Disaster Shelters now have potentially more exposure risk outside the workplace. Furthermore, the risk for this Personnel may exponentially increase should a disaster event occur in our community as we near wildfire season in our area.Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective means of preventing infection with the COVID-19 virus, with the risk of infection reduced by 70 percent to 95 percent. Vaccination also appears to reduce the chance of transmission by an infected vaccinated person by 40 percent to 60 percent. The combination of reduced infection risk plus reduced transmission risk provides a very high level of protection for patients and residents who are in close proximity to a worker. In contrast, the wearing of face coverings reduces transmission by an infected person by about 70 percent; however, the combination of wearing face coverings and regular testing, followed by isolation of individuals who test positive, may approach the level of efficacy vaccination provides in terms of reduction of transmission risk.Cal/OSHA Regulations generally allow documentation of vaccination status by self-attestation. I have determined that, for purposes of this Order, documentation of the vaccination status of people who work in Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Temporary Disaster Shelters must be based on more reliable documentation than a self-attestation. I have also determined that anyone who meets the criteria and are not documented as Fully Vaccinated must be tested at least weekly for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- COVID-19 Test Requirements. Except as set forth in Section 5 of this Order, an Employer shall require all of its Personnel to do the following:
Employer may confirm a positive antigen test with a confirmatory nucleic acid amplification test; Employer shall not use another antigen test to confirm a positive antigen test. Employer must exclude from work any Personnel who receives a positive antigen test until the Employer receives results from a confirmatory nucleic acid amplification test.
- Receive a COVID-19 Test at least once a week; and
- Unless test results are sent directly to the Employer by the test provider, Personnel must promptly provide the results of each COVID-19 test to the Employer for Record-Keeping.
- Fully Vaccinated Personnel. An Employer may exempt an individual member of its Personnel from the COVID-19 Test requirements set forth in Section 4 of this Order if the individual first presents to the Employer one of the following:
In the absence of knowledge to the contrary, an Employer may accept the documentation presented as valid.Personnel who are not Fully Vaccinated, or for whom vaccine status is unknown or documentation is not provided, must be considered not Fully Vaccinated and are subject to COVID-19 Test Requirements (above).
- COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (issued by the CDC or WHO Yellow Card) which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered); or
- a photo of a Vaccination Record Card as a separate document; or
- a photo of the client’s Vaccination Record Card stored on a phone or electronic device; or
- documentation of COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider; or
- digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader displays to the reader client name, date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type. The QR code must also confirm the vaccine record as an official record of the state of California; or
- documentation of vaccination from another Employer who is also subject to this Order.
- Record-Keeping Requirements. An Employer must keep and maintain a record of the following information for the purpose of inspection by an authorized representative of the Health Officer:
- For Personnel who provide the Employer with documentation of Fully Vaccinated status in accordance with Section 5 of this Order: (1) Full name and date of birth; (2) COVID19 Vaccine manufacturer; and (3) date of COVID-2 Vaccine administration (first dose, and if applicable, second dose).
- For other Personnel: COVID-19 Test results.
- Face Covering Requirement. Operator shall require all of its Personnel to comply with the Order of the Health Officer (C19-25). Personnel who are not Fully Vaccinated, or for whom vaccine status is unknown or documentation is not provided, must wear FDA-cleared surgical masks or respirators in indoor work settings, unless exempted from wearing a face covering under Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards and/or the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standards.
- Definitions. For purposes of this Order, the following terms have the meanings given below.
- “CDC” means the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- “COVID-19 Test” means a nucleic acid amplification or antigen test to detect infection of a person with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- “COVID-19 Vaccine” means a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 that is (1) administered under an emergency use authorization from the FDA; (2) approved by the FDA; or (3) listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.
- “FDA” means the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- “Fully Vaccinated” means a person’s status two weeks following the person’s receipt of a single-dose COVID-19 Vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 Vaccine.
- “Law Enforcement” means all law enforcement officers and administrative/clerical support staff working in (1) the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office; (2) any police department of a city within Sonoma County; (3) the Sonoma County Junior College District Police Department; and (4) the Sonoma State Police Department.
- “Fire” means all firefighters and administrative/clerical support staff, including part-time, stipend and volunteer.
- “Emergency Medical Services” and “EMS” means all prehospital emergency medical care personnel and administrative/clerical support staff, including but not limited to: authorized registered nurse or mobile intensive care nurse, emergency medical technician-I, emergency medical technician-II, emergency medical technician-paramedic, or a physician and surgeon who provides prehospital emergency medical care or rescue services.
- “Temporary Disaster Shelters” means include small-, medium- and large-scale, organized, and temporary accommodations for persons displaced by disasters. Facilities may be residential (e.g., dormitories, campsites) or non-residential (e.g., sports stadiums, schools, churches).
- “Employer” means an employer of Law Enforcement, Fire, or Emergency Medical Services, or an operator of Temporary Disaster Shelter in Sonoma County.
- “Personnel” means employees and volunteers of an Employer.
- “WHO” means the World Health Organization.
- Copies; Contact Information. Copies of the Order shall promptly be made available (1) at the County Administration Center at 575 Administration Drive in Santa Rosa (2) by posting on the County’s website and (3) to any member of the public requesting a copy.
IT IS SO ORDERED:
Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD, MPH Date
Health Officer, County of Sonoma
Frequently asked questions
The latest health order requires all Sonoma County fire, law enforcement, EMS and disaster shelter staff and volunteers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing.
The health order comes with a strong recommendation that all employers require their workers to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. The County of Sonoma as an employer plans to adopt this policy.
Current state and federal employment law supports employers requiring documentation of vaccination status, requiring vaccination as a condition of employment, and requiring additional safety precautions including masking and frequent testing for employees who are unvaccinated.
Public safety personnel are essential workers who come into frequent contact with the public. As we prepare for fire season, it is important that public safety workers are safe and protected from the virus so that they can perform their jobs.
A growing number of corporations including Google, Disney, and Walmart have begun mandating that their employees show proof of vaccination to protect against the spread of COVID-19. A number of local businesses have done the same including some restaurants, which have begun requiring proof of vaccination from customers before being allowed to dine indoors.
Who does the Order apply to? Are workers who work remotely or not in the office covered by the Order?
The Order applies to all workers, including administrative/clerical support staff as well as volunteers, who work for Law Enforcement, Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and operators of Temporary Disaster Shelters (as they are defined in the order) and who have the potential for direct or indirect workplace exposure to members of the public or to other workers subject to this Order. To the extent that remote staff, or those not working in the office, do not meet this definition, then they would not be covered by this Order.
Workers who are not fully vaccinated are subject to weekly testing. These workers do not need to test while on vacation, or extended leave of absence from work, for longer than a week. However, they must test before returning to work, or whenever they come to their workplace.
Does this Order apply to volunteers working for Law Enforcement, Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and operators of Temporary Disaster Shelters?
Yes, the Order applies to all part-time, stipend and volunteer workers.
Does this Order apply to contractors working for Law Enforcement, Fire, Emergency Medical Services, and operators of Temporary Disaster Shelters?
The Order applies to workers, including administrative/clerical support staff, whether part-time, stipend or volunteers of an Employer.