Sonoma County’s health officer has issued a new order requiring all congregate care facilities to screen all staff and visitors for signs of illness and adhere to a strict mask-wearing policy to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The order, which went into effect April 17, applies to all medical care facilities, licensed residential care facilities, including nursing and senior care facilities, psychiatric facilities, group homes, residential recovery houses and homeless shelters.
The order stipulates that before starting work, all staff in congregate settings and first responders must perform a symptom screen and have their temperature taken.
(Image: Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy admit a patient in Los Angeles, March 29, 2020. Credit: US Nacy)
Anyone who is not a patient or resident at a patient care facility must wear a medical-grade isolation or surgical mask at all times while in the facility, and submit to a temperature and symptom screening upon entry.
“It’s critical that we do all we can to protect our first responders, medically vulnerable patients, and people who must be cared for outside the home in congregate settings,” said Susan Gorin, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “This country has already witnessed how quickly the virus can spread in these settings.”
Non-clinical facilities that provide overnight care and day services have the option of requiring staff and visitors to wear fabric or cloth face coverings instead of medical-grade masks.
Additional requirements for patient care facilities include social distancing in meal and break rooms, and avoiding the use of employees or staff who have worked at another facility within the past 14 days.
The order defines first responders as those who provide 24/7 emergency response, first aid care, or other related assistance either in the course of the person’s occupational duties or as a volunteer, such as peace officers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, rescue workers, certain social workers and certain animal control officers.
Visit SoCoEmergency.org to read the order or for more information about COVID-19.