County Administrator's Office
For Immediate Release

Health Order for Congregate Care and Living Facilities

Santa Rosa, CA  –  April 16, 2020  –  En Español

The County Health Officer issued a new Health Order requiring congregate care facility staff, visitors, and all first responders to wear masks and check symptoms before beginning work shift as a means to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Under the new Order, which becomes effective on April 17, at 12:01 a.m., congregate care facilities must screen all staff and visitors for signs of illness and adhere to a strict masking policy. First responders must wear medical-grade masks anytime they interact with the public or patients.

Prior to starting work, all staff in congregate settings and first responders must perform a symptom screen and have their temperature taken.

“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.”

The care facilities portion of the Order 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 protective actions of wearing a medical-grade isolation or surgical mask at all times while in the facility, and submitting to a temperature and symptom screening upon entry applies to anyone who is not a patient or resident at a patient care facility.

Facilities that provide care overnight and day services, and are non-clinical, have the option of requiring staff and visitors to cover their nose and mouth with a facial covering made from fabric or cloth. 

However, if medical-grade masks are available, they are encouraged to be used instead of a cloth or fabric facial covering.   

There are additional requirements for patient care facilities requiring social distancing in meal and break rooms, and avoiding, by any means possible, the use of employees or staff who have worked at another facility within the past 14 days in effort to prevent cross contamination.

The Order also specifies that first responders include 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.

“This latest Health Order was issued to further protect those at congregate care facilities as well as our first responders, who come into contact with the public.” said Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase. “Those at congregate care facilities are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and is a reason we have prioritized testing at these settings.”

Visit SoCoEmergency.org to read the order or for more information about COVID-19.

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Contact SSU

Paul Gullixson
Sonoma State University