• Coronavirus

Health Alert: Health Order Requiring Masking and Symptom Screening at Congregate Care and Living Facilities and for First Responders

Published:  April 16, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Effective April 17, 2020, the Health Officer has turned her guidance regarding masking of EMS providers and other first responders into an Order.  The Order also includes requirements for masking all individuals who enter a congregate care facility to work or visit, which effectively turns the guidance for all health care workers to wear masks into an order. 

The Order applies to the following facilities: all medical care facilities, licensed residential care facilities, nursing and senior care facilities, psychiatric facilities, group homes, residential recovery houses, and homeless shelters.

The Order does not apply to residents or patients of the facilities. People entering patient care facilities must wear medical-grade masks while in the facility. Other congregate care settings such as board and care homes and residential care facilities for the elderly have the option of requiring cloth facial coverings if medical-grade masks are unavailable. 

In addition to masking, all congregate care facilities, listed in the Order by type, must require staff and visitors to conduct a self-evaluation for the following symptoms:

  • sore throat,
  • coughing,
  • shortness of breath,
  • runny nose in the absence of known allergies,
  • unusual headaches,
  • severe fatigue,
  • fever,
  • chills,
  • gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or stomach cramps,
  • loss of sense of smell or taste. 

The Facility Operator or designee must also conduct a temperature screening.  Nobody with a temperature of 100 degrees F or greater or with symptoms included in the self-evaluation may enter the facility.

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.

“First responders” includes persons who provide 24/7 emergency response, first aid care, or other medically 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. 

Medical-grade masks do not need to be changed on a daily basis. They can be used for up to one week, unless soiled, torn, unable to cover mouth/nose, or otherwise compromised. Cloth facial coverings must be laundered after each shift before reuse.

Sundari Mase, MD, MPH
Health Officer
Department of Health Services
(707) 565-4426

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