California Department of Public Health’s New Order Regarding Healthcare Workers

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On July 26, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued a new order affecting a broad range of healthcare employers and employees. In short, this order requires all unvaccinated or not-fully-vaccinated employees to undergo regular weekly testing for COVID-19. The order also contains vaccination verification and masking requirements for healthcare workers.     The CDPH Order applies to the following facilities:  

  1. Acute Health Care and Long-Term Care Settings:
  2. General Acute Care Hospitals
  3. Skilled Nursing Facilities (including Subacute Facilities)
  4. Intermediate Care Facilities

 High-Risk Congregate Settings:

  1. Adult and Senior Care Facilities
  2. Homeless Shelters
  3. State and Local Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers

 Other Health Care Settings:    

  1. Acute Psychiatric Hospitals
  2. Adult Day Health Care Centers
  3. Adult Day Programs Licensed by the California Department of Social Services
  4. Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and PACE Centers
  5. Ambulatory Surgery Centers
  6. Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospitals
  7. Clinics & Doctor Offices (including behavioral health, surgical)
  8. Congregate Living Health Facilities
  9. Dental Offices
  10. Dialysis Centers
  11. Hospice Facilities
  12. Pediatric Day Health and Respite Care Facilities
  13. Residential Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Treatment Facilities

    All of the facilities described above must verify all of their employees’ vaccine status. Employees may demonstrate they have been vaccinated by providing their vaccination card, a photo of their vaccination card, documentation from the employee’s healthcare provider, among other methods.   Employers must also provide respirators (e.g., N-95s) to all unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated employees upon request. All employees must adhere to CDPH masking guidance as well as Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) Standard.   Lastly, the testing requirements vary depending on the type of healthcare facility. Unvaccinated employees in acute and long-term care settings are required to undergo at least twice weekly testing for COVID-19, either by PCR or antigen testing. High-risk congregate settings and all other healthcare settings are required to have their unvaccinated employees undergo PCR or antigen testing at least once weekly. Unfortunately, as of yet there is not much guidance as to how the testing should take place and what employers should do if an unvaccinated employee tests positive. One thing is for certain – unvaccinated employees should not be required to pay for COVID-19 testing, and they should be compensated for any time spent waiting to undergo testing.   The CDPH Order shall go into effect on August 9, 2021, and CDPH expects all healthcare facilities to be in full compliance by August 23, 2021. Please reach out to your designated MMC HR Services representative for any questions or concerns.