With Friday’s end of countywide COVID-19 emergency declarations, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is aligning county safety measures with federal and state COVID-19 guidance, while continuing to require a few common-sense measures at worksites, educational institutions and health care facilities to reduce COVID-19-related disruptions and protect the people at highest risk of severe illness.
At worksites and educational settings, COVID-19 isolation and notification guidelines for staff are set by CAL/OSHA. Public Health’s newly issued school guidance align with both CAL/OSHA and state Department of Public Health recommendations, as follows:
School employees (as with all other employees subject to CAL/OSHA regulations) who have tested positive must isolate at home for at least five days and can only return to their worksite between days 6-10 if they are fever-free and wearing a mask when around others. Students who have tested positive are also required to isolate at home for five days and, if returning to school between days 6-10, should wear a well-fitting mask when indoors around others.
Schools are required to notify employees who are close contacts of a confirmed case and provide exposed workers with free testing. While schools are not required to notify parents of an exposed student, Public Health strongly recommends that schools notify the parents of students who were exposed to a case of COVID-19 during its infectious period at school.
Public Health also is maintaining its tracking of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and requiring schools, worksites, skilled nursing facilities and other entities to report clusters of COVID-19 cases. Reporting allows for early intervention to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce disruptions, protect vulnerable residents and assist facilities to improve their infection control practices.
While for many residents and workers, masking and vaccination protective measures are now recommended and not required, because there are so many vulnerable people in health care settings, enhanced protections among health care workers in Los Angeles County remain in place.
Health care workers must wear protective face coverings when providing patient care or in patient care areas. Requirements for masking by visitors or patients is at the discretion of the facility, although Public Health strongly recommends that facilities continue to have their patients and visitors wear masks in public spaces. All Public Health clinics and vaccination sites will require that everyone at these sites wear a well-fitting mask and free masks will remain available for workers, patients and visitors.
In addition, new health care employees will need to comply with the existing vaccination requirements; all currently employed health care workers have completed their primary series and one booster dose or received an exemption from their facility. There are similar federal requirements for health care workers in facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid funding.
The guidelines for health care facilities will be reassessed by September to take into account any changes in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration vaccination guidance.
Most public health response measures are not affected by the ending of local COVID-19 emergency declarations. For information about vaccines, to access testing, and/or to receive therapeutics, call 1-833-540-0473, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For more information on other non-health-related changes with the lifting of the L.A. County emergency COVID declarations, visit lacounty.gov/covid-emergency-ending.
“I offer my heartfelt condolences and wishes of peace and healing to anyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a prepared statement. “With no new strains proliferating, I am optimistic we will remain in the Low Community Level this spring and my hope is that our hospitalization and death rates continue to decline. I would love to see our lowest-ever numbers since the pandemic started – that has not happened yet and in order for it to happen, we will have to take advantage of all the tools and resources that helped us get to where we are today and to be aware of how our actions affect those in our community who are most vulnerable to severe illness.”
A wide range of data and dashboards on COVID-19 from the L.A. County Department of Public Health are available on the Public Health website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.