Santa Clara County health workers must remain masked

Santa Clara County health workers must remain masked

Santa Clara County is requiring masks to be worn in hospitals and other high-risk settings, days after the state eased COVID-19 restrictions.

County Executive Jeff Smith sent an email to staff on Tuesday evening advising them that workers and visitors should continue to wear masks in county facilities, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes long-term care, prisons and homeless shelters. The policy also applies to medical first responders when providing care.

Smith told San Jose Spotlight that the decision is not a public health order, but an administrative policy.

“In light of the unique and ongoing risks of COVID-19 transmission in high-risk settings, the County is maintaining its current requirement that County staff and visitors to high-risk environments at County facilities wear face coverings. -compliant faces indoors in those higher risk establishments. risk parameters,” Smith said in the email to staff.

The email arrives a day later California has eased restrictions on masking, as well as no longer requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The state also said people with the virus can end isolation after five days. Santa Clara County responded quickly to the coronavirus, being the first in the nation to declare a public health emergency on February 10, 2020 for the virus, when there were two confirmed cases of the disease in the county and 13 nationwide.

Allan Kamara, president of the Professional Association of Registered Nurses of Santa Clara County, said union members were frustrated with the decision. He fielded calls and text messages from members opposed to the policy.

“County union employees shouldn’t be held to a different standard than other county healthcare workers like those at Stanford and Kaiser,” Kamara San José Spotlight. “The county should follow state orders regarding easing restrictions.”

Smith’s directive comes at a time when county officials, healthcare workers and advocates are trying to balance between loosening restrictions where possible in the face of changing public behavior, while protecting residents at high risk of serious infection and caring for populations such as the homeless and incarcerated.

“I think local health officials will have to assess their own level and tolerance for the risk of transmission now that federal and state governments are lifting emergency measures,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of global health, of infectious diseases and epidemiology at Stanford University School. of medicine, told San José Spotlight. “It will be a time of transition as we see how omicron continues to flow through communities.”

Maldonado said she awaits the upcoming approval by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a second bivalent booster to further reduce the risk of hospitalizations and death in vulnerable people.

Contact Josh Ram at (email protected) or @JoshuaWRam on Twitter.

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