Santa Clara County loses last COVID mandate
Santa Clara County Public Health Officer reflects on the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic on the day the state reopened. Photo by Vicente Vera.

Santa Clara County Public Health discontinued the last of its COVID-related regulations on Monday.

Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health officer, issued an order eliminating remaining local requirements such as teleworking and social distancing, but businesses and governments will still need to determine the vaccination status of personnel through self-attestation.

On Friday, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) decided that fully-vaccinated employees can shed their masks but still requires employers to document worker vaccination status. 

Fully vaccinated employees don’t need to physically distance or wear face coverings indoors, except when riding public transit, at schools, health care facilities, correctional facilities, homeless and emergency shelters. Employers must provide face coverings upon request.

Face coverings are not required for unvaccinated workers who are alone, eating and drinking or when job duties make them infeasible or hazardous.

Businesses no longer need to report worker vaccination status to the county and Cal/OSHA will do follow-up enforcement, said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams.

Dr. Sara Cody, director of Santa Clara County Public Health, has discontinued the last of its COVID-related regulations.

Businesses that followed the county’s request are already in compliance with Cal/OSHA’s order, Williams said. The county asked businesses to request the vaccination status of their workers and follow up one time with unvaccinated employees by June 14. He noted that it’s still important for those not fully vaccinated to use face coverings and exercise safety precautions.

“We are pleased that the county’s proactive vaccine ascertainment effort now allows employers in our community the ability to legally implement the new Cal/OSHA regulations,” Williams said. “With today’s announcement… there are no broader local health orders in effect in Santa Clara County.”

Cody said she’s grateful for the high vaccination levels in the county and Bay Area.

As of June 21, 119,712 Santa Clara County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,188 have died. About 80% of residents age 12+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 71.3% of residents are fully vaccinated.

“We have the highest vaccination rate of any large county in the United States,” Cody said. “Our communities took COVID very seriously. People really stepped up… and when we asked them to shelter in their homes and socially distance, most people did.”

Cody cautioned that as the pandemic isn’t over yet and as herd immunization can be localized, vaccinations are still important.

“People who are not vaccinated are not protected,” she said.

The county is partnering with organizations to combat misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Cody said the benefits of getting vaccinated “vastly outweigh any risks.”

“We take risks every day when we get in our cars… when we cross the street,” she said. “These vaccines have a risk, but it is tiny and the benefit is tremendous. The benefit of the vaccines have gotten us where we are today… getting back to our lives.”

Cody said the county will work on increasing vaccination rates, especially for vulnerable communities, so no one is left behind.

“We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that every last person that should be vaccinated, is able to be vaccinated and wants to be vaccinated, gets vaccinated because that protects our community as well as the individual,” she said.

Under the state’s rules, face coverings are still required—regardless of vaccination status—in health care settings, at schools, childcare centers, on public transit, in jails and correctional facilities as well as at homeless and emergency shelters.

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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