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Sonoma County Public Health strongly recommends that all employers in the county require workers to provide proof of full vaccination for COVID-19, including a booster if eligible, or show proof of at least twice weekly COVID-19 testing. In addition, employers should consider requiring employees who are unvaccinated, or who have not received the booster and are eligible, to wear FDA-cleared surgical masks or respirators in indoor work settings.
The relaxing of community and workplace transmission protections since mid-June in California and the rapid spread of the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19, which are much more contagious than the original strains of the virus, have led to significantly higher case rates, and a higher risk of transmission at businesses and workplaces as a result. Local and national data show that fully vaccinated and boosted people are far less likely to catch COVID-19 or require hospitalization than people who are unvaccinated or who have not received a booster.
This recommendation is currently optional for most employers. On Dec. 23, 2021, Sonoma County Public Health issued an order requiring all employers of fire, law enforcement, emergency medical service workers, pharmacies, dental offices and operators of temporary disaster shelters in Sonoma County to require personnel to get tested at least twice weekly for COVID-19 or produce satisfactory evidence that they have received a booster for COVID-19 (if eligible). Separately, an additional health order was issued for education workers with the same requirements
Employers can play a critical role in ensuring a safe workplace environment and increasing vaccination rates among working-age individuals. A vaccination policy benefits employers because the quarantine requirements are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. Currently, an employee who is not vaccinated must quarantine for at least 10 days if exposed to someone who tested positive, whereas fully vaccinated workers do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms. Requiring documentation of COVID-19 vaccination, rather than self-attestation, is the best practice for employers to ensure workers are adhering to the appropriate workplace protections. Additional employer resources are available from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, convenient, and free regardless of immigration status or proof of health insurance. For information about finding a COVID-19 vaccine location, visit Sonoma County COVID-19 Vaccine Information – Sonoma County Emergency and Preparedness Information (socoemergency.org). For more information about free COVID-19 testing, visit: COVID-19 Testing & Tracing in Sonoma County – Sonoma County Emergency and Preparedness Information (socoemergency.org)
Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD MPH
Health Officer of the County of Sonoma