WITH increased COVID-19 transmission in Los Angeles County and new variants of concern, health officials are encouraging to employers to use “common sense strategies” to keep employees and customers safe.
Employers can improve workplace safety by connecting employees to testing, vaccinations, and therapeutics; screening to prevent those who are symptomatic from entering; providing staff working indoors in contact with others with well-fitting respirator masks; communicating policies on isolation and quarantine and notifications of exposures; improving ventilation; and reporting all clusters of three or more cases immediately to the LA County Department of Public Health.
Officials reminded employers that they are are required to offer free medical grade masks and respirators (N95, KN95, KF94) to employees working indoors in close contact with other workers, customers, and/or members of the public at all sites where masking indoors is optional. At worksites where masking remains required, employers need to provide employees with free, well-fitting medical masks.
Employers are also obligated to offer testing free of charge during work hours to any employee exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Implementation of these safety measures can reduce the number of outbreaks at worksites, which are now increasing. For the week ending April 28, there were 30 active outbreaks across non-healthcare, non-residential, non-educational worksites. One month ago, for the week ending March 31, there were 10 active worksite outbreaks.
During the month of April, there were 42 new outbreaks across non-healthcare, non-residential, non-educational worksites. The highest number of new outbreaks (10) this month was reported by the information sector (which includes the motion picture and sound recording industries; data processing, hosting and related services; and broadcasting). The manufacturing sector (non-food) reported five new outbreaks, followed by the real estate and rental and leasing, accommodation and food service, and food and beverage store sectors that each had three new outbreaks in April.
In order to reduce transmission at worksites, employers are required to report any cluster of worksite COVID-19 cases to the Department of Public Health. A cluster is three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the worksite within a 14-day period. Reports to Public Health should be made as soon as possible and no later than 48 hours after reports or knowledge of at least three cases. Worksites can report a cluster to Public Health online or by phone: 1-888-397-3993. If Public Health determines that there is an outbreak at a worksite, employees are required to mask both indoors and, if they can’t be socially distanced, outdoors as well.
Workers concerned about possible COVID-19 violations or other workplace safety concerns have several options for filing a complaint. To file a complaint with Public Health, which can be submitted anonymously, workers can call the Environmental Health Customer Call Center at (888) 700-9995 or click on the “Report a Problem” at www.ph.lacounty.gov/eh. To file a complaint with Cal/OSHA about employee safety, workplace safety, or hazardous conditions, workers can call (833) 579-0927 or call or email the local Cal/OSHA Enforcement Office that serves the location of the job site.
Mobile vaccination teams can be booked by employers, organizations and those hosting special events. These mobile units offer vaccines and boosters to employees and customers and can be arranged by filling out this form or finding a provider at http://ph.lacounty.gov/acd/ncorona2019/vaccine/providerfinder/ and contacting them directly.
Workers who test positive may be eligible for therapeutics and are encouraged to talk to their doctor to learn more. Workers that do not have access to a clinical provider can call the COVID-19 Medication Telehealth Service, which can help assess their eligibility for these treatments and, if eligible, arranges for them to receive the medication. Individuals who are determined by our Telehealth provider to be eligible for oral antivirals can choose to be referred to their provider or a Test to Treat site to receive the medications; or they can have a prescription sent to a nearby pharmacy; or have the medication shipped to them overnight at no charge.
Workers who think that they may be a candidate for therapeutics or have questions can call (833) 540-0473 or visit http://www.ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicines or http://www.ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicamentos. Public Health staff is available seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.
“I send my deepest sympathies and wishes of peace and comfort to the many families who have lost a loved one from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “While relieved that the latest increases in cases are not yet accompanied by corresponding increases in hospitalizations, the higher rate of infection we are experiencing causes substantial disruption and leads to a vicious cycle of more transmission is worrisome. With high transmission comes the risk of breeding new variants of concern, the possibility of more people experiencing long COVID, and increased risk among those more vulnerable to severe illness should they become infected. Curtailing outbreaks at worksites can help slow down transmission back in the communities and we thank those employers that continue to have in place safety measures that keep employees and customers as safe as possible. Let’s also each do our best to reduce the risk of getting infected by getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a well-fitting medical mask or respirator indoors, staying home if sick getting tested if we have symptoms or have been exposed, and following isolation and quarantine rules to avoid spreading the virus.”
Public Health reported 13 additional deaths and 2,728 new cases Saturday, 1,824 new cases Sunday and 1,368 new positive cases on Monday, May 2. The number of cases and deaths are likely to reflect reporting delays over the weekend. Of the 13 new deaths reported today, six were between the ages of 50-64, two were between the ages of 65-79, and five were aged 80 years or older. Of the 13 newly reported deaths, 12 had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in LA County is 31,970
Public Health has reported a total of 2,877,960 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County. The current positivity rate is 1.6%.
There are 225 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 11,862,200 individuals, with 22% of people testing positive. n