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By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2020 (San Diego) – Employers across San Diego County must now disclose to all employees if an outbreak of COVID 19, defined as three or more cases within 14 days, occurs at the workplace. The mandate was issued by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the County’s public health officer, NBC 7 reports.

Previously, businesses were recommended, but not required, to provide such notification of an outbreak. In addition, businesses are now strongly urged to provide notification of even a single employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 in the workplace, under the new public health order.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher made the announcement in a press briefing on Wednesday, indicating that while most businesses have acted responsibly, “with the growing number of outbreaks we're seeing, we're gonna go the extra step to ensure that employees are notified if there was an outbreak…We want to make sure that employers are notifying every employee at that physical location, even if they were not in close contact, that there has been an outbreak at their place of employment, and give them instructions about steps and things that they should take."

While most community outbreaks have occurred in bars or restaurants, a significant number have also occurred in other businesses ranging from offices and manufacturing facilities to a  salon/barber shop and a gym in Pacific Beach that was operating illegally indoors in defiance of a county shutdown order.

On July 27, the County also issued new guidelines for when employees can return to work, based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.

Employers no longer have to require that employees who tested positive for COVID-19 be tested again before returning to work and ending home isolation, under these conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since mild to moderate symptoms began, the person has not had a fever for 24 hours without taking fever reducing medications, and symptoms have resolved.
  • A limited number of people who have severe or critical illness or are severely immunocompromised are recommended to wait 20 days after symptoms developed and one day after fever resolution and improving symptoms.
  • People who are severely immunocompromised but have no symptoms can leave isolation after 20 days after testing positive.
  • People who tested positive for the novel coronavirus but never developed symptoms can stop isolation 10 days after their first positive diagnostic test virus.

Dr. Wooten added, “Employers must ensure that employees have met the new criteria to be released from isolation.”

As of Wednesday, 552 deaths and 28,287 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in San Diego County since Feb. 14.  

The County remains above three of the state’s trigger levels mandating the rollback of some business openings. Those triggers include positive test rates, hospitalizations and community outbreaks.


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