Contra Costa County requiring masks, temp checks at health facilities

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Omicron variant detected in Contra Costa County
Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, speaks at a news conference on March 23, 2020.

Starting Tuesday, all residential care and other licensed healthcare facilities within Contra Costa County must screen all staff and visitors for signs of illness and adhere to a strict mask-wearing policy, according to a new health officer order.

Anyone not a patient or resident at an applicable facility — which includes nursing and senior care facilities, psychiatric facilities, group homes, residential recovery houses and homeless shelters — must undergo temperature and symptom screening, and facilities must not allow in anyone who has had symptoms of respiratory illness or fever in the past seven days, or a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the order states.

The facilities must now log screenings of staff and visitors, who all must wear surgical masks, or cloth masks if surgical masks are not available at the facility, while also practicing physical distancing, according to the order.

The new policy follows reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities. In 37 states, at least 2,300 such facilities have reported positive cases and more than 3,000 residents have died, according to USA Today, which obtained data from state agencies. In Contra Costa, dozens of patients have been sickened in outbreaks at senior care facilities in Orinda and Pleasant Hill.

“The age and health of many county residents, particularly those living in congregate care settings, places them at higher risk of serious health complications, including death, from COVID-19,” Contra Costa Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said. “This order is another precaution we can take as a community to protect our vulnerable residents.”

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to read the order or for more information about COVID-19.