While the State of California is lifting its masking requirements for healthcare settings on April 3, a new Contra Costa County health order will take effect on the same day that will require staff in local skilled nursing facilities (SNF) to continue to wear masks.
The order will also apply to paramedics, emergency medical technicians, contractors and vendors when they enter the 30 skilled nursing facilities in Contra Costa County. The order will not apply to patients and visitors of skilled nursing facilities.
The order also will not apply to assisted living facilities, residential-care facilities or board-and-care homes, although masking is still highly recommended in those settings. Hospitals and outpatient healthcare clinics in the County will not be subject to the new order, although local health systems can choose to enforce their own masking policies.
Dr. Ori Tzvieli, the County’s health officer, said hospitals have robust infection-control policies and personnel and can determine if and when masking is required.
“Requiring staff at SNFs to wear well-fitting masks will help protect their vulnerable elderly patients from being infected with COVID,” said Dr. Tzvieli. “We know from our experience during the pandemic that the people SNFs serve — seniors with serious underlying health problems — are teh ones who are the most susceptible to severe outcomes from a COVID infection.”
Since the pandemic began in 2020, 57 percent of the deaths from COVID in Contra Costa have been among people ages 75 and older.
California’s pandemic-related health emergency ended on Feb. 28.