Lake County, CA (September 4, 2020) — 360 total cases of COVID-19 have been documented in Lake County. 38 are under active Public Health monitoring. Sadly, 5 have now died. 0 are currently hospitalized.
Update on Skilled Nursing Facility Outbreak
4 staff members have now tested positive, and 5 total residents. Tragically, 2 have passed away. Similar concerning situations have arisen in other counties around the state. The facility is working with local public health and state regulators to ensure everything is being done to protect staff and residents.
Business Owners and Organizational Leaders: “What do I do if an employee tests positive?”
Businesses, non-profits, and schools are asking, “What do I do if an employee tests positive?” Guidance is on our website (“Return to Work Tool for Local Businesses”). Soon, further guidance will be available to local businesses at http://health.co.lake.ca.us/Coronavirus/Businesses.htm.
While protocols help, each situation is a little different. Business owners should contact us if they have a case, and aren’t sure what to do. We generally contact a business if a case is identified in their workplace. However, if you hear before we do, don’t hesitate to reach out, at 707-263-8174.
We are trying to balance risk of transmission with businesses’ need to continue functioning in this new era:
• If an employee tests positive, they should be off work for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or the date of sampling for the test.
• If an employee has close contact with someone who is positive, the usual recommendation is to be off work for 14 days (the difference from the previous recommendation is due to the need for a few days for the virus to grow enough to cause symptoms or trigger a positive test).
o This 14 day recommendation continues even if they get a negative test, because the virus can below detectable levels at the time of the test. It can grow and the person can become contagious at any time during the 14 day period.
o The 14 days may be negotiable, depending on the amount of contact they had with the positive case, and also depending on their role at the workplace and risk of spreading the illness widely.
• If an employee is exposed to a known contact of a case, they are usually told to continue working, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing, and watch for symptoms.
Communicating with the public about a positive employee can be challenging, but we believe businesses that are more transparent will generally have better long-term trust with their patrons.
Closing a business for a period can be helpful if disinfecting is needed, or if time is needed to sort out which employees or patrons had contact with the case. County Environmental Health staff, 707-263-1164, can help.
All of these scenarios are much less concerning if people wear masks and maintain distancing. Transmission of the virus is drastically reduced when employees and the public follow these simple measures.
Gary Pace, MD, MPH
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