County Re-openings Begin This Week
County re-openings began this week, with new criteria for both loosening and tightening restrictions, based on what has been learned about how COVID-19 spreads. Effective Aug. 31, the state is using a four-tiered designation — widespread, substantial, moderate, and minimal — to determine the level of reopening indoor businesses within each county. This replaces the previous county watch list.
Individual county status is available here. Currently, 87% of the state is at the most restrictive level (widespread). In those counties, hair salons and barbershops can reopen, as well as retail and shopping centers at 25% of capacity. Schools in the widespread tier may apply for waivers. To move to less restrictive tiers, counties must be on the same tier for at least three weeks and demonstrate two weeks straight of “stability” to move forward. As the reopening progresses, it is expected that cases will again rise, with hospitalizations increasing beginning in late September.
CDPH Clarifies Costs, MOUs for Urgent Staffing Resources
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released revised All-Facilities Letter (AFL) 20-46.2 regarding health care facility requests for urgent staffing resources. Hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities experiencing staffing shortages are directed to report the shortage as an unusual occurrence to CDPH. Additionally, they may seek staffing from their Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator, which can fulfill it or request it from the state. The state has been deploying Health Corps, California Medical Assistance Teams (CalMATs), and contracted staffing to health care facilities, upon request.
Previously, the AFL stated that facilities were required to reimburse the state for all costs associated with staff deployed to the facility. The revised AFL clarifies that is still the case for Health Corps staff and state contracted staff. However, it is only the case for CalMATs after 72 hours. The AFL now includes links to the hourly rates for Health Corps and CalMAT and contracted staff.
In addition, the AFL specifies that facilities need to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state and has provided copies of the MOUs for Health Corps, CalMAT, and contracted staff. It also clarifies that deployments will be made for limited durations; previously it stipulated that deployments would be made in 72-hour increments.
Legislature Passes Supplemental Leave Bill
On Aug. 28, a bill — which subsequently passed — was introduced in the Legislature to require employers not covered by other supplemental leave laws to provide such leave. Senate Bill 822, a budget trailer bill, was the result of negotiations between the Administration and CalChamber so, as a result, CalChamber did not take a position. The Governor had previously stated he wanted to “fill the gap” in supplemental paid sick leave for employees not covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
There are many details in the bill, which takes effect 10 days after the Governor signs it. Therefore, hospitals should immediately evaluate it and prepare for prompt implementation. Some important details include:
- It requires employers with more than 500 employees and health care employers that opted out of the FFCRA to provide two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to employees if they are quarantined/isolation by a public health order or their health care provider, or directed not to report to work by their employer because of concerns about potential COVID-19 transmission.
- It provides a method to calculate the amount of leave available for part-time and per diem employees.
- Employers that have already provided two weeks of supplemental COVID-19-specific leave, as far back as March 4, are not required to provide an additional amount of leave.
- Like FFCRA and California paid sick leave, the supplemental paid sick leave under state law must be paid at the “regular rate” up to a maximum of $5,110 for the two-week period. The bill, however, allows an employer that already provided leave at the base rate to simply make up the difference in the rate, rather than requiring the employer to provide two additional weeks.
- It sunsets either on Dec. 31 or later if the FFCRA supplemental leave provisions are extended.