The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released additional clarifications on the state public health officer order on unvaccinated health care workers that was released on July 26. These clarifications are contained in All Facilities Letter (AFL) 21-27 for general acute care hospitals (GACHs), AFL 21-28 for skilled-nursing facilities, and AFL 21-29 for acute psychiatric hospitals.
Key clarifications in the AFLs include:
- Facilities can choose the type of testing (e.g., antigen or PCR) to offer to workers.
- Facilities must keep documentation of vaccine verification available for inspection by CDPH or the local health department.
- Workers in areas that patients cannot access can be tested weekly as opposed to twice weekly.
- Employees who work fewer than two shifts per week can be tested on each shift as opposed to twice weekly.
CDPH has also updated AFL 20-88.1, which contains recommendations (not requirements) for GACHs to test both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees weekly if the facility vaccination rate is less than 70%. The only differences between AFL 20-88.1 and 20-88.2 are that the newer AFL informs readers of the existence of the July 26 state public health officer order and eliminates “emergency medical service personnel” from the definition of “health care personnel.”
Hospitals should be aware that on CDPH’s conference call with health care facilities Aug. 3, a CDPH employee mistakenly stated that GACHs must continue to test vaccinated employees weekly. CDPH has confirmed in writing to CHA that this is incorrect, and that CDPH will correct this statement in its written meeting minutes distributed via CAHAN.