CHA News

State Issues Public Health Officer Order on Hospital and SNF Visitation

For quality & patient safety staff, infection preventionists

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a public health officer order on Aug. 5 requiring general acute care hospitals, skilled-nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities to either: (1) verify that indoor visitors are fully vaccinated, or (2) verify documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. The health order includes the following requirements: 

  • Plan: Facilities must have a plan in place to document the verification of visitor vaccination status or negative test results. Records must be made available to the local health department upon request. 
  • Test results: Specimen collection must have occurred within 72 hours before each visit and the test results must be available at the time of entry to the facility. Both antigen and PCR testing are acceptable.
  • End-of-life exception: Visitors of a patient in critical condition, when death may be imminent, are exempt from the vaccination and testing requirements.
  • PPE and social distancing: Visitors must physically distance from health care personnel and wear a well-fitting face mask or other personal protective equipment (PPE) deemed necessary by the facility.
  •  Plan: Facilities must have a plan in place to document the verification of visitor vaccination status or negative test results. Records must be made available to the local health department upon request. 
  • Test results: Specimen collection must have occurred within 72 hours before each visit and the test results must be available at the time of entry to the facility. Both antigen and PCR testing are acceptable.
  • End-of-life exception: Visitors of a patient in critical condition, when death may be imminent, are exempt from the vaccination and testing requirements. 
  • PPE and social distancing: Visitors must physically distance from health care personnel and wear a well-fitting face mask or other personal protective equipment (PPE) deemed necessary by the facility. 

Facilities can offer to conduct onsite testing of visitors but are not required to do so. Facilities must be in full compliance with this order by Aug. 11 at 12:01 a.m. (PT). Acute psychiatric hospitals are not subject to this order. 

As mentioned above, the order has only one exemption — for visitors of a patient whose death may be imminent. CHA has requested that CDPH clarify its expectations regarding visitors who are parents of a minor, partners of women in labor, or caretakers of disabled patients. In addition, CHA has requested that CDPH provide more information during its weekly COVID-19 Health Facilities call on Aug. 10 from 8 to 9 a.m. (PT); dial in: (844) 721-7239, access code: 7993227.