Unlike for measles and tuberculosis, the Riverside County Department of Public Health does not disclose businesses where employees test positive for COVID-19, their policy is to contact people who were exposed by a person with a confirmed case.
“When it does impact people at work we would then reach out to the business and talk to the business directly,” says Brooke Federico, the county’s public information officer adding they do work with the business owners to then get additional information on employees they need to contact and additional steps they need to take to make sure their business is safe and are not exposing other employees and public, “if there are measure that would need to take place in the business,” she says.
Some businesses like Cliffhouse in La Quinta are being transparent with the community and self reporting. They recently posted on social media one of their employees tested positive but made it clear they did not come in to work sick and were not in close contact with customers. They add they take extra precautions in their everyday operations not just to protect the public and staff but because the owner is immunocompromised. Their customers responded positively and appreciate their honesty.
“I do think it’s really cool that the Cliffhouse did come forward and tell everybody, I think that’s commendable, and I’d go back there and support them because of that,” says Linda Belzberg, adding she doesn’t think the county should get involved in reporting businesses.
The county says it’s okay to let employees and community know about a confirmed positive case as long as they don’t disclose names and other personal information or try to contact people who were exposed themselves.
“We simply ask that they allow public health to take the lead in doing that disease control testing and to be very careful with patient privacy,” says Federico.
People we spoke with and asked on social media are mixed about the county’s policy. Some feel it would help them make informed choices, especially if they or a loved one is in the high risk category.
But Dr. Abel Rodriguez, a holistic chiropractor says he doesn’t think the county should report businesses but if we all stay vigilant and do our part we will be okay, “You have no idea where it’s at and the best thing to do is just to assume that it’s everywhere and that’s how we’re going to get it under control.”
The county says there are exceptions to this policy. Nursing homes are listed because of the high risk population. They also say it’s important for businesses to take responsibility and do everything they can to keep their employees and staff safe because if a business is deemed a public threat the county will shut them down.
The county was recently added to the state’s watch list because of a spike in community spread. The state’s health department posted the following on their website:
Riverside County (has variance) is experiencing elevated disease transmission. Drivers of this include: 1) outbreaks at state prisons and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), 2) potential transmission at public protests with large numbers of people in close proximity without face coverings, 3) in-county patient transfers from Imperial County, 4) patients seeking care from Northern Baja California and traveling along SR-86 corridor into Coachella Valley and 5) general increases in local gatherings. Key action steps to address concerns include: 1) close monitoring of data; 2) increase testing volume at county and state sites; 3) continue SNF outreach and support and implement Quick Response Task Force assistance for high risk facilities; 4) expand contact tracing workforce; 5) increase public messaging on the importance of personal protection measures; and 6) coordination and communication between the local health department, CDPH, and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to mitigate outbreaks at state prisons.
The county says it’s important to keep following the mandates and recommendations to avoid getting sick and stop community spread.
These are the state’s recommendations:
- Stay home except for essential needs/activities.
- Practice physical distancing – stay 6 feet away from people.
- Wear a cloth face mask if you leave home.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow or a tissue. Wash hands afterwards.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home and away from people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
- If you smoke or vape, consider quitting. Smoking and vaping causes harm to the lungs.
- Follow guidance from public health officials.
It’s also important to know your status as many who are positive are asymptomatic meaning they show no symptoms but do spread the virus.
To find a location and get tested for free click here: GET TESTED.
For symptoms list click here: COVID-19