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5-13-22: Updated to align with revised Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). Effective 5/6/22, Cal/OSHA requires employers to provide respirators upon request to any employee (regardless of vaccination status) who works indoors or in vehicles with more than one person.

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IIntroduction

Los Angeles County is utilizing both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Levels and California SMARTER Plan to guide the realignment of our local public health response to focus on reducing medically significant illness and minimizing strain on the healthcare system. See Los Angeles County Post-Surge Dashboard. The core community prevention strategies are indoor masking, testing, vaccine verification, and ventilation.

Below is a summary of requirements and best practices for communities of faith to enhance the safety of their employees, volunteers, and attendees, and to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission within their faith communities.

Please be sure to read and follow the general guidance for businesses & employers.
The specific best practices below are intended to supplement the general guidance.

Encourage indoor masking for employees and attendees
Wear a mask
  • Masks are strongly recommended indoors: Masks are strongly recommended, but no longer required in most indoor public settings. The purpose of strongly recommending continued indoor masking is to prevent transmission of the virus, particularly to persons with prolonged, cumulative exposures (e.g., workers) and to persons with higher risk of illness. Businesses may choose to continue to require universal indoor masking. See general guidance for businesses & employers for details.
Wear a mask
  • Employees must be provided masks and respirators at no cost to the employee*:
    • In settings where masking is not required, employers must make available and offer well-fitting medical masks and respirators (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94) for voluntary use to employees who work indoors and have close contact with others or in vehicles with more than one person.
    • If a business chooses to maintain an indoor masking requirement, employees must be provided with a well-fitting medical mask.
    • Upon request, employers must provide all employees who work indoors or in vehicles with more than one person with the correct-size N95 respirator for voluntary use along with basic instructions on how to use it.
    • Respirators must be replaced if they lose their tight fit or get damaged, deformed, dirty, wet, or difficult to breathe through.
    •  For more information about free and low-cost PPE for businesses and organizations visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/docs/FreeAndLowCostPPE.pdf.
  • * Some independent contractors are considered as employees under the State Labor Code. For more details, check the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Independent contractor versus employee webpage.
Screen attendees
Screening
  • Screen attendees, volunteers, employees, and performers for symptoms before they attend the service and instruct them not to attend if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or if they have recently tested positive. See the DPH Entry Screening Guidance.
  • Consider requiring all attendees to show proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or they have had a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within 2 days (if PCR) or within 1 day (if antigen) of attending indoor services.
Take extra care if serving food and beverages
Take care when serving food and beverages
  • Places that serve food and beverages indoors are considered higher-risk settings because persons, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, are without face masks for an extended period of time. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that faith communities only serve food and drinks in outdoor spaces.
  • If food is served and consumed indoors, consider requiring all those in attendance to show proof of being fully vaccinated or a recent negative test.
Reduce crowding, especially indoors
Social distancing
  • Outdoor services present a lower risk of transmission compared to indoor services. Whenever possible, hold services outdoors.
  • Use assigned seating for services with the same seat assignments, if possible. This limits exposure and makes it easier to determine close contacts if there is a person present who is later diagnosed with COVID-19 infection.
  • Establish procedures to prevent crowding among attendees waiting to enter or exit.
Ventilate
Improve ventilation
  • HVAC Basics. If your services are held indoors, make sure your building’s HVAC system is in good, working order. Consult your HVAC professional.
    • Use MERV 13 filters in the HVAC system, if possible.
    • Set the HVAC system to use 100% outside air during large gatherings, if possible.
    • Determine the number of Air Changes per Hour (ACH) provided by the HVAC system in the space during the event. A range of 2-6 ACH is recommended, with the higher range needed if less outside fresh air is coming in.
  • Supplement air cleaning. Add portable high-efficiency air cleaners to smaller areas with low levels of ventilation.
  • When weather and working conditions allow, when safe to do so, increase fresh outdoor air by opening windows and doors. Use caution in highly polluted areas when increasing outdoor air ventilation.
  • Consider using fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows – position window fans on one side of room and direct them blow air outward, not inward. See below for additional guidance if there are performers onsite.
  • Decrease occupancy in indoor areas where ventilation cannot be increased. Consider use of carbon dioxide monitors to monitor the effectiveness of your ventilation in more densely occupied indoor spaces.
  • If your services are held indoors and have performers that will generate aerosols (such as a singer or a musician playing wind or brass instruments) take the following steps:
    • Assess the direction of the air flow in the room to determine where the air is exiting the room. In buildings with HVAC systems, this will be the air-return vents; if doors or windows are open, check the direction that the air is flowing.
    • During performances, position aerosol-generating performers closer to the locations where the air is exiting the room.
  • See State Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.
Support handwashing
Wash hands
Communicate
Communicate
  • Consider using advanced registration as much as possible for services so you know how many people will attend. Advanced registration can also help you to reserve seating and convey your COVID-19 safety plans to attendees before they attend.
  • Use your online platforms to communicate your COVID-19 safety policies to your faith community.

 


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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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