Few businesses report COVID-19 outbreaks | TheUnion.com

Few businesses report COVID-19 outbreaks

Just one restaurant and one grocery store in Nevada County have reported COVID-19 outbreaks among employees since Assembly Bill 685 required workplaces to report them at the start of the year.

Despite workplace exposure driving COVID-19 transmission in Nevada County, according to public health officials, only six total businesses have reported outbreaks since the requirement took effect.

The bill codified emergency regulations enacted by the state Department of Industrial Relations last year, aiming to protect essential workers and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Under the bill, within 48 hours employers must notify the Public Health Department if there have been at least three cases in a workplace over a 14-day period.

Employers must also immediately remove the exposed employees from work, provide testing, and notify all employees who may have had exposure within one business day.

The state Public Health Department was supposed to use this outbreak data to better inform the public about which industries are hardest hit by the pandemic and to make informed decisions when going out in public.

However, after nearly three months state officials have yet to update the site meant to display the information.

A public health department spokesperson said the state ”will be providing information when it is received from local public health departments,“ but did not indicate which counties, if any, have provided the data.

The other four Nevada County businesses that have reported outbreaks include a retailer specializing in building materials, an insurance agency, a financial advisor and a member interest association, such as athletic league or property owners’ association.

County officials did not provide the names of businesses or number of employees affected by the outbreaks.

Enforcement of the law is complaint driven.

People can file a workplace safety complaint if their workplace is not adhering to the worker protections by calling Cal/OSHA at 916-263-2800.

According to state records, only one restaurant has been cited for COVID-19 violations. Authorities proposed a $108,000 fine last year for Placerville restaurant Apple Bistro for willful and serious violations.

The industry with the most violations statewide is grocery stores, which have amassed over $1 million in fines over 14 separate incidents. The grocery chain Ralphs accounted for four of those incidents.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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