Council Connect Articles

Santa Clara County Issues Public Health Order


  • Hospital Council 
  • Santa Clara County hospitals


On Dec. 28, Sara Cody, MD, the Santa Clara County public health officer, released a new public health order. It builds upon the state order for all eligible health care workers to receive a booster by Feb. 1, moving up the date from Jan. 24 for those who work in high-risk settings. Those who have an exemption for the COVID-19 vaccination, who have not received their first dose of the vaccine, cannot work in high-risk areas. In addition, all health care employees must be fully vaccinated (which includes up-to-date status) by March 21. If health care employees are not fully vaccinated, they will not be able to work in high-risk areas after this date.

Hospital Council worked with our members to collect data on how this public health order would affect staffing levels. Hospital Council convened a call with Dr. Cody, and she held follow-up calls with a few members. Through the data collection, the hospital leaders shared not only the impact on their organization, but also the impact systemwide — including the collective number of employees, their roles, number of beds that would be taken out of the health care system, and how their organization has already undergone a rigorous exemption process that resulted in letting go several employees who did not meet the religious or medical exemption.

Takeaway/Next Steps

After several internal discussions with her staff and county counsel, Dr. Cody developed a waiver process. The waiver will be an attestation from the CEO, stating the hospital is experiencing a staffing challenge and needs all employees, vaccinated or not vaccinated. The hospital CEO will need to attest to the following items:

  1. Their organization has implemented a rigorous process along with a description of how it was implemented.
  2. Provide the number of exemptions (medical and religious) for the organization, along with a summary detailing the distribution of staff working with exemptions by work unit
  3. Confirm that the organization has done its best to move unvaccinated employees to less risky units; and staff who are returning from exposure must minimize/avoid time in shared spaces.