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Current COVID-19 Work, Stay Home Order, and Leave Guidance

As the rapidly changing situation continues to unfold, we want to ensure that you continue to get timely guidance on work and leave issues. We recognize many employees across the County may be working modified schedules and working remotely, and that some may be unable to work in the coming weeks and months. Below is current guidance to help you navigate options.

 
First and foremost, we want to thank our essential employees who must be physically on-site in their regular workplace or designated workplace, to perform essential functions on behalf of the County. Employees who have any questions about their status as essential personnel should contact their supervisors for clarification. We want to provide the fullest support and appreciation to these employees as they continue to perform their regular duties.

This information is based on current recommendations, as of July 20, 2020, and is subject to revision as new information becomes available.

Q. Do I have to wear a face covering to work?
A. Yes, in accordance with the Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03 signed on June 24, 2020, every person must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in any indoor or outdoor public setting with certain exceptions as stated in the Order such as when a minimum of six feet of physical separation from other persons can be reliably and consistently maintained. Any exemption from this policy may require certification from a doctor and request for accommodation. If you have concerns about your ability to wear a face covering, please contact your supervisor.

Q: What constitutes a face covering?
A: A face covering is a piece of fabric which covers your nose and mouth. Examples of appropriate face coverings include a cloth mask, multiple layers of fabric tied around your head, or a bandana. If a more protective face covering is required due to the type of work performed, those requirements should be followed.

Q. Will Pierce County be providing employees with face coverings?
A. Yes. In accordance with Safe Start Washington, effective June 8, 2020, employers must provide cloth face coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor and Industries’ (L&I) safety and health rules and guidance which may be found here. As such, while not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), employees will be provided with either a commercial mask or handmade face covering. Employees may choose to wear their own face covering at work, provided it meets the minimum requirements and fits snugly against the sides of the face and covers the nose and mouth. Political statements, opinions, and advertisements are not allowed on employee face coverings. Face coverings should be kept clean at all times.

Q. Does working alone in a cubicle count as “alone in an office?” 
A. It might. Employees’ cubicles will be evaluated on an individual basis. L&I defines “alone” as being isolated from interaction with other people and having little or no expectation of in-person interruption. Examples of working alone include: 
  • A person by themselves inside a vehicle. 
  • A person by themselves inside an office with four walls and a door. 
  • A person inside of a cubicle with 4 walls (one with an opening for an entryway) that are high enough to block the breathing zone of anyone walking by, and whose work activity will not require anyone to come inside of the cubicle. 
  • A person by themselves outside with no anticipated contact with others. 
Q. I have a health condition that precludes me from wearing a face covering. Do I still need to wear a face covering?
A. There are certain exemptions to the requirement to wear a face covering, including people with certain medical conditions for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you are unable to wear a disposable or cloth face covering due to a health condition, please contact Human Resources at pchumanresources@piercecountywa.gov.

Q. If my position requires contact with members of the public, will the public be required to wear a face covering and can I refuse to serve a member of the public if they are not wearing a face covering?
A. Members of the public are required to wear a face covering. If a member of the public is not wearing a face covering when entering the building, a face covering should be offered. If the member of the public refuses to wear a mask, they should be asked if they have a medical condition. If they have a medical condition, we are required to serve them. If the member of the public does not have a medical condition and continues to refuse to wear a face covering, they should be directed to alternate means of accessing services. 

You can use the following script as a suggested way to facilitate an interaction to offer a face mask: 
  • “Would you like a County supplied face covering? If so, I can provide you with one.” 
  • If the person declines: “May I ask if this is due to a medical condition?”
  • If the answer is yes, allow service. If the answer is no: “We are prohibited from providing in-person service to members of the public who are not wearing a mask however, we have alternate means of accessing our services.” 
Provide the member of the public with clear ways of accessing services through alternate means. If the member of the public escalates the interaction, notify your supervisor immediately. 

The County is also providing other acceptable means of protection to employees including modifications to work areas such as protective barriers and 6-foot social distancing as alternatives for when it is necessary to be in contact with a member of the public who is not wearing a mask due to a medical exemption. 

Q. My co-worker is not wearing a face covering, should I say something?
A. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or even dangerous. Because of this, we do not recommend confronting your co-workers as any concerns regarding the ability of an employee to wear a face covering will be handled by the supervisor or above.  

Q. Can I wear a face shield instead of a mask?

A. The Department of Labor and Industries has said that, while a face shield can reduce the spread of droplets during respiratory exhalations, coughs, and sneezing, it is not as effective and does not replace the requirement to wear a cloth or disposable face covering while at work unless an accommodation has been approved due to a medical condition. 

Q. How do I properly wear, remove, and clean my face covering?
A. Tips for use: 
  • Before putting on a face covering, clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face. 
  • Cover the nose and mouth completely; make sure there are no gaps between your face and the covering. 
  • Secure with ties or ear loops. 
  • Allow for breathing without restriction. 
  • Avoid touching the covering while using it; if you do, clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.  
Tips for removal: 
  • Grab it by the straps to remove; do not touch the front or inside of the covering. 
  • Place the covering in something that will keep it out of contact from others. 
  • Be careful not to touch eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Disinfect any surface that the mask may have touched.
Tips for cleaning: 
  • Laundry instructions will depend on the cloth used to make the face covering. 
  • In general, cloth face coverings should be washed regularly (e.g., daily and whenever soiled) using water and a mild detergent, (washing machine is great). 
  • Dry face coverings completely in a hot dryer. 
  • Store clean face coverings in a clean container or bag.
Q. Where can I find additional information about what to expect when returning to work?
A. You can find additional guidance on face coverings and reopening through the State’s Mask Resource page, the Recovery Readiness FAQ, the Tacoma Pierce-County Health Department’s Guidance on Reopening and general COVID-19 information here TPCHD COVID-19 Information.