Last year Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a measure requiring employers to immediately notify employees and the state of COVID-19 outbreaks in their workplace. Debate flared up in the Capitol over concerns that sharing this information would shame those businesses that are not responsible for infections that occurred outside the workplace.
Now that bill’s author has reignited the debate with a “a technical cleanup” to the notification law. The new bill would require information about an outbreak to be made publicly available on the local health department’s website.
The first measure came in the aftermath of outbreaks at Foster Farms processing facilities in the Central Valley. The new bill follows allegations that Fresno County’s health department was secretly helping the company pass Cal/OSHA inspections, which the department has denied. State lawmakers have demanded an investigation.
Republican Asm. Heath Flora pushed back on the new bill, arguing businesses would get “blackballed, even though it's not necessarily their fault.”
“This does not say that the employer is responsible or not responsible for the COVID,” said Asm. Eloise Gómez Reyes of San Bernardino County (above), in defending her bill. “It's just to let the community know that there was an outbreak there.”