Latest updates from state and local leaders
Benton and Franklin Counties’ economies are fully open as of June 30, 2021: Washington Ready Proclamation (20-25.14)
9/13/21 – Inslee amends Washington Ready proclamation
Gov. Jay Inslee today amended the Washington Ready emergency order (Proclamation 20-25) to require facial coverings for large outdoor events with 500 or more individuals, regardless of vaccination status.
8/20/21 – Large Event Guidance
- Benton-Franklin Health District has officially recommended canceling large events while case rates and hospitalizations are at critical levels. We also recommends that people who attend large events and social gatherings keep other gatherings at a minimum 14 days after the event and monitor for symptoms. Individuals should get tested if COVID-19 symptoms develop, quarantine until results are back and isolate if the test is positive.
- Guidance for Businesses and Organizations (Non-Health Care) – DOH
- Overnight Camps (wa.gov)
- Spectator Events (wa.gov)
- Cruises (wa.gov)
For governing bodies of public agencies opting to host in-person public meetings under the Open Public Meetings Act, as permitted under Emergency Proclamation 20-28, et seq., the miscellaneous venues guidance remains in effect.
- Vaccine verification/negative testing: Governor Inslee announced a large event vaccine verification emergency order (10/14/2021) that goes into effect November 15, 2021. Individuals 12 years of age and older must either show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or show proof of having received a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event. A large event is a ticketed or preregistered assembly of 10,000 or more individuals at an outdoor venue or 1,000 or more individuals at an indoor venue. Read full Proclamation 21-16 here.
- Capacity limitations: No restrictions in restaurants, bars, stores, businesses, theaters etc.
- Physical distancing: No requirements
- Facial coverings: Required for all individuals indoors regardless of vaccination status and at outdoor events or gatherings attended by 500 or more people. Follow the Washington State Secretary of Health Order.
- Travelers: Follow CDC recommendations
Requirements for places of employment issued by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries have been updated here. This resource continues to detail options for fully vaccinated workers to go without a mask, methods for verification of worker vaccination status, choices workers have to continue to mask up and other updated guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the job and help employers meet their obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
Important Reference Documents:
If an Employee has COVID-19
Employers are required to notify Benton-Franklin Health District *within 24 hours* if they suspect COVID-19 is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period. Report cases online
Provide next steps to the employee
If employees have symptoms, they should:
- Seek testing. If you have even mild symptoms or have had close contact with a person who has COVID-19, get tested.
- Quarantine immediately. If you have symptoms, you need to quarantine. Do not leave the house under any circumstances and stay in a room in the home away from others. Having a separate bathroom is ideal. Wait for test results.
- Close Contacts. If you are a close contact, or have been exposed, but have no symptoms, do not leave the house under any circumstances until test results have been received. This is called quarantine. If you receive a negative test and are vaccinated, you may return to work. If you receive a negative test and are NOT vaccinated, some workplaces allow return to work on day 7 if you have tested on day 5 and it is negative.
- Isolate. Stay home.
- If you had symptoms and a + test, isolate. Do not return to work until there is an improvement in symptoms, at least 10 days have passed from symptom onset and 24 hours has passed without need to use fever reducing medications. No need to repeat test for a – result.
- If you never developed symptoms and had a + test, stay home until 10 days have passed from the test date. No need to repeat test for a – result.
- If you had symptoms and a – test follow instructions above for symptoms with a + test or repeat the test. Do not go to work if you are ill. Return to work when you are well – no fever reducing medications for 24 hours and improvement of symptoms.
- If you have no symptoms and a – test your viral load may not have been high enough to give a + result and you can still be contagious or develop symptoms later. Follow the quarantine and isolation instructions as determined by the CDC.
- Get medical care if symptoms become serious. Seek advice from your health care provider on what to do if you are sick. Do not call 911 for non-serious issues. Calling an ambulance instead of direct transport to the ER will not guarantee you skip the line or get you an ER bed faster if your sympotoms are not serious.
Reporting cases and protecting employees’ privacy
At this time, most employers are not required to report a single COVID-19 case among employees to Benton-Franklin Health District. The Health District will be informed via the health care provider that conducted the employee’s COVID-19 test.
When employers must report cases to Benton-Franklin Health District:
- Employers who operate in health care and social service settings (e.g., senior living communities, homeless shelters, child care programs) should report cases to BFHD, while maintaining the confidentiality of anyone who is sick.
- Employers in non-health care settings must notify BFHD within 24 hours if they suspect COVID is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period.
If you are a non-healthcare or social services setting, but you think the virus may be spreading through your workplace, please contact BFHD.
If one of your employees has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have been in close contact with other employees while infectious, notify other employees they may have been exposed, but do not identify the person who is sick. They can get tested, monitor for symptoms, and quarantine at home if high-risk for exposure.
Cleaning and disinfection
In most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee has been in the facility, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person:
- Wait 24 hours from the last time the employee was in the facility before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential exposure for other employees. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- During this waiting period, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas.
If the employee has been in all areas of the facility it may be recommended for the facility to shut down.
If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the facility. Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
Cooperate with public health investigators
The state requires employers to cooperate with public health authorities investigating any cases, suspected cases, outbreaks or suspected outbreaks of COVID-19. Any employers who do not follow the governor’s proclamation can be cited and fined.
Maintain healthy business operations
- Appoint a COVID-19 supervisor to trace cases in the workforce and alert anyone who may have been exposed. The supervisor should help employees who have tested positive trace their contacts with coworkers. The supervisor should also prepare resources to assist workers who need guidance about how to isolate or quarantine at home. The supervisor must maintain the privacy of employees’ protected health information.
- Establish sick leave policies and practices that are flexible and supportive, especially for workers 60 or older or those with underlying health conditions who are especially vulnerable to the virus. When sick employees stay home, it prevents the spread to others at work and customers.
- Do not require a doctor’s note from any employees with symptoms of COVID-19.
- Communicate supportive workplace policies, such as telework options, employee assistance programs, and alternatives to public-facing duties – in the preferred language of employees.
- Establish social distancing policies and practices.
Farm and Farmworker Guidance
Emergency Rule Adoption – Temporary Worker Housing (9/25/2021)
Summary of Changes:
- Changes to the rule were limited to making the rule consistent with the Governor’s Proclamation and Secretary of Health’s Order for masking.
- Masks must be worn indoors by all – regardless of vaccination status.
- Masks may only be removed when the site is not accessible to the public and there are no volunteers, visitors, or non-employees present and all workers are verified as fully vaccinated.
This emergency rule continues the requirements under the previous emergency rules that operators:
- Educate occupants in a language or languages understood by the occupants on COVID-19;
- Provide occupants cloth face coverings;
- Ensure physical distancing of occupants when at housing sites, which includes all cooking, eating, bathing, washing, recreational, and sleeping facilities;
- With the exception of group shelters, prohibit the use of the top of bunk beds;
- Ensure the ventilation requirements are met, including specific requirements for mechanical ventilation systems or that windows are open in buildings without mechanical ventilation;
- Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces;
- Identify and isolate occupants with suspect and confirmed positive cases;
- Ensure isolation requirements are met including medical monitoring by a licensed health care provider;
- Report to L&I Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) within 24 hours whenever symptomatic or COVID-19 positive workers are placed in isolation; and
- Ensure any changes made to the revised temporary worker housing management plan are submitted to DOH.
As new information, data, and science becomes available, it is important that DOH and L&I continue to update and immediately amend existing rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This emergency rule is necessary for the preservation of public health, safety, and general welfare of occupants of temporary worker housing for the 2021 growing season. The Governor’s Washington Ready order 20-25.17 and Secretary of Health Order 20-03.5 are currently in effect, and observing the time requirements of notice and opportunity to comment upon adoption of a permanent rule would be contrary to the public interest and the Governor’s order.
The proclamation now requires agricultural employers to test their entire workforce when health officials identify an outbreak that meets the following criteria:
- The local health jurisdiction reports that the employer’s workforce has more than nine positive cases within a 14-day window; or
- The local health jurisdiction determines that the employer’s workforce has an attack rate greater than or equal to 10 percent of the workforce within a 14-day window.
If you need to perform extensive COVID-19 testing at your farm, facility or H2A housing BFHD can facilitate the process by:
- Providing you with testing supplies if you already have a medical provider that you are working with
- Setting up a testing event at your facility through one of our partnerships in the community
Process for Mass Testing
- Call our office at 509-460-4200
- Ask for the Health District Outbreak Mitigation Team
- We will initiate the process with one of our community partnerships
- They will contact you to set up a time and date for the testing event
- The cost of COVID-19 testing depends on the type of test being performed and all COVID-19 testing should be covered by health insurance
Ensure that employees in isolation have access to advanced life support emergency medical services within 20 minutes, and an emergency room with ventilator capability within one hour
EMS (ALS, BLS and ILS transport) Response Areas
The COVID-19 Safety Plan Template is a basic tool to assist businesses in creating their plans to reopen as allowed by the governor’s orders:
If you are a business, or worker with inquires you can use this form to ask Washington State for guidance: COVID-19 Business and Worker Inquiries
L&I has issued coronavirus workplace safety guidance for numerous industries including agriculture, grocery workers, janitorial workers, and construction – Division of Occupational Safety and Health coronavirus webpage
There are additional materials available on BFHD Posters and Graphics page
Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery (Archive)
The phased recovery system aims to safely ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity, ensuring care for Washington residents who need it and paving the way for economic recovery. See the proclamation here.
On June 2, 2021, Governor Inslee announced that some industries with minimal customer or general public interaction will no longer need to follow additional guidance. They will instead only need to follow the COVID-19 workplace health and safety measures established by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
- Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses – DOH
- COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers – Governor’s Site
- Return to Work Guidance – BFHD
⇒ Answer the Sports Tournament Survey for the Health District prior to the tournament
Business Guidance by Industry - Phase 1-3 (Archived Documents)
Benton and Franklin Counties Re-Opening Requirements:
- Sign a business pledge (Spanish) that they will follow all COVID-19 guidance.
- Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan PDF (Spanish PDF)and submit it by email or in person to the county in which the business is licensed (instructions below). If you need an editable Word version click here.
- Post the COVID-19 Safety Plan at the front of the business.
- Require face coverings for employees and customers and post signs that face coverings are required (Spanish).
Plans must be submitted to the county in which the business is licensed.
- Benton County: email@example.com
- Franklin County: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roadmap to Recovery Phase Reopening Guidance
On January 5, 2021, Governor Inslee announced the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan, which lays out the process to safely reopen Washington state. The plan includes guidance for certain businesses and industries to help protect Washingtonians and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Important Reference Documents
- Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery (Regional Phase Status)
- Facial Coverings and Guidance for Businesses
- High-Risk Worker Proclamation FAQ
- Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in Online Education Settings
- Voluntary Contact Information
Healthy Washington Requirements – Guidance by Industry
The following business activities must adhere to the occupancy and operation requirements outlined for their region’s Healthy Washington phase:
Eating and Drinking Establishments
- Restaurants, Taverns, Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries
- Outdoor and Open-air Structures (with FAQ)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Food Workers & Food Establishments (will replace all individual guidance for farmers markets, food pantries, grocery stores, restaurants and other food establishments)
- Farmers Market and Event Operational Guidance (BFHD)
Sports, Recreation and Fitness
- Fitness and Training
- Overnight Group Summer Camps
- Racing: non-motorized and motorized
- Spectator Events (spectators of sports must follow this guidance, including masking at all times)
- Sporting Activities: recreational, K-12, higher education and professional
- Sporting Activities FAQ
- Water Recreation Facilities – Reopening
- Water Recreation Facilities – Occupancy
Indoor Entertainment Establishments
Outdoor Entertainment Establishments
All employers must follow COVID-19 prevention protocols for employees as required by the Department of Labor and Industries. Industry-specific workplace requirements are listed below:
Additional Industry Requirements
- Agricultural Industry
- Child Care, Youth Development and Day Camps
- Education: Graduation Ceremonies
- Graduation Events
- Home Care & Hospice
- Homeless Shelters
- In-Store Retail
- Libraries – WA Talking Book and Braille Library
- Miscellaneous Venues
- Motion Picture Industry
- Personal Services
- Pet Grooming
- Professional Services
- Professional Photography
- Real Estate
- Recovery Support Group
- Religious and Faith-Based Organizations
- Spectator Events
- Taxi and Rideshare
- Theatre and Performing Arts
- Transient Accommodations (Hotels, Motels, B&Bs, etc.)
- Vehicle and Vessel Sales
- Weddings, Funerals and Events (Prom, etc.)
- Workplace Education Programs
- Yard Sales – (follow private gathering guidance on private property)
Safety Requirements for Employers (Archive)
All phases – Employers are required to:
- Maintain the 6-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons. Adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
- Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
- Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors and patrons. Ensure employees have access to hand washing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
- Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high-touch surfaces.
- Identify personal protective equipment (PPE) and cloth facial coverings in accordance with L&I requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards. Provide the necessary PPE and supplies to employees.
- Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious, and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee.
- Follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness. This may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
- Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
- On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses, such as screening of employees for illness and exposures upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
- Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
- Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Governor Inslee’s “Roadmap to Recovery Proclamation“.
- ADDITIONALLY, in furtherance of these prohibitions and for general awareness:
- Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03.1, issued on July 24, 2020, is incorporated by reference, and may be amended as is necessary; and, all such amendments are also incorporated by reference.
- Employers must comply with all conditions for operation required by the state Department of Labor & Industries, including interpretive guidance, regulations and rules such as WAC 296-800-14035, and Department of Labor & Industries-administered statutes.
- Everyone is required to cooperate with public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspected cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19 and with the implementation of infection control measures pursuant to State Board of Health rule in WAC 246-101-425.
- All mandatory guidelines for businesses and activities, which remain in effect except as modified by this Proclamation and the Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03.1, may be found at the Governor’s Office website, COVID-19 Resources and Information, and at COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers.
Essential Business Guidelines (Archive)
- COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs for Critical Workers’ Employers
- K-12 and Higher Education – See full list at School Guidance (BFHD)
- Childcare, Youth Development, and Summer Day Camps (DOH)
- Farmers Market Operational Requirements (DOH)
– Farmers Market and Event Operational Guidance (BFHD)
– Temporary Event Coordinator Application (BFHD)
- Food Processing-Warehouse (English)
- Food Processing-Warehouse (Spanish)
- Grocery Stores (small) (BFHD)
- Temporary Worker Housing (DOH)
- Real Estate requirements (Memo from Gov. Inslee)
- Courts; Washington State Courts – Guidance for resuming jury trials (DOH)
- Water Recreation Facilities Guidance in Phases (DOH)
- Water systems; Shock Chlorination Guidance for Building Water Systems (DOH)
- Workforce Training Requirements (L&I)