By Allen Payton
Contra Costa County health officials are backing down on their requirement in the latest order issued June 5 that places of worship gather names and information of all attendees, keep it for 14 days and provide it to the county immediately upon request. According to a statement issued Tuesday morning, “health officers will be working with county attorneys to revise the order to reflect this as a recommendation but not a requirement.”
The action comes following a series of email exchanges between the Herald and county supervisors and staff over the past several days about the requirement, an article on the matter and public outrage on social media challenging the constitutionality of the requirement, the inconsistent and unfair application to only places of worship, and no other organization or business, including protesters or restaurants offering outdoor dining in which people sit for extended periods of time with their masks off in order to it.
A legal effort was in the works as of Monday, with several residents agreeing to sign on to a legal demand letter to be sent to the county. But that now appears to be unnecessary.
Following is the Statement Regarding Requirements for Religious Gatherings
“In the health order issued June 5 by Contra Costa Health Services, religious organizations were required to maintain a list of attendees at religious services and cultural ceremonies in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19. The intention was to facilitate quick, complete contact tracing if a participant at the event tests positive.
Health officers will be working with county attorneys to revise the order to reflect this as a recommendation but not a requirement. If a participant tests positive for COVID-19, the host will be asked to assist CCHS with contact tracing associated with the gathering.
To mitigate the risk of transmission to the greatest extent possible, CCHS encourages participants to wear face coverings at all times, maintain social distance when possible, practice good hand hygiene, and stay home if sick.”
According to Kim McCarl, Assistant to the Director of Contra Costa Health Services for Communications, “As we revise the language, the recommendation will apply to any allowed gatherings.”