Most Counties Scoff At Law Requiring Release of Workplace COVID Outbreak Data

PUBLISHED JUL 13, 2021 12:00 A.M.
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California law requires counties to make data on workplace COVID outbreaks public, but only 20 counties do.

California law requires counties to make data on workplace COVID outbreaks public, but only 20 counties do.   Raysonho / Wikimedia Commons   C.C. 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Only 20 of California’s 58 counties have released full data on workplace COVID-19 outbreaks, despite a law passed last September requiring them to make the information public, according to a Bay Area News Group report by Fiona Kelliher, published by the Mercury News

A previous report on June 21 by the news organization found that only 18 counties had reported the workplace data. Since that initial report, Santa Clara County and Tulare County have made the data public. In Santa Clara County, according to the newly released data, there were more than 250 COVID outbreaks inside workplaces in 2020 and 2021.

Bay Area News Group obtained the data through public records requests. According to the new report, five other counties requested additional time to respond to the requests, even though all were well past the six-week deadline that the law, AB685, allows. 

In addition 17 counties flatly denied the Bay Area News Group requests, claiming that naming companies that reported outbreaks could violate the privacy of employees. Kelliher wrote that the counties made those claims “without evidence.” In many cases, officials cite the very law that requires release of the data as justification for keeping it secret, according to the Bay Area News Group report.

Read the Bay Area News Group report in the Mercury News

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