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Cal/OSHA Order Sets New Virus Protections Following Oakland McDonald's Worker's Testimony

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Thursday saw some big wins for employees in California as the state made key rulings to step up safety precautions against COVID-19 in the workplace.

Employees at a McDonald's in Oakland said they routinely used coffee filters as masks and one worker was even seen wearing a doggy diaper as a face covering. One of the workers, Angely Rodriguez, said the improper protections led to an outbreak where 10 employees and 8 of their family members tested positive for coronavirus. On Thursday, Rodriguez addressed the Cal/OSHA Standards Board to make a plea for stronger rules to protect workers.

Angely Rodriguez said she had the novel coronavirus for more than a month and was under three doctor-ordered quarantines. She had rashes on her arm from an allergic reaction to the medications she was prescribed.

Rodriguez spoke in Spanish to KPIX through a translator. Rodriquez says she is feeling better and has returned to work at the McDonald's. She also works at a preschool five days a week, she said.

Rodriguez says it was important to fight for her safety and the safety of her coworkers. She feels that speaking out has created better working conditions. The McDonald's has now reopened but is only operating 12 hours a day.

The Cal/OSHA Board unanimously voted on an emergency order to create a standard throughout the state to protect employees.

According to WorkSafe, a workers' rights organization, workers in low-income jobs, immigrants and non-White workers have borne the brunt of these deaths.

"California now has the opportunity to develop strong new protections to stem the tide of workplace spread of COVID-19," said Stephen Knight, WorkSafe executive director.

Governor Newsom also signed two bills on Thursday. One requires swift notification of coronavirus exposure at work and the other will help employees access worker's compensation if they become infected.

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