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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

June 28, 2022

County Emergency Managers

Cooling Center COVID-19 Guidance

​​​ This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only.​ For more information on cooling centers guidance, see the Cooling Centers Guidance For Local Health Departments​.

​​Extreme heat is a major public health concern in California. Exposure to extreme heat can cause a variety of health problems, including heat stroke and death. Cooling centers [1] (a cool site or air-conditioned facility designed to provide relief and protection from heat) are used by many communities to protect health during heat events. Even as COVID-19 vaccination coverage increases, prevention measures are still necessary as cooling centers can potentially become settings for increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 among both visitors and staff. In addition, groups of people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, such as older adults or those with underlying medical conditions, may congregate at cooling centers. This document provides guidance to support a safe, clean environment for members of the public and workers at cooling centers.

Individual Control Measures and Screenings

  • Implement symptom screening for all visitors, including any volunteers, vendors, contractors, or others entering cooling centers. All staff should be screened for symptoms at the beginning of their shift.
  • Encourage staff to get vaccinated and boosted, when eligible. More information about vaccines, including how they work, variants, boosters and vaccine records can be found on the Vaccines page.
  • If possible, provide alternative cooling sites for visitors with symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath). This may include separate rooms or spaces within cooling centers in which symptomatic visitors can be separated from others.
  • Staff who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and get tested. Follow the CDPH Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.
  • Visitors and staff should follow CDPH Face Coverings Guidance while in cooling centers. Refer to CDPH Get the Most Out of Masking for more information on getting the best fit and filtration for masks.
    • Respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) or surgical masks with good fit are recommended over cloth masks.
    • Cooling centers are encouraged to have a supply of face coverings to distribute to anyone who arrives without one.
    • Face coverings must not be shared.
  • Encourage staff and visitors to sign up for CA Notify as an added layer of protection for themselves and the community to receive alerts when they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Encourage those who test positive for COVID-19 to alert CA Notify to anonymously notify those who may have been exposed.


Cleaning Protocols

  • Keep bathrooms and other sinks consistently stocked with handwashing supplies, including soap and hand drying materials.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol at key points within the facility, including entrances/exits and other common areas.
  • Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility guidance.

Other Considerations

  • Consider making testing resources available for all staff and visitors. Refer to the CDPH Updated Testing Guidance.
  • Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to staff, volunteers, and those visiting cooling centers.
  • Post signs at entrances and in strategic places providing instruction on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and face coverings.
  • Provide educational materials about COVID-19 in multiple languages, as needed.


[1] This only applies to facilities that are solely operating as cooling centers (as opposed to libraries, etc. that are also listed as cooling centers but also operate a separate business during normal operations).

Originally Published on May 28, 2021