The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released new guidance related to COVID-19, which together with a new Executive Order from Governor Gavin Newsom, has resulted in changes to the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard. An employee with a COVID-19 exposure is now required to quarantine for only 10 days, as opposed to 14 days as previously required.
Earlier this week, CDPH released new guidance reducing its recommended quarantine period for asymptomatic close contacts from 14 days to 10 days. An “asymptomatic close contact” is someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, but who has not shown any COVID-19 symptoms.
Under the Cal/OSHA standard, an employee with a COVID-19 exposure is required to remain home for 14 days. For the purposes of the standard, the definition of a “COVID-19” exposure is parallel to the definition of an asymptomatic close conduct under the CDPH guidance: being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater in any 24-hour period within or overlapping with the high-risk exposure period.
Initially it was unclear whether the CDPH guidelines would supersede the Cal/OSHA order, but Governor Newsom resolved the issue in his Executive Order. Among other things, the Order provides that the CDPH’s shortened quarantine period for asymptomatic close contacts now replaces the analogous provision of the Cal/OSHA emergency standard.
It is important to note that the new CDPH guidance provides other requirements for asymptomatic close contacts who quarantine for fewer than 14 days. Namely, they must:
- Adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others and the interventions required below, through Day 14.
- Continue to use face coverings when outside the home through Day 14 after last exposure.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14 and if symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.
If you already have a COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP) in place, as required under the Cal/OSHA standard, you should update it to replace the 14-day quarantine period with the new 10-day period for employees with a COVID-19 exposure. If you do not yet have a CPP, we urge you to adopt one. We are happy to assist clients with drafting a customized CPP that is appropriate for your workplace and employees.