6-24-22: Added considerations for large indoor airspaces to the definition of a close contact based on the CDPH Isolation and Quarantine Q&A updated June 20, 22.
6-16-2022: The California Health Officer Order of June 8, 2022 defines a close contact as someone sharing the same indoor airspace for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during an infected person's infectious period. Per Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) the CDPH definition of a close contact now applies for workplace exposures.
Review the ETS and the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Frequently Asked Questions for more details on the current revision of the ETS.
Employers are required to investigate and respond to any COVID-19 cases in the workplace as outlined by Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). As approved, the full text of these standards appears under the Title 8 sections 3205-3205.4 of the California Code of Regulations. The following are guidelines to support employers responding to COVID-19 cases identified in non-healthcare, non-residential worksites.
For guidance on preventing infections in the workplace please refer to LAC DPH Best Practices in the Workplace to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19.
Employers are required to report any cluster of worksite COVID-19 cases. A cluster is when three (3) or more cases of COVID-19 are known or reported at the worksite within a 14-day period. Reports to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LAC DPH) should be made as soon as possible and no later than 48 hours after reports or knowledge of at least three cases. Report to LAC DPH online or by phone: 1-888-397-3993.
Once LAC DPH receives a cluster report, they will initiate a response to determine the risk of worksite transmission based on number of cases, their work location and duties, how/if the cases interacted with each other and if they share a household or carpool with each other.
If the cluster meets worksite outbreak criteria, a public health case manager will be assigned to help guide the worksite response which includes providing infection control recommendations, workplace exclusion guidance, technical support, and site-specific COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
A COVID-19 case is a person who:
A close contact is defined as someone sharing the same indoor airspace for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while the case was infectious.
An example of "a total of 15 minutes or more" is being in the same airspace with the person for 5 minutes at least 3 different times in 24 hours.
*This is regardless of use of face masks by the case or contact. Exception: Cal/OSHA states that employees are not a close contact if they wore a respirator required by the employer and used in compliance with section 5144, whenever they were sharing the same airspace of the COVID-19 case while they were infectious.
Note: In large indoor spaces, employers may determine close contacts by using a smaller shared airspace area within the larger airspace (such as an individual room, break or eating area, or waiting area) or by using a distinct cohort of employees (such as departments or shifts). When a larger indoor space cannot be easily divided into smaller discrete spaces or distinct cohorts of individuals, then close contacts may be determined based on proximity to the case. Those persons closer to the infected person or in a more enclosed shared airspace are at the greatest risk of exposure. See CDPH Isolation and Quarantine Q&A: How should entities respond to a potential exposure when using this updated definition?--updated June 20, 2022.
Recently recovered from COVID-19 is a person who had a positive viral COVID-19 test within the past 3 months (90 days) who is no longer considered infectious (i.e., their isolation period is over).
If they had symptoms with their most recent infection, the 90 days are from the onset of the initial COVID-19 symptoms. If they never had symptoms, then the 90 days are from the date of collection of the first positive viral COVID-19 test.
Note: Cal-OSHA ETS refers to these workers as a “returned case”.
COVID-19 symptoms means fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea, unless a licensed health care professional determines the person's symptoms were caused by a known condition other than COVID-19.
In accordance with the updated Cal-OSHA ETS, a COVID-19 test means a test for SARS-CoV-2 that is:
Over-the-counter (OTC) self-tests. To comply with the Cal-OSHA testing requirements of the ETS, an OTC COVID-19 test may be both self-administered and self-read if verification of the results, such as a time and date stamped photograph of the result or an OTC test that uses digital reporting with time and date stamped results, is provided.
See Cal-OSHA Testing FAQs for examples of acceptable self-tests.
Employers should have procedures in place for seeking information from employees related to COVID-19 cases and close contacts in the workplace. This includes collecting and keeping records of all COVID-19 cases: their date of symptom onset, COVID-19 testing dates and results, last date present at workplace and their workplace locations and duties.
Once a COVID-19 case is identified at the workplace, the employer must follow the Cal-OSHA ETS and
For healthcare workers please refer to COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Healthcare Personnel and COVID-19 Infection Prevention in EMS Personnel. For workers in other high-risk settings-see Instructions for Close Contacts-High Risk Settings
See the Cal/OSHA Isolation and Quarantine FAQ for more information.
Table 1: Exclusion and Return to Work Requirements for Employees with COVID-19 (Isolation)
|Persons with COVID-19 (Isolation)||Requirements|
|Everyone identified as a COVID-19 case must isolate, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms.
||Employee must be excluded from workplace for at least 5 days after the start of symptoms or after date of first positive test if no symptoms.
Generally, employers may determine if their employees/contractors with COVID-19 must complete the full 10 days of isolation before returning to work or if they may return to work after Day 5, if the criteria listed above are met. Employees/contractors are advised to obtain information from their employer.
Employee must wear a highly protective mask around others for a total of 10 days after the positive test, especially in indoor settings.
|Employee must follow the full isolation instructions for people with COVID-19 at ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation.|
*To count the days:
**The test must be an FDA-authorized viral test such as an antigen or NAAT/PCR test. An antigen test is preferred. Testing must be provided by the employer free of charge and during work hours. Self-administered and self-read OTC tests are acceptable per Cal-OSHA if verification of the results, such as a time and date stamped photograph of the result or an OTC test that uses digital reporting with time and date stamped results, is provided. For more information see Cal-OSHA Testing FAQs.
^A fever is a measured body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Table 2. Requirements for Employees that are Close Contacts [Non-Outbreak Setting1]
|Persons with Close Contact Exposure to Someone with COVID-19||Requirements|
These requirements apply to all asymptomatic employees that are identified as close contacts, regardless of vaccination status
|Employee must wear a highly protective
mask around others for a total of 10 days*
after their last close contact.
Employee must test** within 3-5 days* after their last close contact with the case unless they have recently recovered from COVID-19.
Employee must monitor their health for 10 days*
If symptoms develop, the employee must stay home and be excluded from work pending the results of a test.
*Day 1 is the first full day after their last exposure
**The test must be an FDA-authorized viral test such as an antigen or NAAT/PCR test. Testing must be provided by the employer free of charge and during work hours. For more information see Cal-OSHA Testing FAQs.
1 These requirements are for non-outbreak settings only. During outbreaks, additional requirements will be applicable and guided by public health investigation.
Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS states that employers must offer testing at no cost to employees during paid time:
Employers must provide testing in a manner that ensures employee confidentiality.
See the LAC DPH COVID-19 website for additional resources related to COVID-19.