Employers are required to investigate and respond to any COVID-19 cases in the workplace. The following DPH guidelines are intended to support employers responding to COVID-19 cases identified in non-healthcare settings.
Employers should refer to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations for COVID-19 workplace requirements.
Summary of Recent Changes
Significant changes include the following:
Updated the workplace exclusion and return to work tables to align with the March 13, 2023 Cal/OSHA updated COVID-19 Prevention Regulation FAQs and California Department of Public Health Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.
Updated to incorporate relevant Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Non-Emergency Regulations, including the following key changes:
The County Health Officer Order requires employers 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.
Note: The Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations require employers to follow local health department case reporting requirements and report major COVID-19 outbreaks to Cal/OSHA.
A COVID-19 case is a person who:
Who is considered a close contact in the workplace varies based on the size of the shared indoor space:
Spaces that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls (e.g., offices, suites, rooms, waiting areas, bathrooms, or break or eating areas that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls) must be considered distinct indoor airspaces. See, CDPH - Close Contact Q&A - October 13, 2022.
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.
Recently recovered from COVID-19 is a person who had a positive viral COVID-19 test within the past 30 days who is no longer considered infectious (i.e., their isolation period is over).
If they had symptoms with their most recent infection, the 30 days begins at the onset of the initial COVID-19 symptoms. If they never had symptoms, then the 30 days starts at the date of collection of the first positive viral COVID-19 test.
Note: Cal/OSHA Prevention regulations refers to these workers as a “returned case” and updated definition is aligned with above.
COVID-19 symptoms include 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 Cal/OSHA, 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, 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.
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: the employee's name, contact information, their date of symptom onset, COVID-19 testing dates and results, last date present at workplace and their workplace locations and duties. This information must be provided to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA, immediately upon request.
Once a COVID-19 case is identified at the workplace, the employer must:
The following exclusion and return to work requirements are for employees in non-healthcare settings. For printable versions of these tables, click here.
For healthcare workers please refer to COVID-19 Infection Prevention Guidance for Healthcare Personnel and COVID-19 Infection Prevention in EMS Personnel.
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 be excluded from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms.
||Employee must be excluded from the workplace for at least 5 days after the start of symptoms or after date of first positive test if no symptoms.
Isolation can end and employee may return to the workplace after Day 5* if both of the following criteria are met:
If they do have a fever, isolation must continue, and the employee may not return to the workplace until 24 hours after the fever resolves.
If an employee’s symptoms other than fever are not improving, they may not return to the workplace until their symptoms are resolving or until after Day 10.
Employee must wear a well-fitting mask around others through Day 10.
Employers must provide—at no expense to the employee—well-fitting medical masks and well-fitting respirators (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94).
|Employee should follow the full isolation instructions for people with COVID-19 at ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation.|
*To count the days:
Table 2. Employees that are Close Contacts [Non-Outbreak Setting1]
|Persons with Close Contact Exposure to Someone with COVID-19||Recommended Actions|
These actions apply to all asymptomatic employees that are identified as workplace close contacts, regardless of vaccination status
|Employee should wear a well-fitting
mask around others indoors for a total of 10 days*
after their last close contact.
Employee should test within 3-5 days* after their last close contact with the case unless they have recently recovered from COVID-19.
Employee should monitor their health for 10 days*
If symptoms develop, the employee should be excluded from the workplace pending COVID-19 test results.
*Day 1 is the first full day after their last exposure
1 These recommendations are for non-outbreak settings only. During outbreaks, additional requirements will be applicable and guided by public health investigation.
Cal/OSHA 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.