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.
A COVID-19 case is a person who:
A close contact is any of the following persons who were exposed to the COVID-19 case while they were infectious:
*This is regardless of use of face masks of 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 within six feet of the COVID-19 case while they were infectious.
A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after at least two (2) weeks have passed since:
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.
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.
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 close contacts.
Once a case is identified at the workplace, the employer should
Employers are required to report any cluster of worksite COVID-19 cases. A cluster is when three (3) or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are known or reported at the worksite within a 14-day period. Reports to 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 guidance and recommendations, technical support, and site-specific control measures.
COVID-19 cases can return to work after the required isolation period ends.
Close contacts that are not fully vaccinated and who have not recently recovered from COVID-19 can end quarantine and return to work after meeting one of the following sets of criteria:
They must continue to monitor their health for the full quarantine period and follow precautions (wearing a mask around others, hand washing, avoiding crowds, and staying at least 6 feet from others) for 14 days after the last contact with the case.
Close contacts that develop COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days after the last contact with the case may return to work after meeting one of the following criteria:A.
Note: If the employee is either fully vaccinated or they recovered from COVID-19 within the last 90 days AND a licensed health care professional determines that their symptoms were caused by a known condition other than COVID-19, then they may return to work after they have been fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Symptomatic employees that are not close contacts to a case:
*If the employee is fully vaccinated and/or has recently recovered from COVID-19 and there is low COVID-19 prevalence in the community and the workplace (i.e., no outbreaks at the worksite) then COVID-19 is unlikely. They may return to work once their symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free (without the help of fever-reducing medicines) for at least 24 hours.
Staff who have completed the required isolation or quarantine period can return to work and resume usual activities. A letter from Public Health or a negative COVID-19 test is not needed for staff to return to work.
For employees who develop symptoms after COVID-19 Vaccination, see Return to Work Guidelines for Employees Who Develop Systemic Symptoms Post-Vaccination.
Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS states that employers must offer testing at no cost to employees during paid time to:
See the LAC DPH COVID-19 website for additional resources related to COVID-19.