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CDPH Changes Close Contact Definition

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2022 | CAL/OSHA, COVID

In April 2022, California’s Occupations Safety and Health Administration Standards Board readopted its emergency COVID-19 standard, meaning the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 regulations are effective through January 2023.  This blog covered the proposed changes in a separate blogpost.  In June 2022, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) changed the definition of close contact as follows:

Close Contact is defined as someone sharing the same indoor airspace (e.g., home, clinic waiting room, airplane etc.) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes) during an infected person’s (laboratory-confirmed or a clinical diagnosis) infectious period.

Cal/OSHA updated its FAQ to state that this definition of close contact changes the definition under the Cal/OSHA regulations.  These include requirements such as providing testing and assuring that those who have had “close contact” wear masks.  When Cal/OSHA readopted the COVID-19 regulations, the procedure for handling close contacts changed:

Employers shall review current CDPH guidance for persons who had close contacts, including any guidance regarding quarantine or other measures to reduce transmission. Employers shall develop, implement, and maintain effective policies to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by persons who had close contacts.

The CDPH’s current Isolation & Quarantine Guidance generally does not require asymptomatic close contacts to quarantine, but other requirements do apply, such as recommended testing 3-5 days following exposure.  Employers should (1) review their COVID-19 Prevention Programs; (2) add the new definition of close contact; and (3) review the CDPH guidance and Q&A to determine how their workplaces should handle close contacts in light of this new definition.  Several industry groups have prepared a letter to Cal/OSHA requesting clarification of the definition. There is likely to be future action by Cal/OSHA and/or the CDPH to clarify this standard in the form of an FAQ update, guidance document, or an update to the CDPH’s orders.

For questions concerning your business’ compliance with California’s COVID-19 laws please contact an attorney at Sagaser, Watkins & Wieland, P.C.