On December 30 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued their guidance interpreting CDC’s December 27th update to their Isolation and Quarantine guidelines.
These changes generally shorten quarantine and isolation periods due to scientific findings that COVID-19 tends to spread mainly early on after infection and when symptoms are present.
California employers should focus on CDPH’s guidance (over CDC’s guidance), as CDPH is what is applicable in California and it is significantly more stringent than CDC’s.
Notably, this CDPH update should apply to California’s workplaces via Executive Order N-84-20. The Executive Order, signed in December of 2020, provided that the exclusion periods under Cal/OSHA’s Workplace ETS were replaced by “any applicable quarantine or isolation period recommended by CDPH” if CDPH’s recommendations were shorter than the timeframe included in the ETS.
CDPH’s requirements are as follows:
1. For confirmed cases regardless of vaccination status (those with positive tests). Confirmed cases must:
- Isolate for five days, and should perform a test on day 5.
- With a negative test and no symptoms, they can end isolation at Day 5.
- If they’re unable to test or choose not to test – even they have no symptoms – isolation must last for 10 days.
- If fever or other symptoms are present, isolation lasts longer.
2. Vaccinated and boosted employees who are exposed to COVID-19 are not required to isolate if they are asymptomatic, but must:
- Test on day 5 after exposure
- Wear a mask for 10 days
3. Unvaccinated and vaccinated (two shots but have not yet been boosted) employees who are exposed to COVID-19 must:
- Quarantine for five days after close contact
- Test on day 5 – and if they test negative and have no symptoms, then they can return to work but must wear a mask through day 10
- If they refuse to test, or cannot be tested, the employee must remain quarantined for 10 days, and can then return if they have no symptoms.
- Wear a mask after return through Day 10.
Cal/OSHA is expected to release a statement making it explicitly clear how they will comply with the Executive Order – but California employers can expect this shortened quarantine period to be coming from Cal/OSHA soon.