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State Agencies Update COVID-19 Isolation Guidance

On January 9, 2024, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) updated its COVID-19 isolation guidance, redefining “infectious period” to move away from a standard five days of isolation for COVID-19 cases and instead focusing on clinical symptoms to determine when to end isolation.

The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations, still in effect until 2025, incorporate the CDPH’s definition of infectious period and its guidance for isolation, meaning the revised CDPH guidance applies to workplaces covered by Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 regulation.

Isolation Periods

The CDPH guidance now recommends the following isolation periods:

• For cases with symptoms, with or without fever, isolate from the day of symptom onset until at least 24 hours have passed. Excluded employees may return when 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms are mild and improving; OR

• For cases with no symptoms, there is no infectious period and no recommended isolation. If symptoms develop, the criteria above will apply.

In addition to the above, when a local or state health official issues an order to isolate, quarantine or exclude an employee, the employee shall not return to work until the period of isolation or quarantine is completed or the order is lifted even if the order exceeds the specified exclusion requirements in the COVID-19 prevention regulations or CDPH recommendation.

For COVID-19 cases that return to work, employers must continue to provide and ensure returning COVID-19 cases use face coverings until 10 days have passed from the date symptoms began or, for asymptomatic cases, from the date of their first positive test.

Employers can review the most recent guidance on Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations FAQ page and should update their COVID-19 policies to reflect the latest information.

(CalChamber, 2024)