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New COVID-19 Guidance in 2022

Though many workplaces slowed down during the holidays, neither COVID-19’s Omicron variant nor the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) took a moment’s rest. Importantly for California employers, on December 30 2021, 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. As a result, they generally shorten quarantine and isolation periods for asymptomatic cases.

However, 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. Generally speaking, CDPH’s requirements are as follows:

1. Vaccinated employees who are exposed to COVID-19 (that is those who have received a booster if six months have passed) are not required to isolate if they are asymptomatic, but must:

– Test on day 5 after exposure
– Wear a mask for 10 days

2. Unvaccinated employees who are exposed to COVID-19 (or those who have two shots but not yet been boosted) 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.

3. For confirmed cases (those with positive tests), their treatment is similar to the unvaccinated exposures. 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.

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