On December 7, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued updated guidance concerning the recommended quarantine period for individuals following a “close contact” exposure to someone with COVID-19. The CDPH guidance now aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) guidance issued on the same subject on December 2.

Now, both the CDC and CDPH advise as follows:

  • The quarantine period may end after the tenth day, so long as the individual did not present any symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the quarantine period; or
  • The quarantine period may end after the seventh day if: (1) the individual did not present any symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the quarantine period; (2) the individual was tested for COVID-19 no earlier than the fifth day following close contact exposure; and (3) the test produced a negative result. The CDPH notes that this option is not recommended for persons who are in contact with individuals at high-risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or for those who work in high-risk settings.

The CDPH updated guidance states that public health authorities may choose to maintain the 14-day quarantine period, especially in settings where even a small risk of post-quarantine transmission could result in secondary clusters.

Despite the fact that both the CDC and CDPH revised their respective general recommended quarantine periods, newly adopted Cal/OSHA regulations still require a 14-day quarantine period following a COVID-19 exposure. (See 8 C.C.R. 3205(c)(10)(B).)  Further, the CDPH “COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year” still requires that K-12 public school districts implement the 14-day quarantine period when a student or staff member has had close contact with a COVID-19 case.   This would also apply to students at high schools on community college campuses.  Moreover, for districts operating an early education center, the CDPH “COVID-19 Case and Contact Management within Child Care Facilities” also states that negative test results will not shorten 14-day exclusion/quarantine period for exposed people.

Therefore, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore recommends that districts continue to adhere to the Cal/OSHA regulatory requirements and the CDPH requirements for K-12 school districts and early education centers and require that employees and students with close contact exposures observe the full 14-day quarantine period. If the Cal-OSHA regulations and CDPH guidance are modified to be consistent with the broader CDC and CDPH guidance, we will notify districts of the change.

Furthermore, local health orders may also require that individuals with close contact exposure quarantine for 14 days.  As always, districts should follow the most restrictive requirements applicable in their jurisdiction.

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore attorneys are available to assist employers that have any questions about the new CDPH recommendations.