California Department of Public Health Revises the Definition of a COVID-19 Outbreak

CATEGORY: Nonprofit News, Private Education Matters, Special Bulletins
CLIENT TYPE: Nonprofit, Private Education, Public Education, Public Employers
PUBLICATION: LCW Special Bulletin
DATE: Jul 17, 2023

On June 20, 2023, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) revised the definition of the term “COVID-19 Outbreak,” reducing the time period during which the COVID-19 cases must occur in order to trigger an outbreak.

Previously, the CDPH defined “COVID-19 Outbreak” to mean at least three (3) COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period among people who are linked through COVID-19 exposures in the workplace.

Now, the CDPH defines the term to mean at least three (3) COVID-19 cases within a seven (7)-day period who are linked through exposures in the workplace. The rest of the substantive requirements of the definition remain unchanged and operative.

As a reminder for employers concerning their obligations in the event of a “COVID-19 Outbreak”, should an employer determine that such an outbreak exists, the employer must take the following steps: (1) make no-cost COVID-19 testing available to the exposed group (i.e., all the employees at the work location, working area, or common area where any of the COVID-19 cases were present during their infectious period); (2) ensure that employees within the exposed group wear face coverings when indoors or when outdoors and less than six (6) feet from another person; and (3) ensure that any employee who had a “close contact” exposure to one of the COVID-19 cases be tested for COVID-19 three to five days after the close contact and test negative or be excluded from the workplace pursuant to the return to work requirements of the Permanent Standards (See 8 CCR 3205(f)(2)).[1]

The Permanent Standards for COVID-19 Prevention, which were promulgated on December 15, 2022, rely on the CDPH definition of the term “COVID-19 Outbreak” for setting regulatory requirements for employers in the event of an outbreak. (See 8 CCR 3205.1(a).) Consequently, employers should note the revised definition and update their COVID-19 Prevention Programs (“CPP”) as necessary to reflect the change.

LCW attorneys are familiar with the regulatory requirements related to COVID-19 Outbreaks and are available to assist employers in modifying their policies and practices to comply with these requirements in the event of an outbreak. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact our Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, San Diego, or Sacramento office.

[1] 8 CCR 3205.1(b) and (c).

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