COVID-19: CDPH Order Updates for Health Care Workers and All Californians
Posted March 10, 2023

Shortly after California ended its COVID-19 State of Emergency, the California Department of Public Health ("CDPH") announced updates to several public health orders which will impact health care workers and Californians at large. According to the CDPH, these updates change current standards related to “vaccination, masking, isolation, and quarantine.”

Some of these updates take effect on March 13, 2023; others become effective on April 3, 2023. You can view the CDPH press release here. To review a full copy of the CDPH order, click here.

A summary of the most relevant changes is below.

Changes Effective March 13, 2023 for the General Public

The revised CDPH Order will implement several changes, including modified guidance on ending isolation for COVID-19 cases, an updated infectious period definition, and the addition of a “confirmed case” definition. According to the CDPH, “These changes for the general public bring the CDPH into alignment with the federal CDC’s isolation recommendations.” The following changes for the general public will take place as of March 13, 2023:

  • Isolation periods can be shortened: the revised order states, “Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 should continue to isolate for 5 days, but may leave isolation after 5 days, if they are feeling well, symptoms are improving and are fever-free for 24 hours.” Notably, there will no longer be any requirement for a negative COVID-19 test in order to end isolation. However, “two sequential negative tests at least one day apart” will be required for returning individuals to remove their masks sooner than 10 days. The State notes “All other recommendations related to quarantine of individuals who have been exposed remain unchanged, along with the recommendation for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and test immediately.”
  • The definition of “infectious period” will be updated as follows: “For symptomatic confirmed cases, 2 days before the confirmed case had any symptoms (symptom onset date is Day 0) through Days 5–10 after symptoms first appeared AND 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved, OR [f]or asymptomatic confirmed cases, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date (collection date is Day 0) through Day 5 after positive specimen collection date for their first positive COVID-19 test.” This definitional change corresponds with the isolation period.
  • The Order also clarifies that: “For the purposes of identifying close contacts and exposures, symptomatic and asymptomatic confirmed cases who end isolation in accordance with CDPH Isolation and Quarantine Guidance are no longer considered to be within their infectious period.”
  • A confirmed case will be defined as “A person who has received a positive result of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus as confirmed by a COVID-19 viral test or clinical diagnosis.”

Unlike the changes addressed for the health care community below, the CDPH masking guidance for the general public remains unchanged. The CDPH notes that everyone, “Regardless of the COVID-19 community levels, [should]: [1] Wear a mask around others if you have respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, runny nose, and/or sore throat), [2] Consider wearing a mask in indoor areas of public transportation (such as in airplanes, trains, buses, ferries) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, and seaports). This is increasingly important as the risk for transmission increases in the community. [3] When choosing to wear a mask, ensure your mask provides the best fit and filtration (respirators like N95, KN95 and KN94 are best). [4] If you’ve had a significant exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, wear a mask for 10 days.”

Importantly, the March 13, 2023 changes will not apply to certain health care personnel, emergency medical services personnel or skilled nursing facility residents. Rather, those businesses have industry-specific guidance, discussed more fully below. The Order also notes that the Cal/OSHA Non-Emergency Regulations, and for some businesses, the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmittable Disease Standards, may require a different application of the rules.

Changes Effective April 3, 2023 for Health Care Settings

There are several updates specific to health care settings, effective April 3, 2023:

  • Updated masking requirements for health care: the CDPH orders will no longer require indoor masking for high-risk and health care settings including, “health care, long-term care, and correctional facilities as well as homeless, emergency, and warming and cooling centers.” Instead, as of that date, the CDPH will default to local health departments and individual businesses to allow them to implement personalized and customizable plans for masking based on their specific needs and the current local conditions. For the full guidance on masking, click here.
  • Updated vaccination requirements: California will no longer require health care workers to be vaccinated. Remember, however, that despite these state-rule changes, federal rules still currently require vaccination in some settings, including for Medicare and Medicaid certified providers (click here). Until April 3, 2023, California continues to mandate vaccination for health care workers. For the current California vaccination requirement for health care workers, click here. Like several of the revisions noted above, this vaccination change empowers local health departments to create local plans customized to their local needs.

Remember that local jurisdictions remain authorized to (and do) implement additional COVID-19 requirements, which may be more restrictive than state or federal requirements. Be sure to review the federal, state and applicable local rules regularly.

COVID-19 Regulations Are Not Over

Despite our collective desire to put the pandemic in our rear-view mirrors, the COVID-19 rules, regulations and guidance remain ever-evolving. Constant vigilance is required to remain in compliance. LightGabler will continue to provide updates as additional information is provided by the CDPH or Cal/OSHA on these topics.

For questions regarding COVID-19 requirements or assistance with other employment law issues, contact the attorneys at LightGabler.

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