California Department of Public Health Updates Definition of Close Contact
Previously, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) had redefined “close contact’ as someone sharing the same indoor airspace with a person who had COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. This definition had caused issues for employers in particular who needed to comply with notice requirements. These notice requirements were recently extended until 2024.
In order to allow businesses to better respond to potential exposures, the CDPH revised its definition of close contact to set clearer parameters. Under the revision “close contact” is defined as the following:
In indoor spaces 400,000 or fewer cubic feet per floor (such as home, clinic waiting room, airplane, etc.), a close contact is defined as sharing the same indoor airspace for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three separate 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes) during an infected person’s (confirmed by COVID-19 test or clinical diagnosis) infectious period.
In large indoor spaces greater than 400,000 cubic feet per floor (such as open-floor-plan offices, warehouses, large retail stores, manufacturing, or food processing facilities), a close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of the infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the infected person’s infectious period.
The CDPH revision also clarifies that spaces that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls e.g. offices, suites, and waiting rooms are considered distinct indoor airspaces for purposes of close contact.
The CDPH also published a Questions and Answers for Beyond the Blueprint which explains the difference between direct and indirect exposure as well as how healthcare facilities should respond to potential exposure when using the updated definition.
Employers should review the revised definition as it applies to notice requirements to employees who may have been exposed.