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CDPH Issues Updated Order Drastically Changing Employers’ Obligations Under Cal/OSHA COVID-19 ETS

Currently, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requires employers to review and use current California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance for persons who had close contact with an individual with COVID-19, including any guidance regarding quarantine or other measures after a close contact to reduce COVID-19 transmission. On June 8, 2022, the CDPH issued a revised order with new definitions. These revised definitions are therefore immediately incorporated into the Cal/OSHA ETS requirements for exclusion of close contacts, which in turn impact employers’ obligations under the ETS.


The revised definitions are as follows.

Close Contact

“Close contact” is defined as an individual who shares the same indoor airspace (e.g., home, clinic waiting room, airplane, etc.) for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period (for example, 3 individual 5-minute exposures totaling 15 minutes) during an infected person’s infectious period.

Infectious Period

“Infectious period” is defined as follows:

  • For symptomatic infected individuals, 2 days before the infected person had any symptoms through day 10 after symptoms first appeared (or through days 5 to 10 if the individual tests negative on day 5 or later), and 24 hours have passed without fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and symptoms have improved, or

  • For asymptomatic infected individuals, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date through day 10 after the positive specimen collection date (or through days 5 to 10 if an individual tests negative on day 5 or later) after the specimen collection date of the first positive COVID-19 test.

Same Indoor Space

The terminology “same indoor airspace” is a deviation from prior definitions and terminology used since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Previously, “close contacts” meant “being within six feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater in any 24-hour period within or overlapping with the infectious period.” The updated CDPH guidance drastically expands the definition of close contact well beyond any meaning used during the last two years and requires employers to update their policies and procedures for excluding close contacts pursuant to the CDPH guideline tables.

© 2023, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 168

About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

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Robert Rodriguez has significant experience handling a wide variety of labor and employment matters, including wage and hour class actions, claims of discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and wrongful termination. He also has experience providing in-house legal advice regarding complex labor and employment issues.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Robert served as an attorney for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, handling in-house labor and employment matters and previously, at a Sacramento area civil litigation firm, where he handled a wide array of employment...

Jennnifer Yanni Labor & Employment Attorney Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Jennifer Yanni has spent the entirety of her legal career litigating labor and employment issues. She began her practice representing plaintiffs against national corporations and second-chaired an arbitration that resulted in a six-figure award in a rare reverse-discrimination suit. For the past five years, she has represented employers on a wide range of labor and employment issues. She has defended employers in a variety of industries in cases involving discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability; wage and hour disputes involving claims of unpaid overtime...