On June 16, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released guidance for employers responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace. An outbreak at a non-health care or congregate setting workplace is defined as three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a two-week period among employees who live in different households.

The guidance provides a road map for local public health departments (LHDs) and employers to use in understanding the steps that should be taken in response to an outbreak at work. In short, employers should be ready to report positive COVID-19 cases to the LHD and to collaborate with the LHD to coordinate a response to the outbreak.

The CDPH guidance suggests that employers take the following steps:

  • Designate a workplace infection prevention coordinator to implement COVID-19 infection prevention procedures and to manage COVID-19-related issues.
  • Instruct employees to stay home and report to the employer if they are having symptoms of COVID-19, were diagnosed with COVID-19, or are awaiting test results for COVID-19.
  • Notify the LHD if there is a known or suspected outbreak in the workplace or if there are laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the workplace.
  • Understand and follow the requirements for reporting employee cases to Cal/OSHA.
  • Notify employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at work.
  • Determine when it is appropriate for employees who have previously tested positive or who have been in contact with those who have tested positive to return to the workplace.
  • Perform more frequent cleaning and disinfection of the workplace, as well as deep and enhanced cleaning and disinfection after employee(s) with COVID-19 have been at work.
  • Regularly check for and follow new and updated industry-specific guidance on local, state, and federal levels.

A copy of this new guidance can be found on the California Department of Public Health website: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Workplace-Outbreak-Employer-Guidance.aspx.