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COVID-19

Employer Guidance on AB 685: Definitions

AB 685 (Chapter 84, Statutes of 2020) is a new California law that requires employers to notify employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and to report workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 to the local health department.

In its requirements for employers, AB 685 refers to terms "as defined by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)." CDPH definitions for these terms are below. CDPH also uses these terms in other contexts; the definitions here are intended for employer use in relation to AB 685.

  1.  COVID-19 outbreak:
    • A COVID-19 outbreak in a non-healthcare workplace is defined as at least three COVID-19 cases among workers at the same worksite within a 14-day period.
      • Under AB 685, a COVID-19 case is someone who:
        • Has a positive viral test for COVID-19,
        • Is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider,
        • Is ordered to isolate for COVID-19 by a public health official, OR
        • Dies due to COVID-19, as determined by a public health department.
    • Under AB 685 Section 4 (Labor Code Section 6409.6, subsection (a)(4(b)), if an employer or their representative is notified of the number of cases meeting the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak, they must notify the local public health agency in the jurisdiction where the worksite is located.

    • Non-healthcare employers must therefore report to the local public health agency when three or more workers with COVID-19 are identified within a 14-day period.

    • Health facilities, who are exempt from AB 685's mandate to report outbreaks to local health departments, should follow CDPH reporting guidance for healthcare facilities.

  2. Infectious period:

    •  For an individual who develops symptoms, the infectious period for COVID-19 begins 2 days before they first develop symptoms. The infectious period ends when the following criteria are met: 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, AND at least 24 hours have passed with no fever (without use of fever-reducing medications), AND other symptoms have improved.

    •  For an individual who tests positive but never develops symptoms, the infectious period for COVID-19 begins 2 days before the specimen for their first positive COVID-19 test was collected. The infectious period ends 10 days after the specimen for their first positive COVID-19 test was collected.

    • Under AB 685 Section 4 (Labor Code Section 6409.6, subsection 1), employers must provide notice to all employees who were present at the same worksite as someone with COVID-19 during their infectious period.  

  3. Laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19:

    • A laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 is defined as a positive result on any viral test for COVID-19.[1]


Please see CDPH's Employer Questions about AB 685 web page for additional information about AB 685 requirements.


[1] At time of writing, this includes nucleic acid (PCR) and antigen tests. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/testing-overview.html

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