This guidance was released on June 16, 2020 and revised on September 11 to:
align return to work criteria with updated guidance from CDC on release from isolation, issued on July 17, 2020.
This checklist is intended for use by local health department (LHD) assisting employers in their jurisdictions who have identified cases of COVID-19 at
the workplace. In non-healthcare or non-residential congregate setting workplaces, an employer must use the reporting
threshold of three or more
laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers who live in different
households within a two-week period to notify the LHD. While CDPH also defines
a workplace outbreak as three
or more cases identified within two weeks in individuals of different
households, LHDs may use epidemiological tracing methods to determine if the
cases in a workplace constitute an outbreak, and LHDs may set other criteria
for more detailed outbreak investigation. LHDs should report workplace outbreaks to CDPH via CalREDIE
or their usual reporting mechanism. As outbreak
circumstances and work practices vary, LHDs may need to tailor their
recommendations to meet the specific needs of the workplace.
This guidance is not
intended for use in managing or preventing outbreaks in healthcare,
congregate living settings, or other workplaces where the California
Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard (title 8 section 5199) applies.
LHDs and employers should also consult:
See Resources section at end of document for links.
further assistance with COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces, LHDs may seek
consultation from the California Department of Public Health,
Occupational Health Branch, by emailing email@example.com or calling the reporting hotline at 510-255-8922 and specifying a request for workplace outbreak assistance.
3. Understand requirements for reporting worker cases to Cal/OSHA.
4. Identify additional worker cases and close contacts of cases to control further spread in the workplace.
5. Consider whether to temporarily suspend operations due to COVID-19 infection in the workplace.
6. Notification and instruction to workers.
7. Determine when it is appropriate for cases and contacts of cases to return to work.
Minimum Criteria for Return to Work
(As of August 7, 2020)
CDC Reference Page
(The most recent CDC guidance should be consulted prior to allowing the employee to return to work)
Employees with symptoms who are laboratory confirmed to have COVID-19
least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; and at
least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of
fever-reducing medications; and symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of
breath) have improved.
Workers who never had symptoms and are laboratory confirmed to have COVID-19
minimum of 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive
COVID-19 test. If they develop symptoms, then the criteria for
laboratory confirmed cases with symptoms apply.
who had symptoms of COVID-19 but test result returned negative
Workers who never had symptoms but were tested due to close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case patient and were negative
should quarantine at home for 14 days after the last known close contact with
the case patient. Symptoms can develop even after testing negative within 14
days after exposure. The LHD may consider allowing earlier return to work only for
a worker in a critical infrastructure industry in which the essential
operations of the workplace would be compromised by quarantine of the worker
and no alternate staff can perform the same role.*
who had symptoms of COVID-19 but were not tested
who had close contact to a laboratory-confirmed case patient at work,
home, or in the community and do not have symptoms.
who refuse or are unable to be tested after close contact with a
laboratory-confirmed case, despite recommendation for testing from LHD
or healthcare provider, and do not have symptoms.
Workers should be quarantined at home for 14 days after the last
known close contact with the case patient. Testing is highly recommended; if
testing has not occurred, the LHD may consider allowing a worker who had close
contact to a confirmed case to continue to work only in a critical
infrastructure industry in which the essential operations of the workplace
would be compromised by quarantine of the worker and no alternate staff can
perform the same role.*
Workers who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in quarantine
should contact their healthcare provider. Even if they are not tested, the same
criteria for return to work should be used as laboratory-confirmed cases.
14-day quarantine would compromise essential operations, the LHD may determine
that some workers in these two groups may return to work sooner than 14 days by
considering certain criteria specific to the workplace and worker:
The worker is able to wear a surgical mask throughout the workday, except while
eating, and comply with all infection prevention procedures. A cloth face
covering may also be used in the event of mask shortage.
The facility has implemented all best practice infection prevention procedures,
as determined by the LHD.
Pre-screening to assess worker temperature and symptoms prior to starting work
has been implemented, ideally before entering the facility.
Worker is able to self-monitor for temperature and symptoms at home and work.
Worker is able to maintain a minimum of six feet of distance from other workers
in the workplace.
Physical barriers are in place between fixed work locations to supplement
Cleaning and disinfection of all areas and shared equipment can be performed
routinely in the workplace.
LHDs should clarify to
employers that testing reflects a worker's status at a single point in
time only. If a worker tests negative, they may still develop COVID-19
infection from a recent or subsequent exposure and should be instructed
to quarantine at home if that occurs. Testing may be needed at repeated
intervals to capture all positive cases, especially if an outbreak is
Multiple LHDs with residents employed in a
single workplace experiencing an outbreak should coordinate release from
isolation recommendations with each other and the employer to ensure a
Ensure that employers are taking appropriate steps to reduce ongoing
transmission in the workplace, including appropriate infection control
and physical distancing measures. Additional detail on recommended
measures, both in general and by industry, are available in the
Additional Resources section at the end. General principles include: