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California Adopts New Covid ETS

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) extended its Covid 19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) to the end of this year, but with some notable changes.

The standards have been revised to follow current California Department of Public Health (CDPH)  isolation and quarantine guidance. CDPH no longer requires close contacts to quarantine after exposure, though those not fully vaccinated or recently infected in the prior 90 days should be excluded from work for at least five days with testing.

Among the changes in the ETS are in some of the key definitions of terms used in the standard.

Close contact and high-risk exposure: Definitions are revised to align with the CDPH’s definitions, switching terminology from “high-risk exposure” to “infectious period” and including references to definitions in CDPH orders.

Covid 19 test: To meet the return-to-work criteria, a test may be both self-administered and self-read only if independent verification of results can be provided, such as a photograph of the results.

Face coverings: The requirement that light does not pass through a mask when it is held up to a light was removed, likely due to concerns that even some respirators (like N95s) may not meet that standard.

Fully vaccinated: This entire definition was deleted, largely because the ETS no longer distinguishes between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. Such distinctions may still hold under local government orders more restrictive than the ETS.

Returned case: This new definition applies to Covid 19 cases in the 90 days after the initial symptom onset (or first positive test, if asymptomatic) for individuals who returned to work pursuant to the related criteria in the ETS and who did not develop Covid 19 symptoms after returning.

Updates were posted to the Revisions to the ETS FAQ, a separate General COVID-19 ETS FAQ and the Cal/OSHA Isolation and Quarantine Fact Sheet.

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