California Law Alerts – December 2020:  Department of Health COVID-19 Guidance
California Department of Public Health (CDPH)  - December 14, 2020


On December 14, 2020, the CDPH released COVID-19 quarantine guidance in response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ December 2, 2020 options to reduce quarantine for those in contact with COVID-19. The CDPH guidance was as follows:

  • All asymptomatic close contacts (within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) may discontinue quarantine after Day 10 from the date of last exposure with or without testing.
  • During critical staffing shortages when there are not enough staff to provide safe patient care, essential critical infrastructure workers in the following categories are not prohibited from returning after Day 7 from the date of last exposure if they have received a negative PCR test result from a specimen collected after Day 5:
  • Exposed asymptomatic health care workers; and
  • Exposed asymptomatic emergency response and social service workers who work face to face with clients in the child welfare system or in assisted living facilities.
  • All exposed asymptomatic contacts permitted to reduce the quarantine period to less than 14 days must:
  • Adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others and the interventions required below, through Day 14.
  • Use surgical face masks at all times during work for those returning after Day 7 and continue to use face coverings when outside the home through Day 14 after last exposure.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14 and if symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing. 

Note: Local health jurisdictions may be more restrictive than the above guidance. 

Healthcare Employers and Workers at High-Risk Locations

Health care employers with critical staffing shortages and lacking the staff to provide safe patient care may use Contingency Capacity Strategies as described by CDC where asymptomatic healthcare personnel (including in skilled nursing facilities during an outbreak when all staff are considered potentially exposed) are allowed to work with a surgical mask or respirator, but still report temperature and absence of symptoms each day until 14 days after exposure. Additionally, persons who work in the following should still quarantine for 14 days in the absence of staffing shortages:

  • High-risk congregate living settings (for instance, skilled nursing facilities, prisons, jails, shelters); or
  • Persons residing or working with severely immunosuppressed persons (for instance, bone marrow or solid organ transplants, and chemotherapy)