October 22, 2020

CDPH Issues Guidance on AB 685, California’s New COVID-19 Law

Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 17, 2020, AB 685 (Reyes) 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. Additionally, the bill enhances the Division of Occupational Health and Safety’s (Cal/OSHA) ability to enforce health and safety standards to prevent workplace exposure to and spread of COVID-19.

Last Friday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued two documents on AB 685 compliance. WG members should be aware of the following immediate implications:

  1. Definitions

In its requirements for employers, AB 685 refers to terms as defined by the CDPH. CDPH definitions for these terms are below.

  • COVID-10 Outbreak: A COVID-19 outbreak is defined as at least three COVID-19 cases among workers at the same worksite within a 14-day period.
  • Infectious Period: For an individual who develops symptoms, the infection period begins 2 days before they first develop symptoms and ends when 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 begins 2 days before the specimen for their first positive COVID-19 test was collected and ends 10 days after the specimen for their first positive COVID-19 test was collected.
  • Laboratory-Confirmed Case: A positive result on any viral test for COVID-19.

Click here to access the CDPH’s Employer Guidance on AB 685: Definitions page.

  1. Employer Questions

The CDPH guidance addresses employer questions about AB 685, including:

  • What information am I required to give workers, and which workers must be notified?
  • When am I required to report COVID-19 cases to the local health department, and what information should I report?
  • How do local health departments and CDPH use the information I report?
  • Who qualifies as a COVID-19 case?
  • What does AB 685 authorize CAL/OSHA to do?
  • Which employers have to follow AB 685?
  • Where can I find more information about AB 685 and COVID-19 in the workplace?

Click here to access CDPH’s Employer Questions about AB 685 page.

Keep in mind, CDPH already issued COVID-19 employer guidance earlier this year. This guidance also requires employers to notify local health departments if there are 3 or more cases of COVID-19 in their workplace within a 2-week period. This requirement is already in effect, so employers must follow it now. The additional requirements under AB 685 go into effect on January 1, 2021.

Click here to access CDPH’s Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace for Employers guidance document.