December 21, 2020

Dear Colleague, 

New COVID-19 Guidance Provided to Departments by CalHR. In response to CAPS’ continued communication and efforts to advocate for the health and protection of members, CalHR has provided additional guidance to departments produced by CalOSHA. 

The new guidance stresses the confidentiality of employees who test positive; the use of face coverings; free testing for all employees under specific circumstances; the screening of employees; web-based trainings on the prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace; and that employees with COVID-19 exposure or employees who have a confirmed positive COVID-19 test are excluded from the workplace for a specified period. 

Confidentiality. Of note, the guidance requires that the confidentiality of employees who test positive be maintained, and that “if there are fewer than 11 cases to report, departments should not identify the actual number of cases.” It also stresses that departments must “clearly communicate procedures for reporting exposures and hazards, requesting reasonable accommodations, and accessing testing, when necessary.”

Face Coverings. The guidance additionally requires that face coverings be worn everywhere in state buildings, except for while sitting alone in a room. It no longer allows employees to remove masks while seated at their desks in a cubicle, which some departments have previously allowed. 

COVID-19 Testing. If there are are three or more positive cases in a workplace within a 14-day period, the guidelines require employers to provide testing to all employees “on employer-provided time…until the workplace no longer qualifies as an outbreak.”

Hazard Assessment and Employee Screening. Departments are required to “regularly assess workplace risk and adjust when needed to ensure employee safety.” They are also required to implement a process for screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19. The guidance stresses that this may satisfied by an employee self-screening.

Training. All Departments are directed to provide a web-based training on the prevention of COVID-19 infection in the workplace for all employees. 

Exclusion from Work. The new guidelines use the updated CDC and CDPH guidance for quarantine periods, which defines “exposure,” as “being within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or greater in any 24-hour period.” Notably, it allows asymptomatic employees who have experienced a COVID-19 exposure to discontinue quarantine after ten days from their last exposure without testing. However, if they discontinue quarantine in less than 14 days, they must “adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others,” and self-monitoring for symptoms through Day 14. If symptoms occur, employees are to “immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.” Finally, the guidance stipulates, “if at any time during the quarantine period the employee becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19 and is unable to telework, the employee shall use any available leave credits until they can return to work.”

CAPS continues to thank all our State Scientists for serving the public, and keeping California running throughout this pandemic. We hope you and your family and friends stay safe and well in these hectic times. 

Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our communities and the world, all CAPS Alerts have been sent to all State Scientists in Unit 10, members and nonmembers alike. These regular communications are a privilege typically reserved for CAPS members. CAPS feels this information is too important not to share with nonmembers; however, we ask that you consider joining today. We are stronger together. Help us continue to advocate on behalf of all State Scientists. 

Now is the time for unity and solidarity. Join CAPS to ensure your voice is heard. CHOOSE UNITY! CHOOSE STRENGTH! CHOOSE CAPS!