Masking requirement continues in California health care settings.
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Dentistry, defined as a “high-risk setting” by the California Department of Public Health, adheres to specific COVID-19 infection-control guidance from the state and, recently, the CDPH changed its recommendation for vaccinated workers in high-risk settings.
The CDPH now recommends that vaccinated workers in high-risk settings be tested for COVID-19 immediately following a “close-contact” exposure and again three to five days after the exposure. New recommendations for work exclusion or restriction in these settings also apply.
Separately, the fourth and final version of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards will take effect May 7 and end Dec. 31, 2022. The final standard updates testing and return-to-work requirements for workers to align with the CDPH’s latest guidance but otherwise brings no new requirements for employers. The ETS does reinforce and retain existing requirements.
Until version four takes effect May 7, dentists should continue to follow the current version of the ETS.
CDA has updated resources, linked later in this article, to help dentists comply with the revised testing and return-to-work requirements.
Previous CDPH guidance directed fully vaccinated individuals in high-risk settings to be tested on day five after a close-contact exposure with COVID-19.
Under recently updated state guidance, vaccinated and boosted individuals in high-risk settings, which include dental offices, should:
Close contact means being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period within or overlapping with the “infectious period” without a respirator worn in accordance with a respiratory protection program.
Testing and quarantining is not required for individuals who had COVID-19 within the last 90 days unless symptoms start, in which case the individuals should isolate and get tested. Those individuals can continue working but must wear a face mask. As a reminder, everyone in dental and other health care settings must continue to wear masks.
Dentists can use CDA’s resource, Reporting Symptoms/Positive Test for COVID-19, to ensure they are following the current COVID-19 reporting and return-to-work requirements for employees. Originally published in 2020, the resource has been updated several times to reflect changing guidance.
Cal/OSHA adopted the first ETS in December 2020 to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19.
Among other things, the ETS has required employers to develop a COVID-19 prevention plan and provide prevention training to employees.
Effective May 7-Dec. 31, 2022, the final ETS:
CDA has updated its COVID-19 Prevention Plan to reflect the testing and return-to-work guidance in the new ETS that take effect May 7. Instead of developing a new written prevention plan for COVID-19, dentists can use this customizable plan as an addendum to the practice’s existing injury and illness prevention plan. Both satisfy the Cal/OSHA requirement.