Long Beach To Tighten COVID Isolation Rules Monday

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LONG BEACH (CNS) - Long Beach, which is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases along with the rest of Southern California, will enforce new rules regarding isolation and quarantine beginning tomorrow to align with Los Angeles County's new requirements.

Long Beach -- which like Pasadena has its own health department separate from the county -- said the new regulations are based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health.

Updates to the city's health order, effective Monday, are as follows:

-- Isolation. Those who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection or lack of symptoms, will be required to self-isolate for at least five days. People may only end their self-isolation after day five if they are asymptomatic or fever-free and their symptoms are improving and they test negative on or after day five. People are required to wear a mask around others, both indoors and outdoors. Adults should wear a well-fitting medical-grade mask (surgical or respirator). Children should wear a well-fitting, non-cloth, surgical-style mask of multiple layers of non-woven material with a nose wire. Anyone unable or unwilling to test may end isolation on day 10 if symptoms are not present or are resolving.

-- Quarantine. Individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received their COVID-19 vaccine booster, if eligible, do not need to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure. They should test immediately, and if negative, should test again on day five after the last contact with the person who has COVID-19. They must wear a well-fitting medical-grade mask (surgical or respirator) while around others, indoors and outdoors, for 10 days after the exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately isolate and test as soon as possible (do not wait until five days after exposure to retest if symptoms develop earlier) and, if positive, continue to self-isolate as described above.

Those who are unvaccinated or have not received their booster dose, who come in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19 must quarantine for at least five days after their last contact with that person. People who are exposed should test immediately after contact and, if negative, again on day five after their last exposure. If unable or unwilling to test, and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end on day 10.

In workplaces, most employers and businesses are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards and some to the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standards and should consult those regulations for additional requirements. The ETS allow local health jurisdictions to require more protective mandates. This Health Order, which requires masking of all individuals at indoor public settings and businesses, and outdoor mega-events, regardless of vaccination status, is a such a mandate, and overrides the more permissive ETS regarding employee masking.

-- Outbreak Procedures. In establishments and settings with active outbreaks, quarantine and isolation may be extended for additional days by City Public Health outbreak investigators to help lower the risk of ongoing transmission at the site. Health care personnel in any setting must comply with the State's Guidance on Quarantine for Health Care Personnel Exposed to SARS- CoV-2 and Return to Work for HCP with COVID-19, as described in AFL-21-08.6.

As soon as practicable, all employers and businesses must provide and require on-site employees, assigned or contracted workers or volunteers to wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, at all times while indoors at the worksite or facility.

Long Beach has seen a steep rise in cases following the introduction of the Omicron variant. The average daily number of cases increased by 1,234% last month -- from 44 cases on Dec. 1 to 587 on Dec. 29. Area hospitalizations rose from 51 on Dec. 20 to 129 on Dec. 28, still below the 263 Long Beach residents hospitalized during the winter surge that occurred at the beginning of 2021.

Of those who are currently hospitalized, 71% are unvaccinated, officials said.

``While cases are rising in Long Beach, the good news is that hospitalizations are not increasing as quickly as they were last January,'' city Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in a statement last week. ``This is a testament to the fact that vaccinations and boosters are proving effective at preventing severe disease.''

Long Beach's Billie Jean King Main Library was closed Thursday due to a ``known COVID-19 exposure.'' Library officials said the affected areas were being cleaned, and the library is scheduled to reopen Tuesday.

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