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CDC expands definition of COVID-19 ‘close contact’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday expanded how it defines a “close contact” of someone with Covid-19 as it released new evidence showing the coronavirus can be passed during relatively brief interactions (Source: “CDC expands definition of ‘close contacts,’ after study suggests Covid-19 can be passed in brief interactions,” Stat News, Oct. 21).

Previously, the CDC described a close contact as someone who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious. Now, the agency says it’s someone who spent a cumulative 15 minutes or more within six feet of someone who was infectious over 24 hours, even if the time isn’t consecutive, according to an agency spokesperson.

Close contacts are those who are tracked down during contact tracing and are recommended to quarantine.

The announcement from the CDC comes as scientists described in a new study how a correctional officer in Vermont appears to have contracted the coronavirus during “multiple brief encounters” with six incarcerated people who had Covid-19. The infected people were awaiting the results of their Covid-19 tests while the interactions happened.