Brief Contact May Increase COVID-19 Risk — CDC

CDC redefines COVID-19 close contact, adds brief encounters

Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined a "close contact" as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The guidelines now define close contact as being "within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period".

"CDC is science-based and data-driven, and as a effect as we get more data to understand the science of COVID, we're going to continue to incorporate that in our recommendations", CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said in a news briefing on Wednesday.

The change came on Wednesday, following a study from the CDC and Vermont health officials in August, which found that multiple short-term exposures to someone who's tested positive has led to transmission of the virus. "Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE", the CDC guidelines note.

Previously, the CDC recommended that those who were within 6 feet for 15 minutes of someone infected with the coronavirus should quarantine for two weeks.

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About a week later, the officer started having symptoms of COVID-19: loss of smell and taste, muscle weakness, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, headache, loss of appetite and an upset stomach. After reviewing video surveillance footage at the prison to approximate the frequency and duration of interactions between the correctional officer and infected IDPs, numerous brief, one-minute counters that cumulatively exceeded 15 minutes occurred.

The employee interacted with infected prisoners 22 times over the course of his 8-hour shift, with only short windows of exposure. At times, the prisoners wore masks, but there were encounters in cell doorways or in a recreational room where prisoners did not have them on, the report said.

The CDC says the finding "highlights again the importance of wearing face masks to prevent transmission". "It may have been that one of these six prisoners was a superspreader shedding an bad lot of virus".

The updated CDC guidance will be used by local health departments to decide who should be included in contact tracing, according to press reports. However, the average percentage change in deaths compared with previous years was largest for adults aged 25-44 years (26.5 per cent), the report said.

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