Tell Your Close Contacts – Contact with COVID-19 Is Closer Than You Think

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Patricia Tsipras

October 28, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidance to redefine “close contact” for purposes of COVID-19 exposure. The CDC previously defined close contact as being within six feet of an infected person for 15 or more consecutive minutes. The CDC’s updated guidance defines close contact as being within six feet of an infected person for a total of 15 of more cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period starting two days before the onset of the infected person’s illness (or, for asymptomatic persons, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the infected person is isolated.

Thus, the analysis now focuses on cumulative, not consecutive, minutes of contact, which expands the reach of COVID-19 exposure. For example, someone who comes into contact with an infected person multiple times per day for a few minutes each time is at just as much risk as someone who comes into contact with the infected person for one longer period.

Key Employer Take-Aways from the New Guidance
• Maintain social distance
• Wear a mask
• Update your social tracing protocols to incorporate the new definition of close contact
• Send home any employee who had a risk of exposure to self-monitor for 14 days


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