Excerpted from Lexology by Jackson Lewis PC

On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, the CDC issued new guidance expanding the definition of a “close contact” from someone who has been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive person for 15 minutes or more to:

“Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.”

This shift in definition appears to be based on a case study of a single prison guard in Vermont who contracted COVID-19 after interacting within 6 feet of 6 inmates who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. In an article also published on the CDC’s website on Wednesday, the authors noted that the prison guard had 22 interactions with the 6 inmates for a cumulative 17 minutes over a 24-hour period. Seven days later, the prison guard began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and 5 days after that he tested positive for COVID-19. The inmates had worn microfiber cloth masks during most interactions with the prison guard that occurred outside a cell but had several interactions with the prison guard without masks. The prison guard wore a microfiber cloth mask, gown, and goggles for eye protection in all his interactions. He also wore gloves during most interactions.
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