The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised and expanded its guidelines concerning what it means to have been in "close contact" with an infected person. Under prior guidance, the CDC defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of an infected person, thus putting the person at higher risk of contracting the virus. The CDC’s updated guidance defines a close contact as:
Someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
The CDC’s focus is now on cumulative rather than consecutive time spent around an infected person. For example, a person who was exposed three times in a 24-hour period, for five minutes during each encounter, would meet the definition. A person who has been in close contact with an infected person is at greater risk.
Employers should revise their Covid-19-related safety policies, including their Virginia OSHA workplace hazard assessments, based on the new definition of close contact.
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