Written by: Susan L. Swatski, Esq.

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 individual at higher risk of contracting the virus.  The CDC updated its guidance to define 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.”

In sum, the standard is now cumulative rather than consecutive minutes which greatly broadens who may need to be notified in the event of a positive case.  For example, a person who was exposed three times in a 24-hour period—for five minutes during each encounter—would meet the definition.  Please check your policies for contact tracing and be sure to note this important change.