The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its definition of a close contact with a COVID-19 patient to include multiple, brief exposures after a Vermont prison worker appears to have been infected that way, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday.
The new definition includes exposures adding up to a total of 15 minutes spent 6 feet or closer to an infected person. Previously, the CDC defined a close contact as 15 minutes of continuous exposure to an infected individual.
The agency changed the definition after a report from Vermont of a corrections officer who became infected after several brief interactions with coronavirus-positive inmates — none of them lasting 15 minutes, but adding up over time.
The corrections officer never spent much time with any particular inmate, but opened and closed cell doors, collected soiled linen, opened doors to shower and recreation rooms for inmates, conducted health checks and dispensed medication, Julia Pringle, a CDC officer working with the Vermont Department of Health, and colleagues reported.
By: Maggie Fox and Lauren Mascarenhas
Published: KSL/ CNN