By Jill Ripke, Lauren Kulpa, and Brittany Sachs

On October 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its website as to the definition of close contact. The definition has been modified 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.” The CDC clarified that individual exposures add together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). The CDC notes that data is limited, which makes it difficult to define close contact,” but that 15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition for contact investigation.

Companies should review their COVID-19­related policies that reference close contact.