THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) — In a move that widens the pool of people considered at risk for COVID-19 infection, U.S. health officials released new guidance on Wednesday that redefines who is considered a “close contact” of an infected individual.

The change, issued by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, will likely have the biggest impact in group settings where people are in repeated contact with others for brief periods over the course of a day, such as schools and workplaces, The Washington Post reported.

The CDC had previously defined a “close contact” as someone who spent at least 15consecutiveminutes within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case. Now, a close contact will be defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period. State and local health departments rely on this definition to conduct contact tracing, The Post reported.

The new guidance arrives just as the country is “unfortunately seeing a distressing trend, with cases increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country,” Jay Butler, the CDC deputy director for infectious diseases, said during a media briefing Wednesday at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, The Post reported.

The Washington Post Article

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