CDC Expands Definition Of Close Contact

Volume: 19 | Issue: 66
October 26, 2020

On October 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded its definition of “close contact” for tracking potential transmission of COVID-19. The CDC’s definition still focuses on identifying those who were within 6 feet of an infected person for at least a total of 15 minutes, but adds a caveat that the 15 minutes of exposure does not need to be consecutive minutes and instead can take place intermittently over a 24-hour period. The CDC explains that “individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes),” would constitute close contact.

The Governor’s Office released information about this new definition on October 23, affirming that Nevada “[p]ublic health disease investigators and contact tracers are using this expanded definition during their investigation efforts in order to capture all close contacts and help slow the spread of the disease.” The press release also indicates that Nevada’s COVID Trace app “calculates and identifies an exposure consistent with the CDC’s updated guidance.”

Clearly, this expanded definition may result in more employees requiring isolation after a positive case is identified in the workplace. Nevertheless, it is important for Nevada employers to follow the CDC’s guidance as carefully as possible to best protect employees and customers and to avail themselves of liability protection under Nevada law. The CDC provides the following additional factors to consider when defining close contact: “proximity (closer distance likely increases exposure risk), the duration of exposure (longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the infected individual has symptoms (the period around onset of symptoms is associated with the highest levels of viral shedding), if the infected person was likely to generate respiratory aerosols (e.g., was coughing, singing, shouting), and other environmental factors (crowding, adequacy of ventilation, whether exposure was indoors or outdoors).”

Please contact a KZA attorney if you have questions about this change or otherwise need assistance.

KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.

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