CDC Modifies COVID-19 Contact Requirements

Chamber News

An alert from Ufberg & Associates

On October 21, the CDC made a significant change to its COVID-19 contact tracing guidance by modifying its definition of “close contact” of a COVID-positive individual.

Prior to the change, the CDC defined a “close contact” as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more during the 48 hour period immediately preceding the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, or the time a sample that resulted in a positive test was taken.

The new definition of “close contact” includes someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the 48 hour period immediately preceding the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, or the time a sample that resulted in a positive test was taken. The CDC also included pronouncements of two other points:

  • Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95 or other respirators, the determination of close contact should generally be made without regard to whether the individual was wearing respiratory personal protective equipment.
  • The use of fabric face coverings should not affect a determination of whether a “close contact” has occurred.

The CDC’s new definition of “close contact” will almost certainly result in more individuals being included in potential COVID-19 exposure determinations, which in turn will result in more employees being instructed to quarantine to avoid spreading the virus. Organizations that have not already done so can consider the following steps to limit exposure:

  1. Allow employees to work remotely, when possible
  2. Shut down common areas of the facility, such as break rooms, and/or limit the ability of employees to circulate between different areas of the facility
  3. Assign employees to work groups, or stagger shifts, to limit potential exposure

Given the potential impact of the new definition on contact tracing, taking proactive steps
to limit exposure before it occurs remains the best way for an organization to protect its
workforce, prevent the spread of the disease, and meet productivity requirements.

This alert provides a general overview of new legal developments. It is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have questions or would like more information about how these developments may affect your business, please contact us at (570) 341-8800.