Too Close for Comfort – CDC and DHS Clarify “Close Contact” for Quarantine Purposes

Ruder Ware

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) have updated the definition of “close contact” for quarantine purposes. Previous guidance provided that close contact meant spending a solid 15-minute period of time within six feet from someone infected with COVID-19.

On Wednesday, October 21, 2020 the CDC expanded their definition of “close contact.” Now, it is defined as someone who has been within six feet of a COVID-19 infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. Thus, individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period that total 15 minutes or more is sufficient to qualify as close contact – for example, three five-minute periods of exposure during a work day. Click here to see the CDC’s updated guidance.

Further, the DHS updated its guidance on October 15, 2020. They have now defined close contact as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a period of 15 minutes total in a day. More information on this guidance from the DHS can be found here.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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