Close Contact

October 26, 2020

As offices reopen, how to manage positive employee test results becomes even more important.  One touchstone in tracing which employees need to quarantine once you discover an employee had a positive result is to determine who has been in “close contact” with the infected employee.  CDC recently revised its definition of this term.  Previously, an employee who had been in close contact was one who had been in close proximity with an infected employee for at least a 15 minute segment of time.  Now, CDC defines this term as “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 has set out some helpful factors to consider when making this determination, including 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).

Finally, the CDC states that mask wearing should not be taken into consideration when making this determination.

Be safe and stay the course.  And of course, let us know if we can help.

Thanks, Jack, Elizabeth and Jim