The CDC Now Says You Can Catch COVID From Someone in Exactly This Long

Zachary Mack
·2 min read

For months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been urging people to follow several basic health guidelines to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Besides telling people to remain six feet apart, wear a face mask in public, and regularly wash their hands, they've also set recommendations on how to avoid exposing yourself to the virus and when to get a COVID test. But the CDC has changed its guidelines again on Oct. 21, now stating that spending 15 minutes with someone infected with the virus over the course of a day is considered a "close contact" and can be long enough for you to catch COVID from them. Read on for more on this key update, and for the latest with COVID, check out These 4 States Are Showing the First Signs of Another Lockdown.

The most recent CDC update will greatly increase the number of people who warrant a considerable infection risk, The Washington Post reports. The previous definition of "close contact" meant spending 15 "consecutive minutes" within six feet of someone who's infected with the coronavirus. Now, it has been changed to include anyone who has spent a total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period with an infected person, according to the CDC's statement.

young couple talking with mask pulled down
young couple talking with mask pulled down

The change comes as the agency released new evidence on the same day on how the novel coronavirus is transmitted. In a joint report compiled with health officials in Vermont, the CDC found that a 20-year-old prison employee contracted the virus after they had 22 interactions totaling 17 minutes over an eight-hour shift with infected individuals.

Besides limiting exposure over time, the report also highlighted the importance of wearing a face mask, as the infected individuals had briefly removed their protective coverings during certain interactions over the course of the day. "While a mask provides some limited protection to the wearer, each additional person who wears a mask increases the individual protection for everyone," the report states. "When more people wear masks, more people are protected."

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For more on how places are faring with the pandemic from coast to coast, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.