The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidelines regarding ‘close contact’ with a person who is covid19 positive. These updated coronavirus guidelines were issued after a corrections officer at Vermont prison became infected with the virus after some brief interactions with the infected prisoners but none of these interactions amounted to 15 minutes.
After this update in the coronavirus guidelines, the definition of close contact will now include, multiple brief interactions with the infected persons, after the officer was infected in the same way, said the director of CDC Dr. Robert Redfield on Wednesday. The new definition of close contact now incorporates interactions of fifteen minutes or less and either 6 feet or closer to an infected person. Previously the agency defined close contact as a continuous period of 15 minutes spent with covid19 positive individuals.
Julia Pringle, an officer of CDC working with the Vermont Health Department, said the infected officer didn’t spent much time with any specific prisoner, but gathered dirty linen, carried out health checks, opened and closed prison cell doors, opened shower doors, open recreation doors, and distributed medication. The inmates in close contact with the officer showed no symptoms and were waiting for the results of their coronavirus tests. Moreover, the corrections officer had 22 brief encounters with the inmates that made nearly 17 minutes when added up.
After a day of the interactions all of the six inmates tested positive for the virus, however, as the officer was not thought to be in close contact with them, he was allowed to continue working. But after a week of those exposures, the symptoms of the virus started emerging in the officer.
The thing worth noting is that the corrections officer was wearing goggles for eye protection, a microfiber cloth face mask, gloves, and a gown. The inmates were also wearing microfiber cloth face masks in most instances, however, according to the CDC, the inmates did not wear face masks during many interactions in the recreation room or in a cell doorway.
Based on these findings the CDC suggested that it is due to those brief encounters with the inmates that the officer was exposed to the coronavirus, as he didn’t travel anywhere during the prior 14 days and also didn’t report close contacts with any other person.
As the CDC updated its coronavirus guidelines, the agency also said that the findings indicate once again how important wearing masks are. This advice by CDC is very important right now as across three fourth of the United States the virus is on a surge and as winter is approaching soon, things are looking pretty grim. According to data from Johns Hopkins, 8.3 million people have been infected with the virus and nearly 222,000 have died.
Every person should wear a face mask while he is in contact with people who are not from his household, irrespective of whether he is ill or not, because even short interactions without a mask can lead to exposure, as in the officer’s case. The best way to bring the virus under control is to wear masks, as it provides protection. Also, another easier way is that people stay at more than 6 feet from each other.