US surgeon general issues reminder about how CDC defines ‘close contact’

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a reminder Monday about what federal health officials define as being in “close contact” with someone infected with COVID-19, citing continued confusion over the topic.

In a Twitter post, Adams noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines being in close contact as anyone who is within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more.

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“If you meet these criteria you may need testing and quarantine,” Adams tweeted.

Adams included other criteria indicating if someone has been in “close contact” with the virus, potentially exposing themselves.

This includes any individual who has provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19, had direct physical contact with the infected person (hugged or kissed), shared eating or drinking utensils with them, or anyone who has been coughed or sneezed on by a person with the virus.

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In any case where someone believes they have been exposed to the virus they should self-isolate, the CDC says.

Close contacts who were not diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 90 days and do not have symptoms are asked to isolate for two weeks from the time they were potentially exposed. They should also be referred for testing.

Those who are symptomatic should self-isolate immediately for a period of 10 days after symptoms arise. They should also be referred for testing and medical care, the CDC said.

Even if a test comes back negative, patients will still be asked to quarantine for the same length of time.

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