CDC redefines who is a ‘close contact’

Federal health officials issued new guidance that greatly expands the pool of people considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus by changing the definition of who is a “close contact” of an infected individual. The change by the CDC is likely to have its biggest impact in schools, workplaces and other group settings where people are in contact with others for long periods of time. The CDC had previously defined a “close contact” as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The updated guidance, which health departments rely on to conduct contact tracing, now defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, according to the CDC. The guidance is based on unsettling new evidence about transmission of the corona­virus, which causes COVID-19. In a report published Wednesday, CDC and Vermont health officials discovered the virus was spread to a 20-year-old prison employee who interacted with individuals who later tested positive for the virus after 22 interactions that took place over 17 minutes during an eight-hour shift.

Spain tightens rules as cases top 1 million

Spain became the first country in western Europe to accumulate more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 infections as the nation of 47 million struggles to contain a resurgence of the virus. The health ministry said that its cumulative caseload since the start of the pandemic reached 1,005,295 after reporting 16,973 more cases in the past 24 hours. The ministry attributes 34,366 deaths to COVID-19. As the numbers rise, authorities are tightening restrictions. The regional government of northern Aragon announced it has closed the city limits of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel. Neighboring Navarra, which leads Spain in infections per 100,000 over 14 days, is preparing to become the first Spanish region to close its borders on Thursday. And La Rioja will also close its regional borders on Friday.

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