The Centers for Disease Control has updated its guidance on what qualifies as close contact with a person infected with coronavirus. The guidance now defines “close contact” as being within six feet of an infected person for a total of at least 15 minutes in a day, including multiple but short interactions, one or two minutes at a time.
Previously, the CDC defined close contact as spending 15 consecutive minutes with an infected person.
The change comes after a Vermont corrections officer tested positive and displayed symptoms of the virus one week after he had several short interactions, lasting about one minute, with six asymptomatic inmates. The officer wore a mask but the inmates during some of the interactions.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
As the holidays draw near, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health professionals are warning of a potential spike in infections stemming from holiday gatherings, even if they’re small and only among relatives. Health experts point to holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day that drew parties and crowds were to blame for increases in infections over the summer.
Tips for in-person gatherings include the typical safety protocols of mask wearing and handwashing, holding small gatherings outdoors, and maintaining social distance. The CDC also encourages hosts to request that guests avoid contact with people from outside their household for two weeks before the gathering.
Over the past two weeks, 42 states have seen an uptick in hospitalizations and on Tuesday, the U.S. reported more than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases nationwide. The Midwest is being especially hard-hit as South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho and Wisconsin all report that an alarming 20% of recent tests are positive.
Since Oct. 1, there have been almost 973,000 cases reported nationwide. More than 400,000 of those cases have been reported in just the last seven days.
For the first time since March, jobless claims for unemployment benefits fell below 800,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday.
Last week, 787,000 workers claimed first-time benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis. 8.4 million people have applied for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, about 1 million lower than the prior week.
A California appeals court has ordered state corrections officials to cut the population of San Quentin State Prison to less than half of its designed capacity, citing officials’ “deliberate indifference” to the well-being of inmates during the coronavirus crisis.
San Quentin, California’s oldest prison saw one of the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with 28 inmate deaths and 2,200 infections at its peak. Almost 300 employees were infected, and one died. The massive spread is attributed to the poor ventilation, close living quarters and inadequate sanitation of the prison that opened in 1852.
Some inmates, excluding those on death row, will be transferred to other prisons to make room for quarantining and social distancing.
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