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Practice owners should revise their COVID-19 contact tracing protocols to reflect the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines on what it means to have been in close contact with an infected person.
The CDC previously defined close contact as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of an infected person.
In its Oct. 21 guidance, the agency redefines close contact as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset until the time the patient isolated.
Under this new guidance, employers are encouraged to update the COVID-19 Addendum in their Injury and Illness Prevention Plan and apply the new guidance to their contact tracing and assessments. This could mean analyzing brief interactions between employees and infected colleagues or patients that may have occurred several times a day, instead of one or two prolonged exposures.
CDA’s employee tracking form provides detailed guidance on how to properly report a COVID-19 positive employee and thoroughly trace who they’ve been in contact with prior to their symptoms or diagnosis.