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What the CDC’s New Definition of ‘Close Contact’ Really Means

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Two people with masks and gloves converse while on a train or something

Photo: Iakov Filimonov (Shutterstock)

Repeated brief encounters with the same person are now considered close contact, according to a tweak to the CDC’s definition.

Previously, for somebody to be a “close contact,” they had to remain within six feet of you for a stretch of at least 15 minutes. The change recognizes that, according to recent research, you don’t have to spend 15 minutes with the same person all at once. If you see the same person multiple times a day for a few minutes at a time, they are still considered a close contact if those encounters add up to 15 minutes.

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Here’s the official definition as it stands today:

Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

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That asterisk leads to a footnote longer than the definition itself, a sign that we are still in mostly-unknown territory when it comes to understanding how the coronavirus works. The CDC says the above definition is a reasonably good one if you’re looking for a concrete rule, but adds that plenty of other factors could be considered. You’re probably at higher risk if the person had active symptoms at the time, for example, or if they were up in your face rather than five feet away, or if they were shouting or singing.

We still don’t know how much protection masks really give us, and when you’re considering your contacts with people in your life, you may not realize that you—or the other person—may not be wearing a mask appropriately. For example, you might remember “oh yeah, that guy was wearing a mask,” but maybe it wasn’t fully covering his nose, or maybe it was wet, or made of a type of fabric that lets a lot of droplets through. For all those reasons, masks don’t factor into the “close contact” definition, even though they almost certainly do provide a good bit of protection.

Different organizations may have definitions that differ from the one the CDC uses. Gothamist reports that New York City’s benchmark is 10 minutes of close contact instead of 15, for example. The most important thing to know about the CDC’s rule change is that we have data that suggests shorter interactions add up.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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