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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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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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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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