22News explains new CDC COVID-19 guidance for close contact

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The CDC has updated its guidance on how COVID-19 can be spread from person to person when they’re in close contact with an infected person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now saying you can contract this virus, even in short interactions.

An outbreak at a Vermont prison has raised concerns on how fast COVID-19 can spread. An investigation showed that a corrections officer was in close contact with six prisoners who later tested positive for COVID-19. The officer was only near the prisoners for about a minute at a time.

But one week later, the officer began exhibiting symptoms and tested positive.

The CDC says if you are within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes a day, you’re at high risk of contracting coronavirus. They’re emphasizing now that this doesn’t have to be 15 consecutives minutes, this could include multiple encounters that last just a minute.

Infectious disease experts say what happened at the prison should serve as a warning to the public on how contagious this virus is, and why mask wearing is so important.

“Even if you think the interaction is going to be short you should be wearing a mask to protect yourself and others. When you go out and about to stores and restaurants it’s not how much but how often.” Dr. Esteban Delpilar-Morales, Infectious Disease Specialist at Baystate Health

Mask-wearing will be more important than ever this fall and winter as more people head indoors, where transmission risks are much greater.

The CDC’s update comes as COVID-19 outbreaks continue in most of the country. Their latest reports show cases increasing in nearly 75 percent of the country.

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