This past week updated guidance was issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding identification of a close contact for COVID-19.
Previously, close contact was defined as being near an infected individual for 15 minutes and within 6 feet.
With the updated guidance, a close contact is now defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period.
With this update, multiple brief interactions with an infected person may qualify a person as a close contact if those interactions total 15 minutes or longer compared to the previous guidance which identified a close contact as a person the individual was near for 15 consecutive minutes or more.
With this new, expanded definition, Nevadans are asked to be mindful of their interactions with others and stay vigilant in practicing social distancing. Public health disease investigators and contact tracers are using this expanded definition during their investigation efforts in order to capture all close contacts and help slow the spread of the disease.
If a person is identified as a close contact they must self-quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure to the positive person.
It is recommended that all contacts are tested for COVID-19, however a negative test result does not negate the 14-day quarantine period.
In August, Nevada released the COVID Trace app to help identify close contacts of those who have COVID-19. The free app, available for both iOS and Android phones, does not collect personal information but exchanges anonymous Bluetooth “tokens” with other devices within the exposure criteria.
The COVID Trace app calculates and identifies an exposure consistent with the CDC’s updated guidance. This method has been in place since the app was launched, as it was recognized that any encounter with an infected individual could be an exposure.
A notification is triggered through the app when the exposure risk meets the threshold of cumulative time and proximity.
While traditional contact tracing methods and COVID Trace are effective in identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, all Nevadans must continue to be mindful and maintain social distance, good hand hygiene and wear a mask when you are outside your home.
Information on Nevada’s COVID Trace app can be found here.