CDC report: 300K more deaths than average so far this year

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 24, 2020

This week, the agency updated their language defining "close contact" as someone who has spent 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period within six feet of someone who has tested positive (nixing the consecutive requirement).

Almost 300,000 more people have died in the United States in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic than expected based on historical trends, with about two-thirds of the deaths due to COVID-19 illnesses, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released on Tuesday.

And the correctional officer reported no other known close contacts to individuals infected with COVID-19 outside work, and no travel outside Vermont during the 14 days before he got the illness. The experience did not meet the CDC's criteria at the time for "close contact" with a confirmed COVID-19 case, defined as closer than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes.

People who have come into close contact with a coronavirus-infected person are supposed to quarantine and be tested.

Time of exposure does contribute to rate of transmission, however, CDC said. The next day, all six inmates received positive test results. At least one of the positive IDPs during the brief encounters was asymptomatic, the CDC stated. Close contact, in addition to being within six feet, can also include sharing eating or drinking utensils, hugging, kissing, providing home care to someone infected or if someone were to sneeze or cough on you.

Jeffrey Engel, senior adviser for the COVID-19 response for the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, said he doubted most health departments would have the resources to do the kind of detailed case investigations needed to identify people who have accumulated 15 minutes of exposure through multiple encounters.

The definition change was triggered by a report on that case of a 20-year-old Vermont correctional officer, who was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection in August. All told, he spent about 17 minutes with people who were infected but not showing symptoms during his 8-hour shift, according to video footage that recorded his interactions with prisoners.

The report said the correctional officer wore a microfiber cloth mask at all times but the people he interacted with did not wear masks "during several encounters in a cell doorway or in the recreation room".

The risk of spread is considered to be lower outdoors, but the CDC guidance update "makes scientific sense", said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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