With coronavirus still spreading at alarming rates across the United States, reducing contact with potentially infected individuals is a top priority for Americans everywhere. But what you may have been considering a safe encounter could actually be putting you at risk. As scientists and medical experts have learned more about the virus, what constitutes as potential exposure has also evolved. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the initially established guidelines for what constitutes a "close contact" may no longer be enough to protect you against COVID-19.

The CDC's early definition of a close contact—initially defined as being closer than 6 feet to a person with COVID for 15 minutes or more—is simply not a stringent enough guideline. In a call with members of the media on July 27, John Brooks, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the CDC's COVID-19 response, announced that those metrics for the distance and duration of an interaction should be viewed as merely "a rule of thumb."

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