The change significantly expands the definition of who is a "close contact" of someone infected with COVID.
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).
"The correctional officer reported no other known close contact exposures to persons with COVID-19 outside work and no travel outside Vermont during the 14 days preceding illness onset", the CDC says in the report. Now, a person is at risk of infection if they've accumulated 15 minutes of close contact within a 24 hour period.
The update to the definition of a "close contact" was made on Wednesday after there was a small coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in a Vermont prison in July and August.
By race and ethnicity, the percentage increase in deaths was especially high among Hispanic and African Americans, confirming reports that minority groups were at a higher risk.
About a week later, the officer started having symptoms of COVID-19: loss of smell and taste, muscle weakness, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, headache, loss of appetite and an upset stomach.
Health officials went back and reviewed surveillance video of those encounters.
Over an eight-hour shift, those brief encounters added up to about 17 minutes total. At times, the prisoners wore masks, but there were encounters in cell doorways or in a recreational room where prisoners did not have them on, according to a report on the case published Wednesday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The exposure was also traced to two other prison staff members who tested positive.
Besides limiting exposure over time, the report also highlighted the importance of wearing a face mask, as the infected individuals had briefly removed their protective coverings during certain interactions over the course of the day.
"As we get more data and understand this COVID we're going to continue to incorporate that in our recommendations", CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a press conference in Atlanta.
According to the CDC, the number of cases in the country are on an upswing with 70% of health districts experiencing an increase.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nearly 300,000 excess deaths occurred in the country from late January through early this month.