INDIANAPOLIS — With nearly 2,900 new COVID-19 cases reported by the Indiana State Department of Health Thursday, Indiana has hit a record for new daily infections.
The Centers for Disease Control has changed its guidelines on how long you should spend with another person, infected or not, to avoid the virus.
The CDC now recommends limiting your 15 minutes of exposure over the course of a day as opposed to one sitting.
“It’s not like there was a magical difference between 14 minutes and 15 minutes,” said Shandy Dearth, director of undergraduate epidemiology at the Fairbanks School of Public Health. “The Indiana Department of Health and the Marion County Public Health Department have both been pushing the idea of 15 minutes of contact throughout the day, and I think people were getting stuck on that 15 minutes, so I think it’s great the CDC added 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
“We were seeing teachers and coaches really get stuck on that 15 minutes, and they were allowing students to do small group projects for ten minutes at a time, multiple times throughout the day, that sort of that thing.”
Dearth said the previous 15 consecutive minutes guideline was set with the ease of jogging a contact’s memory of a larger block of time in the presence of another person as opposed to recalling a minute here and a minute there all day long.
“I would say I’m encouraged by this, not frustrated by this, because for those of us in the public health world, this was a more common sense approach to explaining this to the public,” she said. “We’ve got cases increasing across the U.S., across the state, here in the city, so it’s really important that we cast a wider net when we’re trying to track down the cases.
“Obviously, if numbers get too high, then contact tracing becomes less efficient,” said Dearth. “Right now we’re still doing a decent job of tracing contacts, getting connections with those people, letting them know they’ve been in contact with a person and guiding them to be tested.”