CDC Broadens Definition of Close Contact After Spread From "multiple brief encounters"

Grant Boone
October 28, 2020

A new survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has found that mask-wearing has increased as the coronavirus pandemic deepened in the U.S., but younger Americans are the least likely to observe containment measures. The CDC attributed this to publicity for mask-wearing that painted over social distancing and hand-washing.

"Interesting data", Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor of global health and epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, wrote in an email to NPR. Del Rio was not involved in conducting the survey, which appears in this week's issue Weekly report of morbidity and mortality. As a result, higher levels of infection were increasingly seen in the younger age group.

Although they did not offer any particular suggestions for how to reach young people, the CDC scientist urged that making sure young people know what they can do to slow the spread of coronavirus may be a crucial part of curbing the pandemic.

Nevada's public health officials stress, however, that all Nevadans must continue to be mindful and maintain social distance, good hand hygiene and wear a mask when outside their homes.

But the increase in mask wearing aside, all the behaviors recommended from April to June have not changed significantly, except for "avoiding some or all restaurants".

People ages 60 and older were most likely to comply with recommendations, while those ages 18 to 29 were least likely.

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Unsurprisingly, people who reported wearing a face mask also reported practicing a greater number or additional measures to avoid catching or passing along coronavirus.

Among that group, mask-wearing only increased from 69.6 to 86.1 percent from April to June.

But those United States adults who reported wearing masks were more likely to follow other preventive measures and more concerned about helping stop the spread of the virus.

While the proportion of people who reported wearing a mask increased from 78 percent in April up to 89 percent in June, the share of of people who took any other steps decreased over the same time period.

"Older adults might be more concerned about COVID-19, based on their higher risk for severe illness compared with that of younger adults", the researchers say.

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