What We’re Reading: Purdue to Pay $8 Billion; "Close Contact" Definition Broadened; Ireland Reimposes Lockdown

Purdue Pharma will pay $8.3 billion in criminal charges; the CDC expands its definition of "close contact"; Ireland announces new lockdown.

Purdue Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges

Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay roughly $8.3 billion in penalties for its role in the opioid epidemic, The New York Times reports. The Justice Department announced the settlement Wednesday, and members of the Sackler family, who own the company, will be responsible for paying $225 million in civil penalties. However, criminal investigations into the company continue, and charges can still be brought against Purdue executives or individual family members. Thousands of lawsuits had been brought against Purdue Pharma for its role in the crisis that has killed over 450,000 Americans in the past 2 decades.

CDC Widens "Close Contact" Criteria

The CDC expanded its definition of coming in "close contact" with an individual with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), STAT News reports. The announcement comes as new reports show the virus can be transmitted during relatively brief interactions. The CDC previously described a close contact as an individual who spent 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of an infectious person. The revised definition includes anyone who has spent a cumulative 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of an infectious individual over a period or 24 hours, even if the interaction wasn’t consecutive. Any person who has been in close contact with an infectious individual are located via contact tracing and recommended to quarantine.

Ireland Imposes New Lockdown

Ireland has become the first European country to reimpose a COVID-19 lockdown amid a surge in cases, according to The Washington Post. The Irish government is currently urging everyone who can to “stay at home” as part of the new 6-week lockdown, although schools remain open. On Wednesday, 10 European countries announced record numbers of daily cases while Ireland has reported a total of 53,400 confirmed cases among its population of 5 million. The country has reported a total of 1868 deaths. The new measures, in place until December 1, will close most nonessential retail establishment, including hairdressers and barbers.