Over the weekend, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a significant update to their guidance on how COVID-19 is spread, acknowledging that the highly infectious virus is transmitted mainly through the air. However, just hours after introducing the new guidance, it has been deleted from their website. Read on to find out why, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Hours Later, the Advice Disappeared
"It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes," the CDC's website read as late as Monday morning. "There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes). In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk."
However, hours later it disappeared. "A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted," a shaded box at the top of the page now reads.
The New York Times reports that according to a federal official familiar with the matter, the document was posted to the website "prematurely" and is still being revised.
The concept that the virus is spread primarily via aerosol transmission isn't new. In July over 200 experts wrote a letter to the World Health Organization urging them to review evidence. Soon after, the WHO confirmed that airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus can occur.
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Outbreaks Have Been Tied to Indoor Activities and Droplets
"There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing," the WHO said in their updated guidance. "In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out."
"When viruses are carried on droplets, these particles are relatively large, so they can't pass through even cloth facial coverings very well," Jaimie Meyer, MD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, explained to Eat This, Not That! Health at the time. "These droplets are also relatively heavy, so they fall to the ground quickly. This is why droplet-borne viruses are primarily passed from person to person when they are in close contact (i.e. within 6 feet)…. Most scientific evidence supports that COVID-19 is primarily carried on droplets, which is why social distancing and mask-wearing work," she maintains. As for yourself: to stay safe during this pandemic, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.