The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance on the COVID-19 coronavirus this Monday, confirming the airborne transmission of infected particles — which can "linger in the air for minutes to hours," even between people spaced more than 6 ft (roughly 1.8 m) apart, according to the CDC's official website.
CDC updates guidance, confirms airborne coronavirus transmission
The CDC's update included reports describing "limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area," reports CNBC.
"In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise," said a statement from the CDC. "Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles."
Regarding the latest update, the agency said it's "much more common" for the virus to spread via larger respiratory droplets — typically released when people sneeze, sing, cough, breathe, or talk. Such droplets typically infect people while in close proximity to infected people, said the CDC.
"CDC's recommendations remain the same based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance," said the agency, CNBC reports. "People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick."
Earlier CDC error on airborne COVID-19 transmission
This comes on the heels of an earlier change in the agency's guidelines, eliminating mistaken language that suggested the virus might spread via aerosols. This was quickly eliminated.
"A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agencies official website," read an email from CDC spokesman Jason McDonald to CNN. At the time, the agency said it was updating its recommendations to account for airborne coronavirus transmission, and this latest update seems to be the result.
The consensus regarding the degree to which coronavirus particles may spread via airborne particles is not without contention. Some epidemiologists claim the World Health Organization and federal regulatory agencies in several countries were slow to accept the airborne path of contagion. Right or wrong, the importance of air recycling and filtration is paramount as businesses and schools consider reopening later this year.
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