The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has again changed its COVID-19 guidance to say the virus can be transmitted through the air.
Last month, the CDC quietly updated its guidance to reflect what many scientists have been saying for months – that the coronavirus can spread via droplets when someone so much as talks or breathes – but then days later removed the guidance, saying it was posted in error.
But now, the CDC has updated its guidance again on how COVID-19 spreads, albeit the new guidance, which says the virus can be transmitted through the air, is not as serious-sounding as the draft guidance it posted and then removed last month.
In a statement to CNN, the CDC said:
"CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19.
"Today's update acknowledges the existence of some published reports showing 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. In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise. Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles."
The new guidance notes that it's more common for the virus to spread through close contact with someone who has COVID-19 than it is through airborne transmission, bu the CDC does say that there is evidence that under certain conditions people with COVID-19 have infected people who are more than 6 feet away, like when they were singing or exercising, and the people who were infected were in the same space at the same time as the person with COVID-19 or shortly after.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC urges people to stay more than 6 feet away from others, wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowded indoor spaces, stay home and isolate when you're sick and routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
This updated guidance (you can read it all here) comes on the same day President Donald Trump says he'll be released from the hospital and return to the White House. Last week, the day before Trump tested positive for COVID-19, he visited Minnesota, which has health officials here urging people who attended his events to get tested and anyone who met with him to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their COVID-19 test results.