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CDC again updates guidance to say Covid-19 can spread by airborne transmission

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has again updated its...

Posted: Oct 5, 2020 5:01 PM
Updated: Oct 5, 2020 5:01 PM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has again updated its guidance about how Covid-19 spreads to include information about potential for airborne transmission.

"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," the agency said in a statement on Monday.

"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."

Still, the available data suggest "it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission," the new guidance says.

How Covid-19 spreads

The agency still says Covid-19 is thought to mainly spread through close contact between people -- within 6 feet of each other.

"When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets," the guidance says. "Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream."

But the CDC now says the virus can spread through small particles of virus that linger in the air and may be able to infect people more than 6 feet away. In enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, a person who was breathing heavily -- while singing or exercising, for example -- can infect people who aren't nearby, even after the person with Covid-19 has left the space.

The new guidance is also clear about asymptomatic transmission: "People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others," it says.

However, CDC says Covid-19 spreads "less commonly" through contact with contaminated surfaces, and "rarely" between people and animals.

CDC says people can protect themselves from the coronavirus by staying 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth, washing hands frequently, cleaning surfaces and staying home when sick.

CDC says previous guidance was posted in error

Many researchers and doctors have said for months that coronavirus can be transmitted through small airborne viral particles. In July, 239 scientists published a letter that urged the World Health Organization and other public health organizations to be more forthcoming about the likelihood that people could catch the virus from droplets floating in the air.

Some said they were encouraged last month when the agency updated its guidance to say Covid-19 could spread through the air.

But days later, CDC abruptly reverted to its earlier guidance, which did not include information about airborne transmission. The agency said a draft version of proposed changes had been posted in error, and the guidance would be updated again once the scientific review process was completed.

The unvetted post followed reports of interference in other CDC guidance and reports and sparked concerns about political pressure.

"The fact that they retracted this, even though this is common scientific knowledge at this point, one has to wonder what's behind it," said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician at George Washington University and CNN medical analyst, said last month. "Was there political pressure? Political interference that's driving this rather than science?"

In a statement on Monday, CDC said its recommendations to prevent spread remained the same "based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance."

"The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus," it says.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294091

Reported Deaths: 6669
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19626230
Hinds18745386
Harrison16618278
Rankin12662264
Jackson12509224
Lee9679160
Madison9432199
Jones7928146
Forrest7184136
Lauderdale6813226
Lowndes6017137
Lamar586880
Lafayette5721113
Washington5205130
Bolivar4604122
Oktibbeha440693
Panola428893
Pearl River4144129
Warren4124113
Pontotoc408469
Marshall401892
Monroe3982126
Union394974
Neshoba3782168
Lincoln3508100
Hancock343874
Leflore3367118
Sunflower317686
Tate301774
Pike299795
Scott293170
Alcorn291261
Itawamba289374
Yazoo287962
Coahoma277367
Tippah276765
Copiah276357
Simpson273878
Prentiss269558
Leake252271
Wayne252241
Marion251978
Covington248478
Grenada246677
Adams233877
George231245
Newton227552
Winston221475
Jasper212945
Tishomingo211965
Attala206269
Chickasaw200951
Holmes181770
Clay178550
Stone171929
Tallahatchie170439
Clarke169171
Calhoun157528
Smith152531
Yalobusha143737
Greene127433
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Montgomery121838
Perry121534
Lawrence119621
Carroll118124
Amite111232
Webster110230
Jefferson Davis101531
Tunica98923
Claiborne98129
Benton93324
Humphreys92527
Kemper89723
Quitman77114
Franklin75919
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62326
Jefferson62027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 492683

Reported Deaths: 9930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709061374
Mobile36044725
Madison32355455
Tuscaloosa24093410
Montgomery22536501
Shelby21892215
Baldwin19714283
Lee14950153
Morgan13641251
Calhoun13232286
Etowah13163319
Marshall11250209
Houston10073261
Elmore9371185
Limestone9353134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8813223
Lauderdale8594211
DeKalb8441175
Talladega7511163
Walker6514255
Jackson6487102
Autauga624891
Blount6095127
Colbert6000118
Coffee5238102
Dale4637107
Russell403930
Franklin398977
Covington3953106
Chilton3868100
Escambia377272
Tallapoosa3581142
Clarke343650
Chambers3406110
Dallas3401141
Pike293272
Lawrence282684
Marion281695
Winston246567
Bibb244960
Geneva239070
Marengo235355
Pickens224454
Barbour211351
Hale209468
Fayette200256
Butler195666
Henry182241
Cherokee176838
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156435
Crenshaw144354
Clay143854
Macon141743
Cleburne137339
Lamar132533
Lowndes130851
Wilcox121625
Bullock116736
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87532
Choctaw55023
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