John Bacon, USA TODAY
Published 1:39 p.m. ET Sept. 21, 2020 | Updated 2:30 p.m. ET Sept. 21, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logged 1,600 COVID-19 investigations on commercial aircraft between January and August.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which quietly changed its guidance on coronavirus transmission through the air Friday, reversed field again Monday.
On Friday, the CDC posted an update on its website saying six feet may not be sufficient to keep people safe and that ventilation was key to easing transmission indoors. That determination could be crucial for schools where desks are now set up six feet apart. Offices, restaurants and even church services also could be affected by the change.
“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),” the agency said. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”
On Monday, the website switched back to the previous information.
“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website,” a note on the CDC website said. “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.”
The previous guidance, now back on the site, says the spread is primarily between people who are in close contact with one another – within about 6 feet – through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Scientists have warned for months that the virus could be spread through tiny aerosols that spread farther and hang in the air longer than previously believed. The World Health Organization, lobbied by hundreds of scientists, made the acknowledgement two months ago.
The CDC’s guidance did not change until Friday but quickly reversed back Monday.
“It’s a major change,” Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told The Washington Post before the CDC withdrew the guidance. “This is a good thing, if we can reduce transmission because more people understand how it is spreading and know what to do to stop it.”
More than 6 millions Americans have been infected by the virus. The U.S. death toll stands on the brink of 200,000.
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