In the latest coronavirus news, the US CDC causes a stir by abruptly changing its airborne COVID-19 transmission guidelines. Keep reading to stay up to date on COVID-19.
In This Article:
- COVID-19 Transmission
- Confusion with CDC Guideline Changes
- Evidence of Airborne Transmission
- CDC Mistrust
- Infection Prevention Tips
Coronavirus News: Is COVID-19 Airborne or Not?
Experts agree that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets. These droplets are more easily spread between people who are less than six feet away from one another.
A few months ago, health officials from around the world debated about aerosol or airborne transmission of COVID-19.
What is aerosol or airborne transmission? This occurs when viruses or bacteria can remain infectious while suspended in the air for long distances and extended periods.
In July, over 200 scientists from 32 countries published an open letter about the airborne transmission of COVID-19. In the letter, the scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health organizations to include aerosol transmission findings in their publications and recommendations.
Since then, the WHO has acknowledged the emerging evidence regarding airborne transmission. Until recently, though, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not include COVID-19 aerosol transmissions on their website or their infection prevention recommendations.
Confusion with CDC Guideline Changes
On September 18, news outlets began reporting about striking changes in the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. They updated their COVID-19 pages to include aerosol transmissions.
Here are some of the new details added to their coronavirus pages:
- Aerosols may contain infected respiratory droplets.
- The virus spreads by inhaling particles through the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs.
- There is growing evidence of droplets and airborne particles remaining in the air beyond six feet.
- Examples of contexts where airborne particles may travel (ex. restaurants and fitness classes).
- Increased risk of transmission indoors, especially in the absence of adequate ventilation.
- New infection prevention tips. They recommended the use of air purifiers and a stricter observance of social distancing measures.
Apart from these new additions, they also rephrased certain statements. For instance, they reworded sentences on asymptomatic transmission.
By September 21, the CDC removed these new additions. They reverted to its previous guidelines.
According to the CDC, someone posted the changes by accident. On top of that, CDC experts did not have a chance to review the changes before they were unintentionally published. While the CDC acknowledges that the guidelines are being revised, they did not give a timeline for the updated guidelines.
Evidence of Airborne Transmission
The WHO acknowledges that there are various modes of COVID-19 transmissions. They believe that COVID-19 usually spreads through larger droplets. On top of that, certain conditions allow for smaller droplets to spread coronavirus.
These conditions are usually described as:
- small spaces
- enclosed areas
- areas without proper ventilation
In these spaces, smaller droplets can then become airborne. This increases the risk of aerosol transmission. Experts believe that it is essential to consider these factors when assessing the risk of infection.
The WHO and CDC acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation. The WHO and CDC will ideally adjust their recommendations when there is new information.
This is not the first time the CDC had abrupt and confusing COVID-19 guideline changes. At the beginning of the pandemic, health authorities discouraged Americans from wearing masks.
A few weeks ago, the CDC revised its testing guidelines for close contacts. On August 24, the new testing guidelines stated that testing is not always necessary for close contacts without symptoms.
These testing guidelines were updated again on Friday, September 18. Now it states that anyone who has been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients should be tested for the virus.
With the elections around the corner, some individuals believe that these abrupt changes may be due to political pressure. Regardless of the reason, these sudden changes and retractions may confuse people and foster mistrust against the CDC.
Studies show that distrust of healthcare systems can lead to poorer health outcomes. With over 6.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 199,000 deaths, the United States has already had its share of poor health outcomes.
Infection Prevention Tips
As you wait for the CDC’s updated guidelines, it is important to continue maintaining infection prevention measures. These measures include:
- Washing your hands regularly.
- Avoiding close contact with people you do not live with. Try to stay 6 feet away from them.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Using a mask when you are in public. The mask should cover your mouth and nose.
- Covering your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue or your inner elbow.
- Disinfecting your home regularly. This is especially important for high-touch objects.
- Monitoring your health. Watch out for any COVID-19 symptoms.
If you start developing COVID-19 symptoms, it is important to stay home and isolate unless you need medical care. If your symptoms are mild and manageable, you can connect with a doctor via telemedicine services like StreamMD. Through telemedicine services, you can get screened for COVID-19 without leaving your home.
Note: It is critical to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any emergency warning signs. These signs may include trouble breathing, persistent chest pains/pressure, confusion, difficulty staying awake, and facial discoloration.
Do you think it is possible to spread COVID-19 through aerosols? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
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