On Monday, September 21, the CDC took back some of its previous guidance on coronavirus, and it was….well, a bit confusing. Even the World Health (WHO) was confused.
In its own words, the CDC said that it “erroneously posted guidance saying the coronavirus spreads through airborne particles that can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond 6 feet.” What does this mean? That the guidance is still correct but the CDC didn’t mean to post it? Or that the CDC believes coronavirus does not spread through airborne particles? That it cannot travel beyond six feet? Or that it can’t be spread by particles that do not remain suspended? The agency did not exactly say that either.
For months, the CDC has said that “the virus mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or talks.” Well, yes. And wouldn’t coughing and sneezing send these droplets airborne? That would only be logical, and other experts concur. WebMD says that a virus is considered to be “airborne” if you can catch it from inhaling aerosols from the air—particles of spit and mucus emitted when talking, sneezing, coughing, or even laughing. Yet in July, the WHO said there was still no “definitive” evidence that indicates the virus is spreading widely by air.
The CDC further muddied understanding by also recommending that people use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs indoors to prevent the disease from spreading. But wait. If they believe it doesn’t travel through airborne particles and can’t travel beyond six feet, why are air purifiers suddenly needed?
We suggest that our customers continue to err on the side of safety until the guidance is clarified. Fortunately, the CDC is on it—“CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted.”