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CDC acknowledges that COVID-19 can spread through the air

The CDC updated its guidance on Monday to include aerosols as a route of transmission for COVID-19. Here's what you need to know. (Getty Images)
The CDC updated its guidance on Monday to include aerosols as a route of transmission for COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know. (Getty Images)

Two weeks after removing language that acknowledged COVID-19 spreading through aerosols, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially added a new section to its website Monday declaring that “COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.”

The update reads: “Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.”

The organization reaffirmed that the main route of transmission remains respiratory droplets, which are released through things like coughing and sneezing. These droplets, which are often larger in size, spread the virus through contact with a mucous membrane, such as the eyes or nose. Aerosols, which are smaller, can linger in the air for hours and can spread through inhalation alone.

Although more research is needed to determine exactly how prevalent airborne transmission is, the CDC now acknowledges that it can occur. “There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away,” the CDC writes. “These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example, while singing or exercising.”

Multiple outbreaks have been reported from choir practices, including one in Washington in early March that led to 53 COVID-19 infections and two deaths. The CDC elaborates on what may be happening at these events. “Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people,” the CDC writes. “The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.”

On Twitter, both epidemiologists and aerobiologists, who have at times disagreed on the issue, praised the CDC’s guidance. Dr. Kimberly Prather, director for the NSF Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment (CAICE) at the University of California, San Diego, tweeted that she was “feeling hopeful” in the wake of the CDC update, along with a newly published paper in Science urging the medical world to “harmonize discussions about modes of virus transmission”

Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention specialist at George Mason University, tweeted that the document is “important” and that it “sheds light on situational airborne (aerosol) spread, close contact as a driving factor, & prevention strategies.” She added that the new information “doesn’t change the recommendations” but “rather reinforces what we’ve been saying — mask, distance, avoid crowded indoor spaces, adequate ventilation, hand hygiene, and cleaning/disinfection.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security,

White House acknowledges Trump’s condition had been worse than revealed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows revealed that President Donald Trump’s condition on Friday was far worse than officials had made public, saying doctors recommended the president go to the hospital after seeing he had a fever and his blood oxygen level dropped rapidly.

a man wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump's health after he was tested positive for COVID19

© Reuters/KEN CEDENO
FILE PHOTO: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump’s health after he was tested positive for COVID19

Meadows made the comments in an interview with Fox News broadcast Saturday night that capped two days of conflicting and opaque assessments of the 74-year-old president’s health.

“I can tell you this the biggest thing we see is with no fever now, and with him doing really well with his oxygen saturation levels,” Meadows told Fox host Jeanine Pirro. “Yesterday morning we were really concerned by that. He had a fever, and his oxygen level had dropped rapidly. Yet in typical style, this president was up and walking around.”

White House officials including Meadows said on Friday that Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms” and continuing to work. He told Fox News however, that doctors from Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins recommended that Trump go to the hospital.

“He’s made unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning when I know a number of us, the doctor and I, were very concerned,” Meadows said.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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