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CDC Makes 'Profound' Change on COVID, Then Backtracks

Agency says draft version on how virus spreads was posted in error
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2020 8:37 AM CDT
Updated Sep 21, 2020 11:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Late last week, the CDC quietly issued new guidance on how the coronavirus spreads, one considered by health experts to reflect a "profound shift" in thinking, per the Los Angeles Times. On Monday, however, the agency removed the update from its website and said it was a draft version that had been posted by mistake, reports the Washington Post. Among other things, the agency's Friday update declared that COVID-19 can spread through the air at distances of greater than 6 feet, adding that indoor ventilation could be a big help in keeping people safe. But those guidelines came down Monday, and a CDC official said "that does not reflect our current state of knowledge."

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The original update said COVID-19 is most commonly spread through small respiratory droplets called aerosols that may hang out in the air—not just via the larger droplets directly spewed like projectiles via coughing and sneezing into other people's noses and mouths. "This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads," the agency wrote. The guidance went on to note that these tiny particles are released "when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes," and that "there is growing evidence" that those particles can remain suspended in the air. The guidance also changed its directive on social distancing, from staying "about 6 feet" away from others to "at least 6 feet away." It's now back to "about 6 feet." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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