WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A CDC report that thoroughly discusses how the COVID-19 virus is spread through aerosolized particles was posted on their website then taken down, generating widespread confusion among public health experts.
- The CDC said the virus seemed to linger in the air and spread at a distance of more than 6 feet.
- CDC officials however said that the revisions were a result of the report not having undergone extensive review and approval.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was posted on their website then withdrawn afterward has created confusion among public health circles because of its implications.
According to the post, the agency cited mounting evidence that the coronavirus can remain in the air in the form of aerosolized particles that can spread over a wider area.
Reports of certain case clusters have been linked to events like a choir practice for instance, where the virus appeared to have been transmitted through the air, although such incidents are not common. At the same time, the post also suggested that heavier droplets from coughing or sneezing are the major means of transmission.
CDC guidelines on social distancing are mostly designed around that idea, with the agency requiring a distance of 6 feet between people who are not wearing masks. Public health experts also encourage people to wear masks to lessen contact with aerosolized particles.
But because the CDC said little about aerosolized droplets for months, the report on Friday that gave an in-depth discussion about the particles seemed to suggest that their stance toward virus transmission has changed. The latest post highlighted the need for indoor ventilation describing the virus as the type that can stay in the air and spread to as far as 6 feet.
However, Dr. Jay Butler, the agency’s deputy director for infectious diseases, says their position remains unchanged and that the report was an “honest mistake” that was posted without going through a full editing and approval.
The CDC said in a statement on Monday that corrections to the “How COVID-19 Spreads” page occurred without “appropriate in-house technical review” and that the agency is reviewing and tightening measures for all updates before they are posted to the CDC website.
The posting generated widespread discussion among public health experts who think that hospitals have to change room assignments for infected people to prevent air from drifting to other parts of the hospital.
But Butler said the agency is not implying that changes need to be made on how people are housed at hospitals.
The CDC has been criticized for releasing varying guidelines during the pandemic, some of which were prompted by political pressures from the Trump campaign.
However, Butler said no political pressure was behind the revisions rather it was an internal issue that the agency is working on to make sure it doesn’t happen again.