The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now say that COVID-19 can be in the air under certain circumstances. In a new update, the CDC says the coronavirus is most likely to spread through airborne droplets, including larger and smaller aerosolized respiratory droplets that contain the virus.
Previously, the CDC stated that droplet transmission was the main mode of transmission for COVID-19. But it focused on larger respiratory droplets expelled when someone with the infection speaks, screams, sneezes, or coughs. Another person can then inhale these larger droplets and get sick. Or the droplets could land in a person’s mouth, nose, or eyes, infecting them that way. However, unlike aerosolized particles, large respiratory droplets generally fall to the ground quickly.
Then, in September, the CDC updated its guidelines to include the airborne broadcast only to revert to the previous version, saying the new information was “published in error,”
The big update now is that this version of the CDC intelligence recognizes the potential for COVID-19 airborne transmission. This type of transmission occurs when breath droplets containing the virus are small and light enough to linger in the air for a while or even reach people farther than a meter away, SELF previously explained. However, as the CDC mentions, this type of transmission is still rare and mostly occurs indoors, where normal (larger) droplet transmission is most likely.
“There is evidence that, under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than three feet away. These transmissions took place in closed rooms with insufficient ventilation. Sometimes the infected person breathed heavily, for example when singing or exercising, ”says the CDC. “Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious diseases is less [droplets] and particles produced by people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The infected people were in the same room at the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 left. “
Since COVID-19 may be airborne, it is extremely important that there is adequate ventilation in indoor spaces where the virus is more likely to spread this way. It’s also important to stick to outdoor activities (where ventilation isn’t that important) rather than indoor activities. This is especially true of heavy breathing activities like singing or exercising, which can push these droplets even further.
Wearing a mask is another important public health strategy that we know can reduce the spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. However, particles in the air are smaller and may not be as easy to block off with the types of cloth masks most of us have at home. Because of this, it is important for people like those who need to spend more time indoors with others they do not live with and those who work in the medical field to wear appropriate N95 masks or surgical masks who are better equipped are to prevent this type of virus transmission. For most of us, however, cloth masks are fine – as long as they have more than one layer of protection and are tight around the face.
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (whether through larger or smaller droplets) is to avoid prolonged contact with other people who may be suffering from the virus – especially in small, enclosed indoor spaces. Instead, make sure to stay socially aloof (remember, it takes at least six feet!), Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and stick to outdoor activities with as few people as possible.