The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now acknowledged on its website that COVID-19 can be spread by airborne transmission. In an update Monday to the website detailing how the virus can be transmitted, the CDC now says droplets can remain in the air for hours.
"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 CDC website says.
"This kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread."
While the CDC still maintains that the primary way COVID-19 is spread is through close contact with someone who is already infected, airborne transmission can infect people who are more than six feet away from an infected person while in an enclosed area without adequate ventilation. Sometimes these cases have been caused when the infected person was breathing more heavily, as when exercising or singing.
According to the Washington Post, the guidance had previously been pulled by the CDC after it posted a draft version of those airborne transmission guidelines in error.
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