CDC Claims COVID-19 can Spread through Virus Lingering in Air

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that COVID-19 can spread through viruses lingering and suspended in the air, sometimes for hours. CDC acknowledged the concerns widely raised by public health experts about the airborne transmission of the virus.

Risk of Airborne Transmission

The CDC guidance has surfaced weeks after the agency published, and then took down, a similar-looking warning, instigating debate over the ways virus spreads.

In Monday’s guidance, CDC stated that there was evidence that people with COVID-19 possibly infected others who were more than 6 feet away, within enclosed spaces with a lack of proper ventilation.

Under such state of affairs, the CDC stated that scientists believe the amount of infectious smaller droplets and particles, or aerosols, generated by the people infected with novel coronavirus become concentrated enough to transmit the virus.

For a long time, CDC has warned of transmission through small droplets that shoot through the air and generally fall to the ground, which resulted in the six-feet social distancing rule. However, aerosol droplets are still much smaller and can remain suspended in the air, similar to smoke.

While CDC emphasizes close-contact transmission is more common as compared to airborne transmission. On Monday, a group of U.S. scientists warned in an unrelated open letter published in the medical journal Science that aerosols suspended in the air could be a major source of COVID-19 transmission.

About Aerosols

“The reality is airborne transmission is the main way that transmission happens at close range with prolonged contact,” the researchers stated in a press call.

Viruses in aerosols can remain in the air for a period that can range from seconds to hours. It also can travel more than two meters and accumulate in poorly ventilated indoor air, resulting in super-spreading events, the researchers said.

Since people with COVID-19 generate thousands of virus-laden aerosols and far fewer droplets while breathing and talking, the scientists urged that the focus must be on safeguarding against airborne transmission.

They also stated that public health officials should clearly differentiate between droplets released by coughing or sneezing and aerosols that can carry the virus to longer distances.

Public health officials must acknowledge the importance of moving activities outdoors and improving indoor air, along with wearing a mask and social distancing, according to the letter.