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CDC reverses new guidelines again on indoor COVID-19 spread

CDC reverses new guidelines again on indoor COVID-19 spread
Customers have lunch at El Toro Mexican restaurant in Clute, Texas, as an employee works while wearing a mask and gloves in May. Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials continued to modify the agency's guidelines on COVID-19 Monday, this time pulling down a days-old change suggesting that the virus can spread from person to person among those greater than 6 feet apart, particularly indoors.

The agency's guidance has long said that respiratory droplets, emitted from the nose and mouth of an infected person, "are the main way the virus spreads."

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But an update posted Friday said these microscopic particles could travel distances greater than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, like "restaurants and fitness classes."

That language, however, was removed late Monday morning.

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A top CDC official told the Washington Post that the information "does not reflect our current state of knowledge."

"A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website," the CDC said in a statement posted on the guidelines home page.

"CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of [COVID-19 and] once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted," it said.

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Given that, the CDC and others have been recommending that people wear face coverings -- particularly when social distancing is challenging -- to prevent spread of the disease.

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This is due, at least in part, to research that suggests the new coronavirus spreads more efficiently than the flu, and that infected people can pass it to others by talking or even singing, particularly indoors.

Although more than 200 scientists petitioned the World Health Organization in July to change its guidelines on virus transmission to indicate that there is "a risk of airborne infection beyond three to 6.5 feet from the infected person, particularly indoors," the international agency's guidelines only say that such transmission "cannot be ruled out."

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