The CDC removed language on Monday it had posted on its website, removing language about airborne transmission it had posted just days earlier.
In language posted on Friday and now removed, the CDC said that COVID-19 was most commonly spread through close contact, but went on to say that it’s known to spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes.” The particles can be infectious when inhaled through the mouth and nose into the airways and lungs. The website on Friday said, “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
The website also introduced new measures of protection and included recommendations to use air purifiers in indoor spaces, and to maintain 6 feet of distance between others when possible.
“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),” the page said in the Friday update, which has since been removed. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”
The guidelines were removed this morning because “that does not reflect our current state of knowledge,” according to a top CDC official.
The website had other updates changed as well. About asymptomatic transmission, the CDC had shifted from saying “some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus” to saying “people who are infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others.” That language has now been removed.
Also on Friday, the CDC updated its testing guidance to stress that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for coronavirus. A controversial earlier update was not written by CDC scientists and posted online before it had undergone the normal scientific review process.
The Department of Health and Human Services has been accused of changing the language of reports to align with Trump’s political message, but CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said last week “at no time has the scientific integrity” of these reports been compromised.