On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance regarding how easily the coronavirus can spread through the air.
“It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes,” the agency wrote.
What that meant, the CDC said, is that six feet is not enough: “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). In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”
The CDC encouraged people to continue washing their hands, wearing masks, but added that it may be prudent to use air purifiers to help reduce airborne germs in indoor spaces.
But on Tuesday, the agency posted an alert on the same page admitting that the new guidance was “posted in error.”
“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website,” the message reads. “CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted.”
NEW: Earlier today the CDC updated its website to say “There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others.”
Now the CDC says this “draft” update was published in error. https://t.co/YXhCVG47ri pic.twitter.com/hB3kocplIo
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) September 21, 2020
The page has now been reverted to its previous guidelines, stating that COVID-19 is spread between people who are within six feet of each other via droplets propelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
As several social media observers have noted, the new message from the CDC states that the new guidelines were printed in error, not that it was an error in itself.