Virus has limited potential for airborne spread

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ATLANTA — On Oct. 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance to its “How COVID-19 Spreads” website, which includes information about the potential for airborne spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19.

The Oct. 5 update acknowledges the existence of some published reports showing limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area. In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise. Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles.

CDC’s recommendations remain the same based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance.

People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick.

COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact:
• People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.
• When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk or breathe, they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.
• Infections occur mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
• Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
• As the respiratory droplets travel further from the person with COVID-19, the concentration of these droplets decreases. Larger droplets fall out of the air due to gravity. Smaller droplets and particles spread apart in the air.
• With passing time, the amount of infectious virus in respiratory droplets also decreases.

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