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Infectious Disease Infection Protection

Revised CDC Guidance On COVID-19 How Spreads

5 months ago

18144  0
Posted on May 22, 2020, 12 p.m.

The CDC has revised it’s website on how COVID-19 spreads, stating that it is thought to spread mainly through close person to person contact, those without symptoms may be able to spread the virus, it doesn't spread easily in other ways, and that we are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes.

The following is direct from the agency’s website:

"Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

The virus spreads easily between people

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious, like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, which means it goes from person-to-person without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people. Information from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic suggests that this virus is spreading more efficiently than influenza, but not as efficiently as measles, which is highly contagious.

The virus does not spread easily in other ways

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads. It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads.

  • From touching surfaces or objects. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.
  • From animals to people. At this time, the risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people is considered to be low. Learn about COVID-19 and pets and other animals.
  • From people to animals. It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. CDC is aware of a small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Learn what you should do if you have pets.

Protect yourself and others

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can take steps to slow the spread.

Learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and others.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19 illness. More information on Are you at higher risk for serious illness.

Know how it spreads, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus which is thought to spread mainly from person to person. 

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Everyone Should

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

Monitor Your Health

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
    • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop."

“Direct contact with people has the highest likelihood of getting infected — being close to an infected person, rather than accepting a newspaper or a FedEx guy dropping off a box,” said virologist Vincent Munster, a researcher in the virus ecology section at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases facility in Hamilton, Mont.

In laboratory settings Munster and colleagues have demonstrated that this virus can potentially remain viable on cardboard for up to 24 hours and for up to 3 days on plastic and metal surfaces, but it will typically degrade within hours of being outside a host. 

“A persistent problem in this pandemic has been lack of clear messaging from governmental leadership, and this is another unfortunate example of that trend,” said Angela L. Rasmussen, a virologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “It could even have a detrimental effect on hand hygiene and encourage complacency about physical distancing or other measures.”

Rasmussen said the new CDC language will not alter her habits. “I wash my hands after handling packages and wipe down shared surfaces with household disinfectant,” she said. “In my opinion, that’s all that is necessary to reduce risk.”

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said the revisions were the product of an internal review and “usability testing.” “Our transmission language has not changed,” Nordlund said. “Covid-19 spreads mainly through close contact from person to person.” 

The previous version archived on the website does include the same statement about surfaces as the current version: “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.”

For anyone who still wants to wipe down plastics and packaging with disinfectants if it makes you feel better, there is no harm in doing that. Just be sure to wash your hands afterwards to get the chemicals from off your skin and please do not wipe down food with these disinfectants. 

In summary to clear it up, yes but no, but maybe....

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