CDC clarifies COVID ‘airborne transmission’ guidance

Isabella Cicero, Reporter

This Monday, Oct. 5, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that people can sometimes become infected with the novel coronavirus through airborne transmission, especially in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation (Washington Post).

The CDC further clarified on its website that “The epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 indicates that most infections are spread through close contact, not airborne transmission.” (

Previously on Sept. 19, the CDC admitted to an error on its website and just this week made the clarification on its site.

The organization had posted a draft version accidentally to show ways that the virus could potentially spread on Sept. 18. In the draft, airborne travel was shown to be one of the main ways that the Coronavirus could spread person to person. The CDC has since clarified that while it is one of the ways, it is not the main spreader of the disease. CDC officials feared the original wording would cause confusion. 

The website now states, “Infections with respiratory viruses are principally transmitted through three modes: contact, droplet, and airborne.”

“These modes of transmission are not mutually exclusive. For instance, “close contact” refers to transmission that can happen by either contact or droplet transmission while a person is within about 6 feet of an infected person.”

Last month, Dr. Brunila Nazario (who is responsible for reviewing WebMD news and feature stories and graphics to ensure their medical accuracy) reviewed an article from WebMd which states that the Coronavirus can not spread in an airborne manner, but that we should take precautions as if it could. 

Nazario implied that people still need to be taking precautions including social distancing, use of masks, and washing of hands as would normally be expected.