The CDC is greatly exaggerating the risk of COVID-19 transmission outdoors, claiming there is a roughly 10 percent chance — when in reality the figure is less than 1 percent, a report said Tuesday.
The higher federal figure “seems to be a huge exaggeration,” Dr. Muge Cevik, a top infectious disease doctor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told the New York Times.
Dr. Aaron Richterman of the University of Pennsylvania added, “I’m sure it’s possible for transmission to occur outdoors in the right circumstances.
“But if we had to put a number on it, I would say much less than 1 percent.”
At issue is the research cited by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in touting its outdoor transmission statistic, which put the figure at a murky and allegedly too high “less than 10 percent.”
The figure is key because the agency has used it to justify its current coronavirus safety recommendations to the public, which include vaccinated people still wearing masks at “large public venues’’ and the unvaccinated using the face gear in most outdoor settings.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance on its website to say coronavirus can commonly spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols,” which are produced even when a person breathes.
“Airborne viruses, including COVID-19, are among the most contagious and easily spread,” the site now says.
Previously, the CDC page said that COVID-19 was thought to spread mainly between people in close contact — about 6 feet — and “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.”
The page, updated Friday, still says COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another, and now says the virus is 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.”
These particles can cause infection when “inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs,” it says. “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
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.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others, whenever possible. This is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Pandemics can be stressful. During times of increased physical distancing, it is still important to maintain social connections and care for your mental health.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others. Masks should not replace other prevention measures.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay home and isolate from others when sick.
- Use air purifiers to help reduce airborne germs in indoor spaces.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and others.
- Daily new cases of the coronavirus have been on a sustained decline since the end of July, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
- Deaths, which lag behind new cases as people fall ill, become hospitalized and die, have remained stubbornly high, at roughly 1,000 new Covid-19 deaths per day, on average, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.
- “I think we’re going to start to see a decline in mortality across the country now next week as we continue to get control of these cases,” Director of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield said Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Thursday that the frequency of several types of food poisoning infections climbed last year, but that the increases could be the result of new diagnostic tools that help identify more cases.
Overall, the agency believes food poisoning rates have remained largely unchanged
The agency attributed the high number of cases primarily to a few large outbreaks — one in the state of Washington and two others in New York City and New York state. The New York outbreaks are among the largest and longest lasting since 2000.
“The longer these outbreaks continue, the greater the chance measles will again get a sustained foothold in the United States,” the CDC said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, in a statement, said the rise in measles cases is “avoidable.”
“Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease,” he said. “We have the ability to safely protect our children and our communities. Vaccines are a safe, highly effective public health solution that can prevent this disease. The measles vaccines are among the most extensively studied medical products we have, and their safety has been firmly established over many years in some of the largest vaccine studies ever undertaken.”