After reversing guidance about transmission of the coronavirus two weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention re-released them this week.
In summary, the new guidelines say the coronavirus can linger in the air longer than we initially thought, and that standing six feet apart may not be good enough.
The CDC says it’s possible for the virus to be airborne for minutes, possibly hours if it’s pulled in by an AC or heating system, and then blown back into a room.
North Dakota’s Chief Health Strategist Dr. Joshua Wynne is also the Dean of UND’s School of Medicine. He says the university is already implementing enhanced air filtration, thanks to CARES Act dollars.
This is something that’s been in the works long before these new guidelines were released.
Dr. Wynne says while it’s possible to be infected standing far away from someone indoors, most cases are still spread by being within six feet of someone who’s infected.
“Do I think someone in the far corner of the building is at increased risk if someone in the building has COVID? Yes. Do I think the risk is anywhere near as great as if I’m shouting in your face from six inches apart? No,” he explained.
He adds exact precautions for airborne transmission have not been established because the scientific data isn’t available yet for what works.
He says the air filtration is worth trying, but it won’t replace things we know work like masks and extra handwashing.