Experts push CDC, White House to address COVID-19 aerosol spread

Feb. 19, 2021

A group of U.S. experts in medicine, public health, and industrial health, penned a letter to White House officials and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking them to fully address the inhalation, or airborne, nature of COVID-19 transmission and provide frontline workers with appropriate respirators and ventilation strategies to cut the infection risk, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

The group said the United States must follow Germany, Austria, and France – countries that recently mandated respiratory protection equivalent to N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and higher-quality filtration systems for all workers in public.

Government officials must fully recognize inhalation exposure as a major way COVID-19 spreads and take immediate action to control and limit this exposure, the group said during a press conference.

Choir practices, restaurant exposures, and even 3- to 5-minute conversations between masked people are examples of documented airborne transmission. Inhalation transmission may partly explain the inequity of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

But despite the overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 is spread through small aerosols, the CDC has upheld an early definition of COVID-19 exposure, one that emphasizes large droplets and contaminated surfaces.

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