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  1. From an article in the New York Times, it appears virus transmission is much easier than first accepted: A few sentences have shaken a century of science. A week ago, more than a year after the World Health Organization declared that we face a pandemic, a page on its website titled “Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19): How Is It Transmitted?” got a seemingly small update. The agency’s response to that question had been that “current evidence suggests that the main way the virus spreads is by respiratory droplets” — which are expelled from the mouth and quickly fall to the ground — “among people who are in close contact with each other.” The revised response still emphasizes transmission in close contact but now says it may be via aerosols — smaller respiratory particles that can float — as well as droplets. It also adds a reason the virus can also be transmitted “in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings,” saying this is because “aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 meter.” The change didn’t get a lot of attention. There was no news conference, no big announcement. Then, on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also updated its guidance on Covid-19, clearly saying that inhalation of these smaller particles is a key way the virus is transmitted, even at close range, and put it on top of its list of how the disease spreads. To see this misunderstanding in action, look at what’s still happening throughout the world. In India, where hospitals have run out of supplemental oxygen and people are dying in the streets, money is being spent on fleets of drones to spray anti-coronavirus disinfectant in outdoor spaces. Parks, beaches and outdoor areas keep getting closed around the world. This year and last, organizers canceled outdoor events for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. Cambodian customs officials advised spraying disinfectant outside vehicles imported from India. The examples are many. Meanwhile, many countries allowed their indoor workplaces to open but with inadequate aerosol protections. There was no attention to ventilation, installing air filters as necessary or even opening windows when possible, more to having people just distancing three or six feet, sometimes not requiring masks beyond that distance, or spending money on hard plastic barriers, which may be useless at best. (Just this week, President Biden visited a school where students were sitting behind plastic shields.) This occurred throughout the world in the past year. The United States has been a bit better, but the C.D.C. did not really accept aerosol transmission until October, though still relegating it to a secondary role until its change on Friday, which put the risk infection from inhaling these tiny particles first on its list of means of transmission. The scientific wrangling, resistance and controversy that prevented a change in guidance stem from a century of mistaken assumptions whose roots go back to the origins of germ theory of disease in the 19th century. ==================================================================================================================================================== I am so glad to be living in an era where Official health agencies update their recommendations within a century of what unofficial, common sense sources have been pointing out since the days of Ignaz Semmelweis. ps-if the NYT article is hidden behind a subscription wall, simply copy/paste the url in an incognito tab.
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