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Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

CDC Removes New Coronavirus Guidelines Just Days After Posting Them

New U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website guidelines suggesting that the new coronavirus can be transmitted by tiny droplets over a distance greater than six feet and that indoor ventilation is crucial to prevent its spread were removed from the agency's website late Monday morning.

The updated guidelines were posted Friday but removed Monday because they were a website error and don't "reflect our current state of knowledge," according to a top CDC official, the Washington Post reported.

The now-deleted guidelines matched what many scientists and independent public health experts have long been saying -- that the new coronavirus is airborne and transmitted through tiny droplets (aerosols) that hang in the air much longer than larger droplets produced by coughing or sneezing.

"These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection," the now-deleted guidance said. "This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

Previously, the agency said the virus mainly spreads through large droplets that spread up to six feet, the Post reported.

"There is growing evidence that (small) droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes)," the agency said in the deleted guidelines. "In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk."

The CDC didn't suggest any new action to reduce the threat of airborne transmission of the new coronavirus, but experts said the deleted guidelines might have led to public behavior and policy changes.

That was "a major change" for the CDC, Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies how aerosols spread the virus, told the Post after the agency instituted the now-deleted guideline on Friday.

"This is a good thing," Jimenez said at the time, "if we can reduce transmission because more people understand how it is spreading and know what to do to stop it."

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