To say the global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and challenging to navigate is an understatement.
While there have been dangerous pandemics in the past, none have been so widespread or so well documented.
The internet and social media have allowed information—and misinformation—about SARS-CoV-2 to spread even faster than the virus itself.
Now, nearly a year into the pandemic, we are much more informed about the risks associated with the virus and how it is transmitted.As more research has been conducted and more data gathered, we can better understand how COVID-19 spreads and take measures to prevent infecting ourselves or others.
Over time, the scientific understanding of the virus has shifted and so have official recommendations about how to take precautions. Here is what we know now:
- Surface transmission isn’t a major culprit. While it is possible that COVID-19 can be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, this is not the main way the virus spreads. Precautions should still be taken by cleaning surfaces and maintaining proper hygiene, as a best practice.
- Social distancing and masks are two of the best preventive measures. We now know that the virus is most likely to spread through large respiratory droplets emitted by an infected person coughing, sneezing, talking, or breathing in close proximity to another person. Because of this, high-quality masks and social distancing are two effective ways to reduce transmission.
- Airborne transmission is a factor. In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially acknowledged the role that airborne transmission plays in the spread of COVID-19. According to the CDC, there have been instances of a person with COVID-19 infecting others who were more than 6 feet away.
- People with mild systems are not contagious after 10 days. The CDC recently updated their website to report that individuals with mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms are no longer infectious 10 days from when their symptoms began.
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