The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its coronavirus guidance once again, acknowledging information posted on its website last week about the risk of contracting COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces was confusing.
The CDC now says the coronavirus can “possibly” be spread on surfaces and objects, though the virus is mainly transmitted between people.
This is not the first time the nation’s premier public health agency has had to reverse course on information related to the coronavirus, including the agency’s evolving guidance on whether a mask should be worn in public.
The CDC has frequently been at odds with the White House over the response to the pandemic.
The CDC initially changed the information about transmission risk from surfaces last Wednesday, saying the novel coronavirus “does not spread easily” by “touching surfaces or objects.”
In March, the CDC warned “it may be possible” to spread the coronavirus on surfaces and objects. Two months later, the CDC updated its website advisory to classify surfaces as a medium by which the virus does not easily spread.
Heading into Memorial Day weekend, the CDC sent out a press release to clarify any misunderstanding, blaming edits on the website for a lack of clarity.
“After media reports appeared that suggested a change in CDC’s view on transmissibility, it became clear that these edits were confusing,” the press release published Friday read.
“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads,” the statement continued.
The CDC also notes COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus, is not easily transmitted between humans and animals.
The website warns people the virus can spread easily between people who are within 6 feet of each other through respiratory droplets from sneezing or talking.
The CDC also has made corrections or reversed previous guidance about other aspects of the pandemic.
In early April, the CDC suggested people wear cloth face masks when they go out in public, even if they are healthy. Several localities have now made it mandatory to wear a face covering when entering a business.
Previous guidance from the agency recommended that only health care workers and people who had the virus or were showing COVID-19 symptoms should wear masks, but healthy people didn’t need to under normal circumstances.
The CDC also initially botched its test kits, putting the U.S. behind on testing for the disease as early as February. The early tests were faulty and showed false negatives.