I’ve blogged before about this: the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S.–supposedly the best source in the world concerning diseases–sometimes doesn’t communicate very effectively. A recent example is that last month the CDC stated that “less than 10 percent” of people who have contracted COVID-19 got it while outdoors. But that could mean any number less than 10 percent, which is quite inexact. Although it is difficult to make such a measurement, authorities have been saying for quite some time that outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is very rare, closer to one percent or less.
This is important to me because of what I said in my book, Moses Predicted COVID-19 (pp. 94-95), published back on July 1, 2020. In this book I compare the supposed low rate of outdoor contraction of COVID-19, due to being in sunlight, to Moses’ instructions for a person to separate outdoors from the community for the remainder of the day when exposed to the carcass of an “unclean” animal. I suggest in the book that Moses’ food laws correlate with pandemics/epidemics associated with zoonosis–the transmission of a virus from an animal to a human.
David Leonhardt of The New York Times reports today that Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist at St. Andrews University, says that CDC statistic “seems to be a huge exaggeration.” He means the figure is much smaller than that.
One study (by David E. Epperly, et. al) showed that “94% of COVID-19 superspreading events occurred in limited ventilation areas suggesting aerosolized transmission is a strong contributor to COVID-19 infections.” Leonhardt further says some authorities believe it is below 0.1 percent, thus less than one tenth of one percent.
This Times article further states, “There is not a single documented Covid infection anywhere in the world from casual outdoor interactions, such as walking past someone on a street or eating at a nearby table.” Thus, it is only outdoor events wherein many people are gathered together at close range that people are at risk for contracting COVID-19. Yet the CDC still recommends wearing a mask outdoors no matter what the circumstances.
When the CDC was asked about this 10 percent number, it replied that there is little data from studies about outdoor transmission. Thus, their number of 10 percent seems like quite a guess or just not very accurate. This CDC statement concludes, “It is important for people and communities to consider their own situations and risks and to take appropriate steps to protect their health.” Pretty general information, but true.
Leonhardt concludes his Times article by saying, “the scientific evidence points to a conclusion that is much simpler than the C.D.C.’s message: Masks make a huge difference indoors and rarely matter outdoors.” I think this is right. All during this pandemic, I’ve been wearing a mask indoors all the time when I’m away from home, but hardly ever outdoors.