Answering questions about COVID-19

Do you have a question about the novel coronavirus? Email it to Assistant Editor Matthew Hensley at

Did the CDC change how it says COVID-19 spread?


Despite some recent news reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not revise how the virus spreads; instead, an edit to a webpage on the federal health agency’s website led to confusion.

Here is the CDC’s explanation for what happened: “CDC actively reviews our website to make sure the content is accessible and clear for all types of audiences. As a result of one such review, edits were made to the organization of the COVID-19 transmission page, including adding a headline in an attempt to clarify other types of spread beyond person to person. This change was intended to make it easier to read, and was not a result of any new science.”

The CDC has again revised the page to make it more clear. You can read the latest wording here:

“The primary and most important mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through close contact from person-to-person,” the agency said. “Based on data from lab studies on COVID-19 and what we know about similar respiratory diseases, 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 own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”