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CDC Director Robert Redfield. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

The CDC has removed new guidance that acknowledged airborne transmission of the coronavirus, posting in a note on its website that the guidance was only a draft and had been published in error.

Why it matters: The initial update — which was little noticed until a CNN story was published Sunday — had come months after scientists pushed for the agency to acknowledge the disease was transmissible through the air. The CDC previously said that close person-to-person contact was the bigger concern, and the language has been changed back to erase the warning about airborne transmission.

What they're saying: "A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted," the website now states.

  • The draft guidance that had posted said airborne transmission is now thought to be the "main way the virus spreads," adding that proper air ventilation is important.
  • "There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond six feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes). In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk," the agency had written.

Worth noting: The CDC also recently updated its guidance around testing for asymptomatic people after stating in August, against the recommendation of scientists, that asymptomatic people do not need to be tested.

The big picture: A slew of recent reporting suggests deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response, per Axios' Caitlin Owens.

Editors note: This story has been updated to reflect that the CDC removed new guidance around airborne transmission from its website.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Biden to get booster shot on camera — Pfizer vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The booster vaccine discussion is far from over.
  2. Health: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years — U.S. death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities — Chicago has highest case rates in city worker neighborhoods.
  3. Politics: Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home — Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive — Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers.
  4. Education: D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Dec 30, 2020 - World

U.K. first nation to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a vial of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine at Wockhardt's pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in November in Wrexham, Wales. Photo: Paul Ellis/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University was approved for use in the United Kingdom on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The U.K. is the first country to authorize this coronavirus vaccine that's cheaper and easier to store than others. It's less than three weeks since British regulators became the first in the West to give emergency approval for a COVID-19 vaccine — Pfizer-BioNTech's.

Updated Dec 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Newly elected Louisiana GOP Rep. Luke Letlow, 41, dies from coronavirus

The late Louisiana Republican Rep. Luke Letlow. Photo: Luke Letlow/Facebook

Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.) died in a Louisiana hospital intensive care unit on Tuesday night "due to complications from COVID-19," his spokesperson Andrew Bautsch confirmed. He was 41.

The big picture: Letlow was due to be sworn into Congress this Sunday. He announced on Dec. 18 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to the Ochsner LSU Health ICU in Shreveport on Dec. 23.