White House shifts focus to air quality amid COVID-19

The White House has adjusted its COVID-19 prevention messaging to emphasize the role of indoor air quality, a move many experts say was long overdue, The Washington Post reported March 29.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a virtual discussion March 29 on the need to improve indoor air quality in schools, businesses and homes to reduce COVID-19 transmission. The discussion came six days after the office's head, Alondra Nelson, PhD, penned a blog post, acknowledging the virus is most commonly transmitted via tiny airborne particles that can travel long distances and remain in the air for hours. 

The CDC, World Health Organization and other health groups had initially maintained that the coronavirus primarily spread via large droplets that fell to the ground within a few feet of the person expelling them, according to the Post.

Scientists praised the White House's focus on air quality but expressed frustration with its timing. 

"We should have done it earlier," Linsey Marr, PhD, an airborne virus expert at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, told the publication. "But, as far as this effort led by the White House, it's better late than never." 

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