The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just backtracked in a big way as they updated their coronavirus guidelines to say that the disease “does not spread easily” on contaminated surfaces.

It was already known that the disease was easily spread through in-person contact, but until now, the CDC swore up and down that COVID-19 could be spread through touching contaminated surfaces. However, the CDC has changed their tune, saying that “the virus spreads easily between people” but “does not spread easily in other ways.”

“It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads,” the second section of the CDC’s updated guidelines reads. Prior to this change, the guidelines had said that coronavirus being spread in other ways “may be possible,” according to Yahoo News.

This change may be subtle, but it is also important to note it. Theories about coronavirus being spread through touching contaminated surfaces can be traced back to a New England Journal of Medicine study that was conducted back in March. This study concluded that COVID-19 could survive in the air for hours and on certain surfaces for days, as it was detected up to four hours later on copper, up to one day later on cardboard, and up to three days later on plastic and stainless steel.

It should be noted that the study never found that people who touched those surfaces could become infected, yet the CDC took that and ran with it anyway. The CDC finally updated their guidelines after epidemiological data found that the most likely way to transmit the virus is through in-person contact. “Based on the epidemiology, we know that the main way this virus is infecting people is from direct contact with other infected people,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “Contaminated surfaces play some role, but it’s likely much smaller.”

“This is a respiratory virus, and respiratory viruses largely spread through breathing in infected respiratory droplets,” he continued.

Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician at Northeast Ohio Medical University, pointed out that “we are still learning about this new coronavirus — including how it spreads.”

“It might be possible to become infected after touching a surface that has the virus, then touching one’s face,” Watkins added. “That is why handwashing and avoiding touching one’s face are important. However, this isn’t the main way the virus is spread.”