Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Airborne Coronavirus: What You Should Do Now

How to protect yourself from a virus that may be floating indoors? Better ventilation, for starters. And keep wearing those masks.

Customers at the Goldengrove pub in east London on July 4th, as restrictions were further eased. Scientists are increasingly concerned about tiny viral particles that may linger in the air.Credit...Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Apoorva Mandavilli

The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests.

This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants.

It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech.

Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.

What is clear, they said, is that people should consider minimizing time indoors with people outside their families. Schools, nursing homes and businesses should consider adding powerful new air filters and ultraviolet lights that can kill airborne viruses.

Here are answers to a few questions raised by the latest research.  Read more >>