Covid-19: Opening Up Safely and SmartlyJune 1, 2020 4:02 pm
Covid-19: Opening Up Safely and Smartly
- It takes breathing in 1,000 virus particles to get sick. Five minutes of talking to someone indoors is enough to cause an infection. Masks reduce this risk.
- Sneezing and coughing releases a lot of virus particles. One sneeze or a cough is enough to get someone sick. Stay home if you’re sick and get tested.
- Indoor airflows can possibly transmit viruses. If you’re sick, don’t go to work or to a public place. Social distancing is important. Wear a mask unless you’re eating.
- Avoid crowded places.
- Outdoor interactions other than being sneezed upon or coughed upon likely will not cause an infection, so it’s okay to go running or biking without a mask.
- Be careful of frequently touched objects like door knobs. Hand-sanitize and wash hands often.
With the lifting or easing of some lockdown measures and other pandemic suppression efforts, we will begin to open our communities back up, return to work and restart the routines of our lives, as different as they may be. After weeks of quarantine, many of us are left wondering the same thing: How do I go about my daily life in a way that ensures my safety as well as that of those around me? On the whole, this pandemic has introduced an abundance of questions.
A recent, much-heralded study from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth biologist Dr. Erin Bromage takes on some of these most popular questions and lays out explanations—and evidence for found conclusions—in very clear and easily digestible terms. Dr. Bromage began studying the virus with the outbreak in China at the beginning of the year, and the conclusions drawn from the research he’s collected with his class offers valuable insight on how we might be able to safely move forward into summer.
In his now-viral blog post addressing how this new coronavirus is spread, Dr. Bromage addresses the possibility of infection with a simple equation: successful infection = exposure to virus + time. With this formula, we have a way of estimating the probability of an individual becoming infected, helping us answer popular questions like: where are people getting sick; how much virus is released into the environment and what level of viral presence is required for transmission; what is the role of asymptomatic people in spreading the virus; is it safer to gather outdoors than inside?
How much exposure is too much?
Research based on MERS and SARS outbreaks (other coronaviruses) shows that it takes as few as 1,000 SARS-CoV2 viral particles to infect someone with coronavirus. With that in mind, consider the following:
- Speaking can increase the release of respiratory droplets by a factor of ten from simply breathing, releasing around 200 particles into the air every minute.
- A cough releases about 3,000 droplets, traveling up to 50 miles per hour.
- A sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets, traveling nearly 200 miles per hour.
With these numbers in mind, the team concluded it would take about five minutes of speaking with someone face-to-face to be exposed to the required dose of particles to become infected. A sneeze or cough from an infected individual on the other hand could send enough viral particles into the air to infect an entire room of people.
Being outdoors helps
This is where we see the role of environment, and air flow, play such a large factor. Outdoor gathering and recreation, like jogging in a local park or taking to the bike path—even if passing other people—dramatically reduces the chance of infection because of the constant circulation of air.
Gathering indoors however, whether it be in a restaurant, office, public transportation or place or worship significantly increases risk as these are enclosed areas where viral particles can linger because of limited air flow. These indoor spaces can become viral breeding grounds since people remain in close quarters for prolonged lengths of time. Infected particles can travel through the air via breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing, and particles can be spread throughout the room by air ventilation systems. It follows that a room in which the air is infected is more likely to have viral particles present on surfaces like doorknobs, countertops and so on.
Keep Informed. We will help.
As we move into this next phase in our battle against the spread of COVID-19, it’s important that we remain up to speed on the latest findings from the scientific community and the recommendations drawn from evolving research. Tests are becoming more readily available, and because we know that there are asymptomatic carriers of this virus, it is crucial to work with a health care provider to make sure you are clear of the virus and no longer contagious before reentering public life. For the reasons outlined above, use of personal masks when entering public spaces remains one of our best defenses against releasing viral particles into the spaces we inhabit.
Categorised in: Blog
This post was written by CJ Urgent Care of NJ