You can get the coronavirus if someone coughs on you, if you touch a contaminated door handle, and if someone is infected in your home and they don’t quarantine themselves in a specific room. These are just a few of the ways you can infect yourself with COVID-19. Direct contact and shared surfaces. Can you catch the virus if someone is infected and standing upwind from you at the beach, however? What if the person in the hotel room next to you is infected with COVID-19? Will the virus trickle in through your vent, up your nose and into your system?
Some studies show this could be possible. Aerosols, as they are called, are tiny droplets that leave your mouth when you breathe, talk, sing, or do something like playing a wind instrument. Research has shown these microdroplets are very small and light in weight. This means they can stay afloat for a long time. Consequently, microdroplets can actually travel further than 6 feet (2 meters) while waiting to land on something. A study has shown that a 5 nanometer droplet can actually travel tens of meters (tens of feet) if expelled from a person at a height of just 5 feet. This is before the tiny thing finally touches the floor.
Donald Milton, who is a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland who studies how viruses are transmitted, is concerned, and spoke to CNN about it. He and some 239 other scientists wrote an open letter urging health authorities to acknowledge these dangers. The new coronavirus can be easily transmitted through the air, and from some distance, they say. Milton and other experts feel the WHO and the CDC are failing the public by not giving people more information about this.
Why are the authorities silent? Do these health experts have an alternative agenda when it comes COVID-19 being readily airborne?
Yes and no. There is nothing outright malicious going on. Milton said he feels organizations like the WHO simply do not want to make people afraid, is all. Basically, they don’t want to freak us out. But who is really calm these days, in the face of COVID-19? Would it really make things worse to tell us all that we can get the virus from someone who is infected and standing near a park bench some twenty feet away? It is easy to see how keeping people calm is wise. Sometimes the truth is the best medicine, however.
Milton said the WHO is also afraid of giving people advice we simply cannot really follow. Healthcare workers in workplaces with few resources could feel their efforts were in vain, particularly. It is a fact that you can only really protect yourself 100% from spreading or getting the virus in the air when out in public by wearing an N95 respirator or something higher, and these masks are truly in short supply.
There is also the fear that we may all give up. If everyone learns they may easily get the virus no matter what they do, (bar staying at home at all times), most of us could give up trying to protect ourselves at all. We could stop washing our hands, spraying down our shared surfaces, and practicing social distancing, which would make matters that much worse than they already are.
Milton is sure in his convictions.
“A lot of people crowded close together indoors where it is poorly ventilated — that is what drives the pandemic,” he said.
The coronavirus cases rising on a map of the US are proof of this. Think bars, restaurant dining rooms, and clubs. People there are shouting to be heard, laughing, and air circulation is often poor. A lot of virus-carrying particles can end up in the air, particularly if people are asymptomatic and feeling over-confident.
What can we all do? At the very least, wear a mask. We need numbers to come down.
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