COVID is definitely airborne – Here’s what that means for you

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Credit: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control revised its COVID-19 guidelines on [October 5] to include that the novel coronavirus can be spread through aerosols, which “can linger in the air for minutes to hours” and travel farther than six feet.

Until now it was understood that the coronavirus is spread is through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes, and experts still believe that is the main way it is spread. But now experts also agree that airborne transmission is a key piece of the COVID-19 puzzle.

An easy way to visualize how these airborne particles act is to think about the way that cigarette smoke lingers and can be inhaled, Linsey Marr, coauthor of the paper and a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, said in a press conference [October 5]. Like smoke, aerosols can accumulate in a confined space, like a poorly ventilated room or areas where people are breathing heavily.

Related article:  The bubonic plague sparked cultural and technological transformation. What might come from COVID?

Since airborne spread is a possibility, keep in mind that indoor gatherings (especially in places that are not well ventilated) with people outside your household increase your risk of infection.

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Beyond wearing a mask and maintaining social distance, using portable air purifiers is one way to reduce airborne contaminants in a space. And simply opening windows to introduce clean air into your space is another way to increase ventilation.

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