Here's How Long Coronavirus Germs Stay in the Air Just From Talking
While many people know that COVID-19 can be spread through respiratory droplets that land on surfaces following a cough or sneeze, new research suggests that an activity most of us participate in on a daily basis could be contributing to new infections. According to a recent study, talking spreads coronavirus.
The study, published on May 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, reveals that the act speaking can transmit COVID-19. So, just how much of a risk does talking really present?
The study's researchers discovered that speaking in a loud voice can introduce thousands of fluid droplets containing viral material into the air every second. Scarier yet, these droplets are still detectable in the air for up to 14 minutes in an environment with stagnant air, leading the study's researchers to report that "there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments."
This is particularly troubling because many people infected with coronavirus are asymptomatic carriers, meaning a normal conversation in close quarters with another person could easily cause the virus to spread. While the exact number of asymptomatic carriers has yet to be determined, reports suggest the numbers may be disturbingly high. A March study of passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship published in Eurosurveillance found that 17.9 percent of individuals with coronavirus aboard the ship were asymptomatic, while a small April study of pregnant women published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that 87.9 of the women who tested positive for coronavirus were asymptomatic at the time of testing.
While these numbers may make it seem as though contracting coronavirus is a foregone conclusion, there are ways to mitigate the risk from talking. In an April review of 31 studies issued for preprint in medRxiv, researchers found that wearing masks did provide some measure of protection if both sick and well people wore them. In fact, one of the included studies found that, among a group of housemates with a sick member, all of whom wore masks, the rate of viral transmission was reduced by up to 19 percent.
SOCIAL DISTANCING NEEDS TO CONTINUE EVEN AFTER PUBLIC PLACES BEGIN TO REOPEN.
Some states are already starting to reopen, and some plan to lift lockdown orders in the near future. However, this doesn't mean it's safe to go back to how life was before. Even as the country starts to emerge from quarantine, many of the safety precautions we've been employing the last few months need to remain in practice in order to avoid a dangerous second wave of the coronavirus. To help you stay safe, here are the mistakes you should avoid when out in public after reopening.
1. Shaking hands 2. Hosting a party to reconnect with friends, 3. No longer practicing social distancing 4. Showing up to a restaurant without calling 5. Visiting places that have lax safety protocols 6. Paying with cash 7. Having all employees return to work at the same time 8. Forgetting about other safety measures 9. Assuming the virus is no longer a threat