Scientists say coronavirus can spread in air and linger

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SAN DIEGO – A group of 239 health experts around the world says new evidence shows that the tiniest droplets from your mouth or nose can linger in the air for long periods of time, potentially spreading coronavirus farther and longer than previously thought.

“What the scientists are saying is, there’s accumulated evidence that aerosols — tiny particles that hang in the air — can be another source of potential infection.” said Scripp Research scientist Daniel Oran. “The evidence is mainly coming from two sources where we’ve seen a couple of super-spreading events — cases where people were too far apart to be in range of these regular droplets that come out of people’s mouths.”

In one case in Washington state, a 60-member choir was practicing what was thought to be a safe distance apart. Fortyfive of them became infected with coronavirus.   

“The only way that could happen is probably through aerosol transmission.  To give you some sense, aerosol means that it’s smaller than 5 micrograms. Think about 20 of these, and stick them together to make the thickness of one human hair.  So it’s really tiny particles,” Oran said

Oran has a simulation video of one cough which shows how quickly micro droplets spread through a room the size an average classroom, and how long the droplets linger in the air.

“Increasingly people outside the World Health Organization are coming to the consensus that being inside is especially dangerous,” Oran said. “That’s why we’re seeing the super-spreading events. So the advice to go outside and keep your distance is more important than ever.”

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