As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, we are constantly bombarded with “new” information. Much of this information increases our anxiety and confusion and unfortunately there is no end in sight. However, staying current with recommendations from the experts and applying them to your day-to-day operations may prevent the spread of infection and protect your residents and staff!
The World Health Organization (WHO) has expanded its coronavirus guidance to include the possibility in certain circumstances of airborne transmission, in which the virus could be spread through tiny droplets that linger in the air. “There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed setting such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting or singing.” “In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others cannot be ruled out”.
With droplet transmission, it is thought that virus-filled particles can be ejected from the mouth or the nose when a person speaks, coughs or sneezes. The droplets can be flung through the air up to 6 feet from the infected person before it drops to the ground or other surface. Airborne transmission occurs when tiny aerosol particles are expelled by talking, sneezing or coughing but then remain suspended in the air.
When Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “there’s no solid evidence that that type of transmission is occurring but we can’t rule it out completely.” Experimental data support the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 may be transmitted by aerosols (so-called airborne transmission) even in the absence of aerosol-generating procedures (such as intubation or non-invasive positive pressure ventilation). Investigators have demonstrated that speaking and coughing produce a mixture of both droplets and aerosols in a range of sizes that can travel together for up to 27 feet and remain suspended in the air for hours.
It is impossible to conclude that aerosol-based transmission never occurs, and it is perfectly understandable that many prefer to err on the side of caution, particularly in health care settings when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Bottom line, everyone should wear a mask, period. Mask up everyone, stay well, stay safe and stay tuned!