In a recent study published in PNAS, researchers explained how airborne transmission arises through the inhalation of aerosol droplets exhaled by an infected person and is now thought to be the primary transmission route of COVID-19. Their assumption is that the respiratory droplets are mixed uniformly through an indoor space. The study discusses a theoretical model that quantifies the extent to which transmission risk is reduced in large rooms with high air exchange rates, increased for more vigorous respiratory activities, and dramatically reduced by the use of face masks.
The current revival of the American economy is being predicated on social distancing, specifically the Six-Foot Rule, a guideline that offers little protection from pathogen-bearing aerosol droplets sufficiently small to be continuously mixed through an indoor space. This study focused on the importance of airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the researchers feel it is now widely recognized as such.
There continues to be much debate regarding the airborne versus droplet spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many researchers believe it can be controlled using physical distancing and facemasks while others insist that ventilation indoors is a bigger concern. Whatever the cause of the spread, maintain the use of appropriate preventive interventions that are outlined on the CDC website and all local health department sites. Let’s not assume we know, just be safe! Stay well, mask up indoors and stay tuned!