HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Health experts are now saying there is emerging evidence that the coronavirus is more airborne than people once thought.
This could have a big effect on the reopening of the country because experts are saying indoor environments could pose more of a risk than previously thought.
For the last few months, the information given was that the virus was spread through droplets, which comes from coughs or sneezes. That’s why staying six feet apart is so important.
Hundreds of medical experts called on the World Health Organization to review evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through the air, much more than initially thought.
“What we’re learning is that it isn’t just those larger droplets when people are speaking, couching or singing, but that the virus can float through the air in further distances than we ever knew,” said Dr. Summer McGee, University of New Haven Health Sciences.
Dr. Summer McGee, the Dean of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven explains all it takes is air conditioning and other ventilation to spread the virus throughout a room.
“I think in hindsight that there will be no doubt that indoor dining, the reopening of indoor bars in many states across the country, was a major contributor to the resurgence of the virus,” Dr. McGee said.
The WHO plants to release their findings, with updated recommendations in the next few days. The results could have a big impact on the rest of Connecticut’s reopening, particularly schools or offices where people can stay for hours.
“I think we need to look carefully at how our ventilation systems are operating,” Dr. McGee said.
It took months for health experts to arrive at this conclusion and Dr. McGee says that’s to be expected when dealing with a virus so new and mysterious.
“It’s hard and the uncertainty is really challenging for people to get guidance or think we have a scientific understanding today and have that upended tomorrow, but that is the nature of science with any emerging disease,” Dr. McGee said.
Doctors say the highest risk places are crowded indoor spaces, where ventilation may be poor.
The solution could come in the form of powerful filters, like HEPA filters. Those are the ones on plans and in hospitals, but they’re very expensive and the average school district or locally owned restaurant might not be able to afford it.
As for how long the virus can last in the air, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine revealed it could stay suspended in the air in that aerosol form for three hours in certain cases. Usually, it would drift down much sooner.