PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its statement about the airborne transmission of coronavirus, citing evidence the virus can spread beyond six feet indoors.
“The most common way of transmission is through air. So somebody’s infected and they cough, particles will remain suspended in the air for some time and then drop,” says AHN infectious diseases physician Dr. Nitin Bhanot. “It doesn’t mean going with a tape measure and saying six feet. If you are in a room with somebody for an hour, two hours and you don’t have your mask on, even if you are beyond six feet, there is a chance you may get it.”
Infections have happened within enclosed spaces without enough ventilation.
“Changing air filter, running the fan on and more circulation is better than no circulation whatsoever,” Dr. Bhanot said.
In some cases, the infected person was breathing heavily during exercise or singing.
“Exercising, running, coughing violently, singing, it’s more of mechanics, that if you do that, the particles will spread further away,” he added.
The concern is aerosols — tiny particles that can float distances through the air unlike the heavier droplets that fall to the ground, typically within six feet. It’s not one or the other but rather both, though one more than the other.
“It’s not all or none, but the primary route of transmission is still droplets,” Dr. Bhanot said.
For that reason, masks and distance are still important.
“People should not let their guard down,” says Dr. Bhanot. “Bottom line is that you got to keep everything in mind: distancing, masks and hand hygiene.”
Close contact remains the main setting for transmission, that is closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes and especially without a mask.