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Coronavirus is in the air: what it means.

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1; Photo illustration of slate. Photo by Andriy Zhuravlyov / iStock / Getty Images Plus.

In the United States, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire. At the same time, the research community is learning more and more about how the coronavirus gets from one person to another. There are many nuances, and we do not know everything about it yet. But we are in an emergency, and we have important facts. To help penetrate the noise, the public should be warned directly and often: The coronavirus is in the air.

Researchers and doctors are spending months harassing a public health facility to develop reports on the spread of COVID-19. At first, many experts thought that the virus spread mostly in large droplets, like those that fly out of the mouth and fall to the ground for several feet, especially when coughing. Then it became clear that people without a cough or other symptoms could – and in many, many cases – spread the virus as well. In a letter to the White House on April 1, the National Academy of Sciences expressed concern about the risk of the coronavirus spreading in small droplets that could accumulate around us during conversation and even during normal breathing. Two days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people wear “faces” on their mouths and noses if they wished. In early July, 239 scientists called on the World Health Organization to finally recognize the risk of airborne COVID-19 transmission. The WHO now recognizes that coronavirus-carrying droplets may remain suspended in the air in crowded areas, but its messaging generally conveys the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the air as suppressed. For example, the WHO questions and impressions page gives the impression that if we stay about 3 feet apart, the distance they recommend, and taking care to wash our hands, everything will be fine.

Will not. The updated message that people need to receive is: In addition to visible routes of transmission, such as coughing or touching the surface and then your face, COVID-19 can be spread by the air we breathe, especially indoors. Or in short: the coronavirus is in the air. Repeat this. Tell your friends and family. We have to hear it on radio and podcasts, see it on PSA on TV and YouTube. We should write in small signs that we have to go through, as we carefully make our way to the grocery stores. While we don’t need to worry about infectious coronavirus clouds roaming the open beach – safe enough on the outside if you can stay away – we really need to worry about encountering the virus anywhere, where there are people in poorly ventilated areas, because coronavirus really does exist. by air. The message must be made by the noise of the world, which produces about 350,000 tweets each month, in which a person’s knowledge of a pandemic varies depending on the desired news source, and where a full third of Americans do not wear facewear in stores and other businesses.

Much of the problem with messaging can be that the word “in the air” implies different things for professionals in different disciplines. In aerosol science, “air” can describe particles floating in air currents. In medicine, “airborne” causes a set of specific measures to combat diseases suitable for patients with tuberculosis or chickenpox, such as isolation of patients in special rooms with negative air pressure. As a scientist, I can say about the specialized nature of this term, but as part of the general public who wants to avoid COVID-19, it doesn’t matter to me whether there is one virus that can be contagious in the air for 30 minutes (which is an estimate for SARS-CoV-2) and another virus that can be infectious in the air for two hours (this applies to the measles virus), both are described as airborne. It’s a matter of degree. What is important to me is that if I am in the same room as a person infected with COVID-19 and they are constantly singing, screaming, talking or even just breathing, there are SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that are carried by small droplets drifting through the air. that could potentially infect me. This is probably true, even if I’m six feet away, if I’m stuck in an unventilated room for a while – say, a dive bar. What worries me the most is the sound of coronavirus in my head.

“The coronavirus is in the air,” is an invigorating statement. He conveys that something harmful may be present, even when it is impossible to see with the naked eye or feel on the skin. Many people have already heard the phrase “it’s airy” in the context of “Flash”, the thriller “Dustin Hoffman” in 1995 (and the fifth most popular movie on Netflix in March!). This is already linked to a life-threatening illness. The laconic warning lends itself to repetition, the key tactic of setting up an idea. Most importantly, “coronavirus is in the air” provides direct support for precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as keeping at least six feet away from people who are not in your household, wearing a face over your nose and mouth when you are in in public, spend a minimum of time indoors, which is not your home, and improving ventilation in homes. (Surface transmission may be less common, but yes, it’s still important to wash your hands with soap.) If you’re going to be inside for a long time with people from different households, say, at school — Be careful that someone with an infection has a chance very low.

No time wasted. COVID-19 has already killed more than 674,000 people, including more than 152,000 Americans. The failures of the government, the private sector, international bodies, and beyond, were beyond the control of many people. But experts who respond to COVID-19 can control how they communicate with the public. Despite the fact that the scientific and technical nuances of COVID-19 are absolutely critical, the pandemic is a crisis, and now is definitely not the time when the ideal can be the enemy of a good, life-saving position. Communication with the public should prioritize engagement and clarity, so it is more likely that people will take effective protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Tell me this: Coronavirus is airborne. The coronavirus is in the air. The coronavirus is in the air.

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