𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐫: It’s risky being indoors and COVID-19 can travel around a room in tiny (unseen) particles quickly. Distancing ALONE makes no difference. You need to open those windows, reduce the time indoors, and wear a mask – or stay home if you can’t.
𝐋𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐫: We have known for a while now that being indoors is risky and COVID-19 is aerosolized (meaning the tiny particles we can expel when we simply talk can travel around a room up to 14-28 feet!). How risky? Let me show you some real-life scenarios that likely look like your workplace, school, restaurant/bar, or church:
***Note: Person zero = the person who is infected regardless if they are asymptomatic or symptomatic. You can still spread to others even if you don’t have symptoms. All scenarios were modeled by real-life data from real-life outbreaks in these settings. Go to the first source to see all pictures and scenarios that are discussed.
𝐒𝐂𝐄𝐍𝐀𝐑𝐈𝐎 𝟏: Being in a workplace even with distancing is not enough. This scenario assumed distancing was in place in a smaller office – this one probably looks familiar to many of you!
-Picture 1 – Notice patient zero
-Picture 2 – All 5 other people are infected EVEN with distancing.
-Picture 3 – If masks are worn = 4 are at risk
-Picture 4 – Open windows/masks/reduce time = 1 infected
𝐒𝐂𝐄𝐍𝐀𝐑𝐈𝐎 𝟐: In this bar, capacity was already reduced to 50% and distancing was in place. -Picture 5 – Notice patient zero in a room with 18 other people -Picture 6 – After 4 hours, 14 are infected -Picture 7 – If masks are used, 8 are infected -Picture 8 – If you open window + mask, 1 is infected.
𝐒𝐂𝐄𝐍𝐀𝐑𝐈𝐎 𝟑: School classroom (see more on schools from October 27th post)
-Picture 9 – Notice patient zero
-Picture 10 – After 2 hours, 12 of the 24 kids are infected
-Picture 11 – If masks are worn, 5 are infected
-Picture 12 – Ventilation + mask + reducing time = 1 infected
𝐒𝐂𝐄𝐍𝐀𝐑𝐈𝐎 𝟒: Church, indoor sporting event, concerts
Shouting, singing, talking loudly expels a LOT of aerosol particles. If you go to a church that does not require masking at ALL times indoors (wearing it ONLY while walking in and out of the building does no good – see the ‘Faith over Fear’ source), that is really risky. If you go to your kid’s volleyball game or a concert that does not require masking at ALL times, that is really risky. Ventilation is also needed for all of these scenarios. Look at the first source below for the pictures of church/indoor events/concerts, etc.
What does this tell us?
1. Being indoors is risky. Scenario 1 looks a lot like a family gatherings – even with distancing, it’s risky to be indoors. Think through this as you plan holidays, go to weddings, birthdays parties, etc.
2. Distancing ALONE won’t work (remember scenario 1?). They look distanced and probably feel safe – but, it’s not.
3. Open the windows and wear a mask. Here’s what the EPA recommends for air circulation if you can’t open a window: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/air-cleaners-hvac-filters-and-coronavirus-covid-19
4. Look at the full paper with these pictures below (first source) for a few other simulations of a church scenario and aerosols through speaking.
5. Remember someone is MOST contagious 2 days prior to even showing symptoms and knowing they are sick. So, if the kids or younger adults get sick, they can transmit to older adults or high-risk friends before they even know they are sick.
These scenarios will become more and more common as we approach holidays and we move indoors as the weather gets colder. If you have not made your COVID-19 bubble tighter, now is the time to do that. Make a plan of where you are comfortable or not comfortable going. But, don’t use your own risk tolerance level of where you “feel” safe. Many “feel” safe in Scenario 1 or at a church service that is not taking the precautions seriously. 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬.
Wisdom. Not fear.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
All pictures and scenarios: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-10-28/a-room-a-bar-and-a-class-how-the-coronavirus-is-spread-through-the-air.html?fbclid=IwAR3KditHRSj84oSLkC0s–l3_nNN_jNc72wNZ_dULdLeQROStm15_k4A4WY
A reminder of when someone is contagious and the importance of masks – https://tinyurl.com/y4rfjmc5
Does wearing a mask protect me even if others around me aren’t wearing one? https://tinyurl.com/yxj8lvdc It’s not just about dying from COVID-19.
Let’s talk about long-haulers. – https://tinyurl.com/y2nomqkj
A case study from a family get-together https://tinyurl.com/y57xu5q7
Why we need to pay attention to new cases, not just hospitalizations – https://tinyurl.com/yy68bsg2
Faith over fear? (Why we needs to wear masks at all times in church) – https://tinyurl.com/yxsaatcf
Church is at risk of being a super-spreader – https://tinyurl.com/y6do6n7p