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Coronavirus can spread much further than 6 feet in indoor spaces with poor ventilation



When students return to school, parents and teachers are increasingly concerned about how coronavirus can be spread – especially in buildings with insufficient ventilation.

John Lednicky is studying viruses at the University of Florida. “There was a lot of controversy about whether or not SARS-CoV-2 would be transmitted via airway routes,” Lednicky told CBS News.

Lednicky̵

7;s team analyzed air samples in a hospital room and found that infectious viruses can be spread through the air – up to 16 meters from an infected patient – through droplets called aerosols.

“Oh, this is the smoke gun everyone’s asked for!” said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech who studies how viruses travel through the air.

“We are talking about a virus that is present in very small droplets, small ones that we call aerosols that can travel much further through the air and remain in the air for minutes to hours at a time,” Marr explained.

This is important because until recently, attention has mainly focused on the spread of the virus within 6 feet.

Aerosols can be produced just by talking. A classroom simulation shows how the spread of the virus is significantly reduced simply by placing ventilation near a teacher.

“Once we recognize that the virus is transmitted through aerosols, we can then take action to address it and reduce the risk,” Marr said.

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