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Does COVID-19 move like smoke?

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

November 18th, 2020 10:24 AM

On April 2 the CDC published online research from Gangzhou, China that showed the COVID virus was airborne and followed indoor airflow to infect people. (1)

On July 6, 239 scientists from 32 countries urged the World Health Organization to acknowledge the growing evidence that COVID-19 is airborne. (2)

On Aug. 25, Time Magazine published an article that suggests COVID-19 Aerosol moves indoors like second-hand smoke. The New York Times, Discover Magazine, MIT, Medscape and others have published articles that support this idea. (3, 4, 5)

How long do COVID aerosols remain in the indoor air? It depends on the room temperature and humidity. Colder room temperature and lower humidity greatly increases the time that COVID floats in the air. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has put a "SARS-CoV-2 Airborne Decay Calculator" online, so you can check the numbers for this winter. Also, DHS updates research every week online under the title "Master Question List for COVID-19."

How does smoke move about indoors? Some people are old enough to remember when 9 out of 10 doctors smoked Camel cigarettes, and they probably can recall watching smoke floating around indoors. In rooms with poor ventilation, smoke can hang for hours and accumulate in a room like a cloud. It can spread widely indoors while thinning out. Decades ago, restaurants tried separate smoking sections. Comedian George Carlin said this was like creating a peeing section in swimming pools. A common way to remove smoke was to open a window on one side of the room and turn on an exhaust fan on the other side of the room. 

The following June 9 YouTube video shows how COVID aerosols might move like smoke: "Aerosois: Key to control the corona spread / COVID-19 Special – YouTube"

(1) COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Gangzhou, China Volume 26,Number 7 CDC.

(2) "239 Experts with One Big Claim: The Coronavirus is airborne." New York Times, July 25.

(3) "COVID-19 is Transmitted Through Aerosols. We Have Enough Evidence. Now It is Time to Act." Time Magazine, Aug. 25.

(4) "What a Smoky Bar can Teach Us About the "6 foot rule" During the Covid-19 Pandemic." Discover Magazine, Sept. 10.

(5) "Think of coronavirus in bars like cigarette smoke says expert on importance of ventilation." EuroNews, Oct. 13.

Robert Sullivan

Oak Park

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