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Coronavirus can spread far beyond 6 meters in indoor spaces with poor ventilation



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

John Lednicky studies viruses at the University of Florida. “There was a lot of controversy about SARS-CoV-2 being broadcast or not being broadcast over the air,” Lednicky told CBS News.

Analyzing air samples in a hospital room, Lednicky̵

7;s team found that the infectious virus could spread through the air – up to 16 feet[16 m]away from an infected patient – through tiny droplets called aerosols.

“Oh, this is the tobacco weapon everyone has been looking 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, the tiny ones we call aerosols that can travel farther through the air and stay in the air for minutes per hour at a time,” Marr explained. .

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

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

“Once we accept that the virus is transmitting through aerosols, then we can take steps to address it and reduce that risk,” Marr said.

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.


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