New Research Shows that Airborne Transmission of COVID-19 Can Occur When Conditions are Right

October 15, 2020

The CDC recently reported that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur in rare cases under just the right circumstances. In most cases, the virus is transmitted from one person to another in droplet form, and occurs when affected individuals are less than six feet away from the source for 15 minutes or more. That’s because the “droplets” are heavy enough to fall to the ground, and do not stay suspended in air. However, new research indicates that when exposure occurs in enclosed spaces, exposure time is greater than 30 minutes, and some kind of expiratory exertion is taking place, such as shouting, singing, or exercising, the virus can be transmitted in aerosol form (smaller particles suspended in air). Social distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, surface cleaning and disinfection, ventilation, and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces are effective protective measures for both forms of transmission. However, adequate ventilation and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces are especially important when work is being performed in enclosed spaces where circumstances can increase the concentration of suspended small particles carrying the infectious virus. If you believe your workers could be exposed to airborne transmission of the virus, MCAA recommends that you revise your COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan to ensure adequate ventilation and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces in affected work areas.

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