Education about COVID-19 and its transmission is key to safe and healthy environments. Scientific information has evolved and, with holidays upon us when the pull to gather is great, it is important each of us is prepared to make the best decisions for personal safety and the safety of those impacted by our choices. All gatherings pose a risk of transmission when people of different households mix, and current data shows us that people are most likely to get COVID-19 from family and friends. This is a time to be extra cautious.
Of course, no one needs to be reminded what the stakes are in the fight against this virus, but all of us need help fighting the fatigue – fatigue of physical distancing, the weariness of mask wearing, and the wish to throw off precautions we know we should follow. We can only stop this virus together – and that is where we are lucky. We have Communities where our people love and cherish each other. We just need to keep our energy up! To fuel our knowledge banks, the following are excerpts of studies and outbreak analysis conducted in Spain.[i]
“At present, health authorities recognize 3 vehicles of COVID-19 transmission: 1) small droplets from speaking or coughing, which can end up in the eyes, mouth or nose of people standing nearby; 2) contaminated surfaces… although… this is the least likely way…; 3) transmission by aerosols – inhalation of invisible infectious particles exhaled by an infected person that behave in a similar way to smoke. Without venting, aerosols remain suspended in the air and become increasingly dense as time passes….”
“During simulations, subjects maintain the recommended safe distance, eliminating the risk of transmission via droplets. But they can still become infected if all preventive measures are not simultaneously applied: correct ventilation, shortening encounters, reducing the number of participants, and wearing face masks. The ideal scenario… would be outdoors, where infectious particles are rapidly diffused.
“If a safe distance from the infected person is not maintained, probability of transmission is multiplied because there would also be risk of contagion from droplets – not just aerosols. Making matters worse, even if there is ventilation, it would not be enough to diffuse aerosols...” [Any persons in the room could become infected, irrespective of proximity to the infected person, as aerosols are distributed randomly around an unventilated room.] [An additional issue at gatherings, is raising your voice to be heard which multiplies expulsion of potentially contagious particles at a rate of] “50x more particles than when we don’t speak at all.”
The holidays are a time of reflection on who and what we cherish and all that we are thankful for. We are in the interesting moment of having the season approach while COVID cases in every State are escalating rapidly, which certainly changes a great deal of how we celebrate.
Please reach out to your Community if you want to talk through any concerns you have about staying safe during the holidays or if you are looking for a clinical perspective on how to do your part to protect those your love. We want everyone to have a joyful and safe season, because you are who we cherish and are thankful for. Staying strong, we win. Thank you for being part of the #GenerationsNation.
[i] Source: El Pais, based on analysis of outbreak studies and a calculation tool, COVID Airborne Transmission Estimator, reviewed by scientists, and developed by a group of scientists led by Jose Luis Jimenez, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Colorado and an expert in the chemistry and dynamics of air particles