[Pille R. Priske / Unsplash]

The Virus is Still a Danger: Studies Show That People Shouldn’t Get Overconfident

16:01 May 21, 2020
By: Caroline Hebert

As America begins to open back up, people are forgetting to continue taking precautions with everyday life. According to erinbromage.com, data from the outbreaks in China and Italy shows the backside of the morality curve is declining slowly. Although we are already at 70,000 deaths, it is possible we may lose another 70,000 over the next six weeks.

With Louisiana currently in the process of reopening, preventive measures should take place. Below is a breakdown of the virus and its involvement in our lives.

Where is the virus?

To get infected, one needs to be exposed to a small infectious dose of the virus, and certain locations in our day-to-day lives are more dangerous than others. Places like the bathroom require the most precautions.

A single sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets that can travel up to 200 miles per hour. An infected person's sneeze can contain around 200 million virus particles that will be released into the surrounding environment. The particles exposed can hang in the air and fall on to surfaces, and, if close to you, one can inhale 1,000 particles and become infected. When speaking, respiratory droplets release droplets about 10-fold (about 200 virus particles per minute). Therefore, it would take five minutes of speaking to receive the required dose. This is why it is important for people who are symptomatic to stay home because they could potentially infect an entire room of people.

The biggest outbreaks are in prison, religious ceremonies, and workplaces like meatpacking facilities and call centers. Enclosed places with poor air circulation and a large group of people are most dangerous.

Restaurants: An example using a shoe-leather epidemiology demonstrates the effects of a single asymptomatic person in a restaurant. According to the CDC , "The infected person (A1) sat at a table and had dinner with nine friends. Dinner took about 1 to 1.5 hours. During this meal, the asymptomatic carrier released low levels of virus into the air from their breathing. Airflow (from the restaurant's various airflow vents) was from right to left. Approximately 50 percent of the people at the infected person's table became sick over the next seven days. 75 percent of the people on the adjacent downwind table became infected. And even 2 of the 7 people on the upwind table were infected (believed to happen by turbulent airflow). No one at tables E or F became infected; they were out of the main airflow from the air conditioner on the right to the exhaust fan on the left of the room."

Workplaces: An example of how an outbreak can take place in the workspace was provided by the CDC: " A single infected employee came to work on the 11th floor of a building. That floor had 216 employees. Over the period of a week, 94 of those people became infected (43.5%). 92 of those 94 people became sick (only 2 remained asymptomatic). One side of the office is primarily infected, while there are very few people infected on the other side. While exact number of people infected by respiratory droplets / respiratory exposure versus fomite transmission (door handles, shared water coolers, elevator buttons etc.) is unknown. It serves to highlight that being in an enclosed space, sharing the same air for a prolonged period, increases your chances of exposure and infection. Another 3 people on other floors of the building were infected, but the authors were not able to trace the infection to the primary cluster on the 11th floor. Interestingly, even though there were considerable interactions between workers on different floors of the building in elevators and the lobby, the outbreak was mostly limited to a single floor."

The role of asymptomatic people

As much as 44 percent of all infections occur from asymptomatic people. One can release the virus into surrounding environments for up to five days before symptoms begin to show. Data has revealed that 20 percent of infected people are responsible for 99 percent of the released viral load.

Although businesses are opening and people are returning to work, the risk for ourselves and our families is still great. Taking precautions such as wearing a mask can reduce the virus's release into surrounding environments and help flatten the curve.

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