Biologist: Be Less Worried About People Not Wearing Masks, More Worried About Loud Talkers

A biologist whose blog about the coronavirus has gone viral told CNN that you have a higher chance of contracting the virus from someone who is talking loudly in a crowded space than someone who is simply breathing while not wearing a mask.

Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, started a blog about how the coronavirus spreads to help inform his friends and family. The blog, however, became a huge success, amassing more than 13 million views in a week, CNN reported.

The blog post, “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them,” goes into detail about how the coronavirus spreads and how people can best protect themselves. One section of the post discusses how much of the virus is released into the environment under various conditions:

A Bathroom: Bathrooms have a lot of high touch surfaces, door handles, faucets, stall doors. So fomite transfer risk in this environment can be high. We still do not know whether a person releases infectious material in feces or just fragmented virus, but we do know that toilet flushing does aerosolize many droplets. Treat public bathrooms with extra caution (surface and air), until we know more about the risk.

A Cough: A single cough releases about 3,000 droplets and droplets travels at 50 miles per hour. Most droplets are large, and fall quickly (gravity), but many do stay in the air and can travel across a room in a few seconds.

A Sneeze: A single sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets, with droplets traveling at up to 200 miles per hour. Most droplets are small and travel great distances (easily across a room).

If a person is infected, the droplets in a single cough or sneeze may contain as many as 200,000,000 (two hundred million) virus particles which can all be dispersed into the environment around them.

A breath: A single breath releases 50 – 5000 droplets. Most of these droplets are low velocity and fall to the ground quickly. There are even fewer droplets released through nose-breathing. Importantly, due to the lack of exhalation force with a breath, viral particles from the lower respiratory areas are not expelled.

The post also notes that talking, singing, and yelling are more likely to spread the virus then a simple breath.

“A big part of me writing these posts is just to give some tangible advice to friends, family, about what risks they should really be worrying about and wasting mental energy on,” Bromage told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”

“Not a lot of my friends know what we should be doing now in this brave new world,” he added, according to the outlet. “I was trying to give them the tools they need to know if you end up indoors — which we’re going to — in an environment where there seems like there’s a lot of people, and it just doesn’t feel right, then that’s a situation that you should avoid. Use your feet, find somewhere else that feels more comfortable for you.”

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