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Researchers Just Confirmed COVID-19 Is Airborne: Steps to Protect Yourself
Even as our planet’s outdoor air becomes noticeably cleaner in the wake of the worldwide pandemic, our focus is increasingly shifting to a concern about the quality of our indoor air.
And with good reason, as it turns out.
Just this past week, a research team working at the University of Florida finally captured what researchers worldwide are calling a “smoking gun.” They were able to culture and grow live SARS-CoV-2 virus taken from airborne circulating infectious droplets.
What the team found simply confirms what 239 researchers previously stated in an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO). Social distancing is not enough protection. More must be done to contain the spread of COVID-19.
So now that we know, what can you do? That is the focus of this blog post.
4 New Research-Backed Lessons About COVID-19 in Indoor Spaces
Given that this new research is barely days old, it is too early to say for sure what the ripple effect will be at workplaces, in schools and even in the home.
What is clear already though, is that it is time to stop splitting hairs about how big or small the airborne droplets have to be, how fast or far they can travel and even the concentration that “must” be present to infect someone who encounters active airborne coronavirus.
The truth is, each of these variables still doesn’t factor in the health of the individual that encounters the virus. We must remember we still know very little about why some people get COVID-19 and some people do not get it.
This means more caution rather than less is absolutely the order of the day.
These are the four main lessons that have come out of this breaking research:
- COVID-19 lives quite well and lasts a relatively long time in an airborne state.
- Active, live virus particles can travel much farther than two meters.
- The smaller the aerosol particles are, the higher the risk of transmission.
- Social distancing alone is completely ineffective to stop the threat in indoor spaces.
4 Key Ways to Protect Yourself from Indoor Airborne COVID-19
Even if we learn everything there is to learn about COVID-19 – how it transmits, how much you have to inhale to get infected, how long it lives on this or that surface – we may never discover why one person gets infected and the next person does not.
We are, however, learning more every day about how to protect ourselves from becoming the next COVID-19 statistic.
These four tips will help you stay safer starting now.
1. Stay out of public spaces (yes, even if you are wearing your mask).
This is not easy to hear or pleasant to type, but the research study that delivered the “smoking gun” evidence was conducted in a COVID-19 hospital ward outfitted with every possible safety precaution, including laboratory-grade ventilation, air purification and filtration.
What this means is that, for the foreseeable future at least, all public spaces pose a risk of potential infection. So, the safest thing you can do for yourself and your family is to stay home.
2. Wear a proper mask and keep washing your hands.
While the wealth of customized mask products in cute patterns might suggest otherwise, a mask is not a fashion accessory. The only reason to wear a mask is to prevent active viral particles from entering your body.
Not all masks are created equal here. Be sure to do your research to verify that the mask type you have been using can actually protect you.
It is also vital to wear that mask properly so that it covers your nose and your mouth and fits snugly around the lower portion of your face.
Proper hand washing is still considered a vital source of protection as well.
3. Bolster your immune system and stay healthy.
If it seems like we learn something new about COVID-19 nearly every day, this is because we actually do. It is easy to forget we are still in the very earliest phases of even understanding the virus that is causing this pandemic, much less understanding how to stop it.
Your own immune system is the number one protection you have against the infectious droplets that cause COVID-19.
Everything from chronic stress to sleep deprivation to poor diet to a sedentary lifestyle to pre-existing health issues may weaken your immune response if or when you come in contact with the new novel coronavirus.
You want your immune system to be in its finest fighting form if this happens. So, get enough sleep and do everything you can to stay as healthy as you can.
4. Add indoor air ventilation, filtration and purification.
The research study you read about here earlier was conducted in a hospital setting, which means that simply installing indoor air quality improvements alone won’t offer you the full protection you need against COVID-19.
In fact, relatively bizarre factors ranging from your nostril size and shape to how much nose hair you have can also impact how easily you become infected as well as how sick you get after infection.
Yet again, this also means that every bit of extra protection can potentially lower your risk.
Here is an example. In that same hospital study, the concentration of active airborne viral droplets was very low.
Home, school and workplace versions of these same air quality protections are readily available to help you and your family reduce your risk of infection.
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