Simply talking to someone can cause COVID-19. Coronavirus spreads via droplets of spit that fly out from a rowdy talker or even just a person speaking up, according to new research.
We know to wear a mask and social distancing are key to slowing the spread, saving lives, and getting society back on track to a semblance of normalcy. But if someone does neither of those things and has a tendency to be a loud talker, they might be spreading coronavirus for a while, according to a study from the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.
The data analysis of volunteers found that when people were asked to speak a phrase, loud talkers were the worst culprits for spitting, and for diffusing coronavirus. A light imaged the spittle, and the video was replayed in slow motion. The results confirmed suspicions. Scientists believe the virus and its pandemic has been primarily airborne spread, so this is a bad sign.
“Highly sensitive laser light scattering observations have revealed that loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second,” said researchers.
The spread from talking is dreadful. About 2,600 droplets a second spread when someone spoke. It only takes one second to infect a person. And a person sick with COVID-19 might have 1,000 droplets per second to spread.
Conversations, even at a normal volume, leave deadly residuals behind for the next people. Droplets can stay in the air 8-14 minutes after a person has walked away. “This direct visualization demonstrates how normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces,” scientists said. And researchers noted that the louder speech gets, the spray of droplets are more likely to linger in the air.
It’s not conclusive evidence that we all need to keep quiet and learn sign language, although that would probably help, it just builds upon what research and data already show. The coronavirus spreads super fast and from each person to person just by opening our mouths.
This research reiterates other CDC research studying droplet spread via a choir practice. Two people died from the two-hour event, where spit droplets spread coronavirus.
In that case, singing near one another after just a couple hours infected dozens. Research showed, “a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including asymptomatic index patient, 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases occurred (attack rate = 53.3% to 86.7%); three patients were hospitalized, and two died.”
Breathing doesn’t spread the same way as loud projection does. So it’s important to talk with caution. This means what we already know, staying six feet apart, is important. If you take the time to talk to someone, do so with a mask and at a safe distance.
And watch for the many signs of coronavirus if you were around someone making a point at the top of their lungs.