As businesses and communities across the country reopen, many Americans continue to have questions about how they can interact safely with one another.
Conflicting advice from President Trump, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about masks and asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has created confusion and made our work to get answers to questions about safety more challenging.
To get some clarity, AHCJ will hold a webcast at noon E.T. on Wednesday, June 17 featuring Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, who will share his knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 spreads.
Bromage, who studies infectious diseases and immunology, started a blog called “COVID-19 Musings” at the beginning of the outbreak. His aim was to share information and advice with family, friends and students about the virus.
In May, he wrote a post called: “The Risks ― Know Them ― Avoid Them.” The post (which now has been read by more than 20 million people) remains one of the most clear and concise analyses about the science and research of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and how to translate that information to assess your infection risk.
The upshot: to get infected, a person needs to get an infectious dose of the virus. That dose is related to the amount of time someone spends in the vicinity of aerosolized virus particles or respiratory droplets. We still don’t know how much the infectious dose is and how many people without symptoms are infectious, but masks work to prevent spread. It also appears that while virus particles can live on surfaces for hours, very little spread is occurring from touching a surface with the virus on it.
For AHCJ’s webcast, Bromage will talk more about his blog post, offer his thoughts on how journalists can communicate the science of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to the public and what he knows about how the virus jumped from animals to humans.
He will also answer questions such as: Can we go to pools, playgrounds and amusement parks? What about the hair salon, a neighborhood barbecue or a small dinner party? As offices and schools reopen, how can we assess the risks of being indoors and the potential that the air system may be circulating the virus? Can we safely get on an airplane again?
We invite our members to pose more questions for Bromage by clicking here. You will have the opportunity to ask more questions during the webcast as well.
In the meantime, here is some further reading on transmission:
- New York Times: CDC calls for masks at large gatherings, warning of crowd risks, June 12
- CDC: Considerations for events and gatherings, June 12
- Factcheck.org: Unpacking the WHO’s asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission comments, June 12
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19, June 11