Webcast: Covering airborne transmission, masks and virus variants

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Département des Yvelines via Flickr

Photo: Département des Yvelines via Flickr

With falling COVID-19 infection and mortality numbers as well as increasing vaccinations, pressure is growing to reopen businesses and schools to in-person learning.

But questions remain about COVID-19 transmission, the best ways to create safe indoor environments and how new variants of the virus may change public health advice on reopening businesses and schools.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization say that COVID-19’s primary transmission route is through respiratory droplets between close contacts and, in some circumstances, through the air in enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation.

There remains some disagreement about whether airborne transmission is a major or minor transmission route. Still, both ways contribute to spread, which is why scientists and public health experts continue to recommend wearing masks and increasing ventilation indoors.

To help journalists with the evolving understanding of COVID-19 transmission and cover the next phase of the pandemic, experts will speak to and answer questions from AHCJ members in a webinar on Friday, Feb. 26. Confirmed panelists are Joseph Allen, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health associate professor and the Lancet’s COVID-19 task force chair on safe work, school and travel, and Saskia Popescu, Ph.D., George Mason University assistant professor and an infectious disease epidemiologist and infection preventionist.

Allen, the author of the book “Healthy Buildings,” is a vocal proponent of increasing ventilation inside communal spaces and has been consulting with businesses and schools on creating indoor environments that reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. He’ll share his perspective on masks, understanding ventilation equipment and best ways to structure airflow in indoor spaces to reduce pathogen transmission now and into the future.

Popescu, an epidemiologist specializing in infectious disease prevention, will provide her perspective about what has been learned over the past year about COVID-19 transmission, masks, virus variants and when it may be safe to return to pre-pandemic activities.

Both will also share potential story ideas for journalists to focus on in the coming months.

To help the panelists to take as many questions as possible, you can submit your questions here in advance. This webcast also will be recorded, with a link posted in the afternoon after the discussion.

Leave a Reply