Here’s Where You Have The Biggest Risks of Contracting COVID19
As Western New York prepares to reopen in Phase 1, you might be concerned about where you have the biggest risks of contracting coronavirus.
While data is changing as we learn more about the novel coronavirus, places are readying to reopen.
So here's what we know so far about where you're likely to be infected with coronavirus, and how an infection can more easily happen in some places as opposed to others. And, why many of New York State's newest cases are coming from people who haven't left their homes.
First, let's talk about how a person becomes infected with coronavirus.
According to an article written by Erin Bromage, Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, it only takes about 1000 Covid-19 particles to cause an infection in a person.
"Infection could occur, through 1000 infectious viral particles you receive in one breath or from one eye-rub, or 100 viral particles inhaled with each breath over 10 breaths, or 10 viral particles with 100 breaths. Each of these situations can lead to an infection."
That sounds pretty dire, but when Bromage works the numbers into some context, it makes more sense.
Coronavirus particles travel via our breath, droplets released when we speak, cough and sneeze. And you need to be exposed to a certain number of particles over a period of time for an infection to take hold in your body.
Because of our biology, some circumstances make it far more likely to catch coronavirus than others.
Sneezing and coughing within a close distance to a person is by far the riskiest situation to find yourself in.
"Some virus hangs in the air, some falls into surfaces, most falls to the ground. So if you are face-to-face with a person, having a conversation, and that person sneezes or coughs straight at you, it's pretty easy to see how it is possible to inhale 1,000 virus particles and become infected."
However, even if you weren't in the direct path of someone coughing or sneezing, those infected droplets land on every surface of a room, and if you enter the room soon after an infected person coughs or sneezes -- you have a high risk of infection.
But what about regular breathing, like when you're in a store?
"But with general breathing, 20 viral particles minute into the environment, even if every virus ended up in your lungs (which is very unlikely), you would need 1000 viral particles divided by 20 per minute = 50 minutes."
So it sounds like if you're able to keep your trips on the shorter side, you'll decrease your likelihood of contracting coronavirus while out in public. Wearing a mask can also decrease spread considerably.
That said, don't start having close face-to-face conversations anytime soon. Bromage writes:
"Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold; ~200 virus particles per minute. Again, assuming every virus is inhaled, it would take ~5 minutes of speaking face-to-face to receive the required dose."
As for how people are being infected in their homes? It comes down to someone else in their household has contracted enough of the virus to spread through close and sustained contact with household members. Remember, exposure to virus over time is how an infection occurs.