The droplets from simply talking can be enough to spread the coronavirus, researchers say.
By using lasers, scientists found that one minute of talking loudly can produce more than 1,000 virus-containing droplets that could linger in the air for more than eight minutes, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
As states gradually reopen, scientists fear that reopening too soon could worsen the virus outbreak. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in front of a Senate panel Tuesday and said the consequences for states reopening without following proper guidelines "could be really serious."
End of the handshake: How do we replace the ancient greeting if coronavirus keeps us from touching?
The study says that because droplets that exist in an asymptomatic person's mouth can carry respiratory pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, "there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments," the authors wrote.
"This study builds on earlier research by the same team showing that speaking may factor into transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and adds support to the importance of wearing a mask, as recommended by the CDC, in potentially helping to slow the spread of the virus," a spokesperson the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases told USA TODAY.
Erin Bromage, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, recently published a blog post that went viral explaining the high-risk environments that could lead to COVID-19 infections.
The list includes workplaces, public transport, social gatherings, restaurants and a person's home, which account for 90% of the transmission events, Bromage writes.
"The reason to highlight these different outbreaks is to show you the commonality of outbreaks of COVID-19. All these infection events were indoors, with people closely-spaced, with lots of talking, singing, or yelling," Bromage writes, referring to the different cases he references that have occurred throughout the nation.
In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Bromage said there are certain spaces people should avoid as states reopen.
"Any workplace or any environment that is not maintaining a reasonable number of people, that doesn't have good airflow, where everything is being circulated, and if it's noisy, that is a spot where I'd say I don't need to be in here or I don't need to be in here that long," Bromage said.
Coronavirus, allergies or flu? Here's the difference between COVID-19 and other illnesses
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus social distancing: Closed spaces at high risk for spread