To the editor:
As you may know, COVID-19 transmission is exploding across the country. I am not convinced that state or CDC guidelines are sufficient to reduce virus transmission.
Cold weather increases the transmission of COVID–19 in several ways. First, by possibly suppressing the immune response in the nostrils. The virus is also viable longer and reproduces better in the cold. We have less ultraviolet light from the sun which kills the virus and produces vitamin D. Finally, when the humidity gets below 40%, the virus dehydrates, is smaller and lighter and travels farther than six feet and builds up aerosols in interior spaces.
The six feet social distancing doesn’t work anymore with humidity below 40%.
All of these factors mean that it takes less exposure to get infected and there is a need to mitigate the buildup of the virus aerosols inside buildings through HEPA filters, UVC light 222 nm or 255 nm or a significant increase in outside air. With higher occupancies in confined spaces over time, even a person wearing a mask may be infected.
The simpler fix is to humidify the air inside buildings for a minimum of 40% and still use social distancing and lower quality masks. At six feet with humidity below 40%, both persons would need to wear masks and the type of mask may make a difference. N95 or Kn95 masks reduce inhalation of smaller virus particles – this may reduce infections per clinical studies.
I recommend that restaurants and bars close indoor seating or make it extremely sparse with partitions dividing people into bubbles and rely on outdoor and curbside pickup unless they have the technology to mitigate aerosol buildup like the Silver Diner.
Even with outdoor seating, care needs to be given to make sure bubbles of people are separated by partitions so there is not a direct line from a person’s mouth in one bubble and a person’s mouth in another bubble.
-Chris Hubbard, Alexandria