New study reveals more about how coronavirus can be spread by talking

Posted at 10:40 PM, May 14, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new study details how just talking in a confined space could spread the coronavirus.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, scientists found the droplets that leave people's mouths as they speak can stay in the air for between 8 to 14 minutes in a closed space with stagnant airflow. Researchers used laser light to track the droplets, according to the study.

For Lexington Doctor Erin Cooper, who owns Olive Health Direct Primary Care, the findings help her answer some common questions from her patients.

"I have a lot of patients who ask me, 'Hey do you really think I need to wear a mask when I go to the grocery store? Is it really that important when I'm out in public?'"

A mask my not be necessary outdoors, she said, where droplets dissipate more quickly, but inside they could make a big difference.

"If I'm wearing a mask, my droplets are contained behind that mask when I'm speaking to you and then also it protects me from your droplets," Cooper explained. "But if we're both wearing a mask then that adds that extra layer of protection because your droplets are contained to you, mine are contained to me."

Dr. Cooper also referenced a choir practice in Washington where one infected person spread the virus to dozens of people. The practice has been used as an example by the CDC to show how easily the virus can spread.

"Wearing of the masks really makes a difference," she said.