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Is coronavirus (COVID-19) airborne? Is it safe to pass others on sidewalk?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus, so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

Is coronavirus airborne?

A viewer from Detroit asked, “Is coronavirus airborne as well? Can you contract it from just being outside (with) no one else around you?”

A related question came from a viewer in Shelby Township: “I have been walking outside. Occasionally I pass others walking or running on the same piece of street or sidewalk. I give wide berth, however, I return to walking on the same path, which means I will be walking right into where they just were. If they are contagious but not showing symptoms, how long would a droplet remain in the air?”

UPDATE -- March 26, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases total 2,856; Death toll rises to 60

Yes, the virus can be transmitted by droplets, and even finer aerosol in shorter distances. That’s why we are using a six-foot distancing rule.

Being outdoors, where the air is constantly moving and being replaced by fresh air, is even safer.

It’s a similar idea to why doctors use negative pressure rooms in the hospital. They pull potentially contaminated air out of the room so it doesn’t go into other areas.

Flattening the curve

Another viewer asked, “With consideration to the state shutdown and trying to lessen the infection rate, will this just prolong some people from contracting the virus? Is it possible another spike will happen after the shutdown ends with people who are currently not infected?”

MORE: Michigan has new reporting system for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing data

This is a very important point. Yes, it’s absolutely possible that when people come back into close contact, we could see a resurgence in viral activity.

Right now, as China is relaxing its social distancing, health experts are watching closely to see if they have a renewed spike.


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