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This Is the #1 Way You'll Catch Coronavirus, Warn Scientists

Protect yourself by stopping the spread.
people with face masks back at work in office after lockdown, talking

As your city reopens, you're washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer after touching every ATM button—but you may be making one major mistake. The Wall Street Journal studied the common consensus among scientists and reports today: "It's not common to contract COVID-19 from a contaminated surface, scientists say. And fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus. Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods."

Making things worse: "Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly—or singing, in one famous case—maximize the risk."

It Enters Through Your Face, They Confirm

"Here's the problem: COVID-19 is spread by close physical contact," says Dr. Deborah Lee, a medical writer with Dr. Fox Online. "This includes holding hands, hugging and kissing, but also standing close to one another. The virus is transmitted in exhaled respiratory droplets and is also present in nasopharyngeal secretions. It also lives in the skin—for example on fingertips and under fingernails. It can enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth."

She says in order to get back to "normal," we must keep the "R number" down. "The risk of transmission of the virus, whether due to the average day-to-day risk or to the close physical contact during a sexual encounter, is governed by the R number," she says. "The R number is the number of people each person infects before they know they have the virus."

Keeping the R number down means the exponential spread of the infection within the community is halted and the infection is under control. "So, your risk of encountering the virus is much lower," says Dr. Lee. "We can only help keep the R number down by following the government's advice of staying at home where possible, frequent hand-washing, social distancing and self-isolation."

Not to mention, wearing face masks.

Even Speaking and Breathing Can Be Dangerous

The Journal goes on to report that: "Health agencies have so far identified respiratory-droplet contact as the major mode of COVID-19 transmission. These large fluid droplets can transfer virus from one person to another if they land on the eyes, nose or mouth. But they tend to fall to the ground or on other surfaces pretty quickly," and continue: "One important factor in transmission is that seemingly benign activities like speaking and breathing produce respiratory bits of varying sizes that can disperse along air currents and potentially infect people nearby. Some researchers say the new coronavirus can also be transmitted through aerosols, or minuscule droplets that float in the air longer than large droplets. These aerosols can be directly inhaled."

So: stay six feet away from others, wear a face mask and follow the CDC guidelines for staying safe. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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