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Dr. Fauci Warns You Can Catch COVID—Even From Far Away

These droplets hang in the air instead of falling to the ground.
woman sneezing with spray and small drops

Since COVID-19 first appeared, scientists have been scrambling to understand the highly complex virus, including exactly how it is spread. For several months the CDC warned that it was primarily spread from person-to-person via small respiratory droplets and also could be transmitted by coming into physical contact with it via the droplets. However, over the last few months there has been increasing evidence that the virus is airborne. In a new interview with Wired, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, confirms that you should definitely be afraid of aerosol particles. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

The Particles Hang in the Air

Dr. Fauci explains that aerosol refers to droplets that come from the respiratory tract, but unlike larger droplets that fall to the ground within a few feet "that accounts for the six foot distance recommendation" — they linger. 

"There are particles that are small enough or in an area, when you look at the dynamics of airflow, they don't just drop. They hang around for a while for several seconds to minutes so that you don't have that kind of a dynamic where all you need to do is to stay distant," he explained, adding that is where masks become so important — especially when indoors. 

"So the idea that there are aerosols, when you talk to the aerosol physicists who study this, there seems to be no question that an element of the transmission is aerosol," he stated. 

"When you look at some of the episodes, logical studies, such as in a restaurant where you have people seated far away from each other, who could not have been in the range of a droplet, that is going to be close enough to transmit who've actually gotten infected. Which is an epidemiological strong suggestion that there is aerosol spread."

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There is an Element of Transition

While Fauci confirms that the virus is being transmitted via aerosol, he does not believe it is the primary way it is spread. 

"What we don't know is, to what proportion of what level of impact aerosol plays in transmission," he continued. "It is likely that it is not the major form of transmission, that the major form is still that droplet type of transmission from person-to-person in close contact. But the data that I see, I believe pretty confidently that there is some element — I can't tell you if it's 2%, 5%, 10% — but there is an element of aerosol transmission, which I don't think is the dominant form of transmission."

As for yourself, wear your face mask, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.