TRENTON, NJ – DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz has explained in detail that COVID-19 particles eject from a person’s body at a much higher rate when you are singing and shouting or in close quarters with another person.
“Briefly, this is what has to happen in order for somebody to become sick. Somebody who has that virus that lives in their nose or the back of the throat or down into their lungs has to put that out in the environment in such a way that you can come into contact with it,” Lifshitz said. “Some of those ways are very obvious that somebody goes and sneezes or coughs. They’re spewing out these big particles, you can see these particles. They are spewing them out and they’re traveling a certain distance, almost always less than six feet, which is where that six-feet rule comes from. But smaller particles are also coming out. They’re coming out every time anybody speaks. They’re coming out more so if you’re singing or shouting. They’re also coming out, to some extent, even just from your breathing.”
Lifshitz said those bigger particles, land to the ground pretty quickly, but they end up on surfaces.
“That’s why we say be careful about touching surfaces, wash your hands and so forth if you do touch surfaces, and that’s what’s known as droplets,” he said. “You don’t see them all, but their big and they’re relatively heavy and they come out of the air pretty quickly.”
However, some of those smaller particles, particularly ones that tend to be generated from things like speaking or other things, may last in the air for longer periods of time and may be able to float in the air longer. Exactly how much of that happens with the virus that causes COVID versus other viruses isn’t known for sure.
“We still believe that the major means of transmission is those bigger droplets, but it is believed that at least some of this illness is likely caused by some of these viruses that are floating in the air for longer periods of time,” he said. “And as the Governor mentioned, that becomes more of an issue the closer people are together. It’s why it becomes even more important to try to maintain social distancing and as he said, many, many times to continue to wear the face coverings whenever you are around other people who might potentially become infected by you.”