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Los Poblanos Inn, Albuquerque, NM

New Thinking on Covid-Safe Spaces

Infection specialists are now more concerned about airborne spread of coronavirus than surface-based spread, and advising venues to adapt their efforts accordingly.

Ten months into the Covid pandemic, doctors and scientists are getting a better understanding of how Covid-19 spreads and the ways that the spread can be minimized. In fact, some of them are suggesting that people who are responsible for keeping others safe from Covid transmission in public spaces—such as those coordinating small to mid-size in-person business events—focus more on ensuring indoor spaces have ample air ventilation and filtration than on keeping every surface in a gathering space sterile.

In a recent article in the New York Times,
infection specialists emphasized that scrubbing surfaces does little to mitigate the virus threat indoors, and they are urging health officials to turn their efforts more towards improving the exchange and filtering of indoor air. Their assertions are backed by evidence from previous viral outbreaks such as SARS, and by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has determined that infectious respiratory droplets are the “principal mode” through which Covid-19 spreads.

One of the more notable comments in the article: “In my opinion, a lot of time, energy, and money is being wasted on surface disinfection and, more importantly, diverting attention and resources away from preventing airborne transmission,” said Dr. Kevin P. Fennelly, a respiratory infection specialist with the United States National Institutes of Health.

Even so, the act of washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using sanitizer in the absence of soap is still encouraged by doctors and scientists to minimize the virus’s spread.

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