For months now, health experts have known that indoor gatherings have been disproportionately responsible for coronavirus outbreaks across the country. As a prime example, contact tracing data from New York recently showed that three-quarters of new COVID cases in the state could be traced back to household gatherings. The study further showed that you’re 10 times more likely to catch COVID-19 indoors than anywhere else.
There are two main reasons why indoor gatherings can be a breeding ground for coronavirus transmission. For one, people indoors — especially when at their own home or a friend’s house — sometimes have a false sense of security and, in turn, become more lenient when it comes to mask-wearing and social distancing. Second, studies have shown that the coronavirus spreads more easily in indoor settings with poor air circulation.
As an illustrative point, recall that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan last summer said that 67% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the state indicated that they had attended a family gathering or house party before their positive diagnosis.
In light of the above, the CDC this week took to Twitter and stressed the importance of improved ventilation in schools and in homes. Even something as simple as opening up a window can help improve air circulation and lessen the likelihood of catching the coronavirus.
Along with wearing masks & staying 6 ft apart, increased ventilation can help reduce spread of #COVID19 in schools. Open windows, use portable air cleaners, & improve building-wide filtration to increase ventilation when possible. Learn more: https://t.co/EuSX3miaad. pic.twitter.com/oJdTSxuuEQ
— CDC (@CDCgov) March 1, 2021
In a similar vein, Dr. Fauci earlier this year suggested that people should invest in HEPA filters for their homes. “I’m making a suggestion,” Fauci said during an interview last January, “but one of the things that you should consider, is you know there are these HEPA filters that they have in the planes which makes the airline industry safe.
“I think good airflow and HEPA filters can work,” Fauci went on to say. “It’s not a big deal to make investments in some industrial-sized HEPA filters for theaters. I bought a couple for my own house, you know it was like $49 on Amazon. You know it wasn’t a big deal.”
Recently, the CDC released a study that showed that major coronavirus outbreaks in Chicago and Hawaii could be traced back to gym classes held in rooms with poor ventilation. Additionally, it’s no surprise that the number of coronavirus cases in the US started to surge immediately after the Christmas holiday that saw millions of Americans travel home to visit friends and family. Suffice it to say, ensuring proper air circulation should be taken as seriously as mask-wearing and social distancing.
Meanwhile, the effort to vaccinate the majority of the US population continues to pick up steam. The US is now averaging about 2 million vaccine doses per day, a figure that may rise significantly higher once Pfizer and Moderna boost their vaccine shipments as promised. This, coupled with the arrival of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, could help the US achieve herd immunity before summer in a best-case scenario.