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Doing this one simple thing while wearing a face mask could help end the pandemic

Published Sep 2nd, 2020 4:32PM EDT
Coronavirus update
Image: Darren Baker/Adobe
  • The regular coronavirus update we get from one day to the next tends to include reminders about actions we can take to protect our own health and the health of others, like social distancing and wearing a face mask.
  • Health experts are starting to remind people that there’s also a simple activity we can do to complement wearing a face mask that can help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
  • That activity is controlling our speaking volume and not talking loudly around others — which can spread coronavirus particles.

At this point, most of the coronavirus updates we get these days come with reminders of the basic actions we can take to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that everyone should already be aware of by now. Social distancing, avoiding crowds, and wearing face masks are those actions at the top of the list, and universally regarded as such by health experts — but don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s nothing else you can do to help curb the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Indeed, experts also point to one simple action we should all be taking along with things like wearing face masks in public. Those experts include Jose Jimenez, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies disease transmission, and who recently told The Atlantic that we all need to stop talking so loudly.

Sounds simple and maybe even borderline silly, right? But it’s true and linked to the fact that talking loudly raises the chance of you spreading viral particles from your mouth to people around you. “Every route of viral transmission would go down if we talked less, or talked less loudly, in public spaces,” Jimenez said. “This is just a very clear fact. It’s not controversial.”

Don’t forget, it’s not just talking loudly. For other examples of this same kind of thing in action, even the CDC in one study has found that an activity like singing in a group like a church choir has the potential to spread viral droplets. That’s because people are singing loud, projecting their voices, that kind of thing. The CDC’s study took a look at one church choir in particular, finding that after a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 people, including a “symptomatic index patient,” 32 confirmed coronavirus cases emerged as did 20 “probably secondary COVID-19 cases.” Three patients were hospitalized and two died.

“Transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity (within 6 feet) during practice and augmented by the act of singing,” the CDC’s study notes.

For additional proof, on the other side of the equation, there’s also research that proves the opposite — that talking quietly correlates to a lower coronavirus risk level. That’s according to a study on social distancing and its effects published in the medical journal The BMJ.

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that there have now been more than 6 million coronavirus cases in the US found thus far, in addition to more than 185,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Hopefully, more people embracing these simple actions can help to bring the increases in those metrics to a halt.

Andy Meek
Andy Meek Trending News Reporter

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.