As winter approaches, America is adapting to the declining number of jawbones in the novel Coronavirus Infection. More than 288,000 Americans have been killed by the virus. Public health officials now say it can be transmitted over the air.
The virus is usually spread through close contact, scientists say. In some special cases, people over six feet away may be infected by exposure to small droplets and particles emitted by an infected person. Said in October. Those droplets and particles can stay in the air for minutes to hours.
To visually capture the dangers of live airborne transmission, the Washington Post used a military-grade infrared camera. Many experts – epidemiologists, virologists, and engineers – have supported the idea of using the breath as a conservative proxy to show transmission potential in a variety of settings.
Rajat Mittal, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medical and Engineering and an expert in transmitting the virus, said: “Getting two people and really visualizing what’s going on between them is invaluable.”
A highly sensitive camera system detects variations in infrared radiation that are invisible to the naked eye. The technology is commonly used in military and industrial settings, such as the detection of methane gas leaks in pipelines. In 2013, law enforcement deployed 20 hours of human rights time for the Boston Marathon suicide bombers.
But the camera, which is equipped with a filter that specifically targets the infrared signature of carbon dioxide, can be used to live map the partial path of the almost invisible particles we breathe.
According to experts, the footage reduces the risk of exposure to airborne particles. The particles may extend farther than the visible respiratory plume, or they may spread rapidly to a concentration that the camera cannot detect.
Environmental factors such as ventilation, wind and sunlight in space can be reduced, as well as behavioral factors such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distance. The risk of exposure also increases when people do not wear masks and stand together in a closed or ventilated area.
Many of those situations will become commonplace as Americans spend more time indoors in the coming months. Watch the video at the top of the page to see the footage from various settings.