You just walk into a big box store, and someone at the back of the store is having a nice conversation with their SO. That person happens to have COVID, and isn’t wearing a mask. Did he just infect everyone in the store?
There is no simple answer to this. I mean, technically the opportunity is there. But, are you likely to catch the coronavirus? Probably not just from that one person who stays a store distance away from you, and here is why.
We know that the coronavirus is spread through “respiratory droplets released in the air.”
You can definitely catch COVID by someone breathing and talking, but there is a only minute chance if you keep a proper distance.
Let’s say you are outside, six feet or more away from the person who is talking. Being outside in the fresh air and wide open space mean that the small amount of respiratory droplets from simple talking can disapate, and you most likely are safe from coronavirus.
If you are inside a small closed room, say a a meeting room at work, and you are there for a few hours, the chances of catching COVID increase. Why? Well, there isn’t such a big space for the respiratory particles to disperse, and the chances are much greater that you may breath in these droplets.
Now, let’s split the difference. Let’s say you aren’t outside, but you also aren’t in a closed in small space; you are in a big box store. Well, obviously, there isn’t as much space for the droplets to dispate as there would be if you were outside, BUT there is more room for the droplets to disperse than if you were in a tiny room.
If you just go in, do your shopping, and come out, chances are probably small that you will catch the coronavirus.
You know who IS at a greater risk? The employee who stays in the store all day. There is a higher chance that they can breathe in those repiratory droplets over time. There isn’t fresh air to sweep those particles away, so they stay lingering in the air. The longer a person is exposed, the greater chance they can get the virus.
By the same means, big groups of people — say a rally or a concert — spells danger. You are most likely in this big group of people for a longer periods of time, and therefore, your chances of catching COVID increase.
Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells troubleErin Bromage, Ph.D., comparative immunologist and professor of biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Quite simply, the amount of time you spend in a place or environment where the virus is lingering can be a huge determinant on whether or not you will get sick.Yahoo Life
If you are worried about your risk when you head out into public, you should ask yourself a few questions: How many people are going to be at your location? Is there plenty of airflow? How long are you going to be in the environment?
All of these are factors that can increase the likelihood of you catching the coronavirus.
And, for goodness sake, wear your mask. This protects others AND yourself from the droplets in the air.