Prolonged exposure to COVID-19 increases risk of infection

Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter explains

Kenny Kuhn
May 23, 2020 - 12:06 am
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Much is still being studied about the characteristics of COVID-19. How is it spread? Does it live for a period of time on hard surfaces? Are there currently effective drugs?

Assistant State Health Officer with the Louisiana Department of Health, Dr. Joseph Kanter says some studies suggest the risk of contracting coronavirus has more to do with the amount of time a person is exposed to an infected person.

“I think about this choir event that the CDC reported on one or two weeks ago, you can imagine someone who is sick, symptomatic, and infectious in the choir, just singing to the top of their lungs, into the room… and the number of respiratory droplets that get projected out there,” Kanter said on Newell Normand’s show Thursday. “It is a matter of volume and one tiny virus particle won’t infect you but a billion will.”

He says the question of where the line is drawn is one science hasn’t yet answered.

“But when we think about what constitutes a close contact, we think about how far they are from you, we typically say six feet even though that is not hard and fast, but we also talk about time.” He says the longer you are exposed to the virus determines if you will contract the virus.

“We say six feet and within more than ten or 15 minutes or so, both of those things combined to how much viral exposure we think someone is going to get,” said Kanter. “Passing somebody on the street or jogging past someone, that is not a big risk. But jogging with someone for an hour on a track when you are really close to them probably is a risk so you have to factor in both the distance and time.”

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