Christine McCormick 3/1/21 12:11 PM 7 min read

Airborne Transmission and COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread, infecting hundreds of thousands of people across the United States, experts are trying to find infection control methods that can reduce the impact of the virus.

 

In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, it is important to understand how this virus is transmitted.

TYPES OF COVID-19 TRANSMISSION

Since the first confirmed cases of coronavirus, there has been confusion surrounding the ways through which COVID can be spread. At the beginning of the pandemic, many believed that the virus could only be transmitted through surfaces and direct contact with infected individuals. Since then, the CDC has found and acknowledged that COVID can be transmitted through other means as well, including through aerosols [1].

There are a few types of transmission, some more common than others:

  • Close contact with infected individuals. When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, talk, or breathe, they produce respiratory droplets that can cause infection when inhaled or when they come in contact with the mouth, nose, or eyes [2]. It is easier for these respiratory droplets to infect someone who is within 6 feet of an individual with COVID.

  • Contaminated surfaces. While this is rare, COVID-19 can be spread when an individual touches infectious droplets that land on different surfaces or objects and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.

  • Airborne transmission. Even when an individual is not within 6 feet of someone who has the virus, they can still have a risk for COVID-19 due to airborne transmission. This occurs when infectious droplets and particles linger in the air, sometimes for minutes to hours after the infected individual has left the area [2].

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AIRBORNE TRANSMISSION

Although airborne transmission is just one of the ways that COVID-19 is transmitted between individuals, it is important that individuals, particularly those who work in areas where there is an increased likelihood for airborne transmission, are aware of the nature of how this airborne disease is spread.

Airborne transmission typically occurs in enclosed areas with poor ventilation, especially in places where people are engaged in normal activities that produce more respiratory droplets like singing, yelling, or exercising [1] as well as AGPs in hospitals like nebulizer treatments or intubation. These droplets can remain airborne for anywhere from minutes to hours, infecting people who enter the room for hours to come.

In order to reduce the risk of contracting COVID through airborne transmission, it is important for individuals to continue practicing social distancing, wearing masks and other respiratory protection, and avoiding areas with poor ventilation. However, this is often easier said than done in every day life and nearly impossible in places like hospitals.

In places like hospitals where it is impossible for healthcare workers and patients to social distance, the risk for COVID-19 is high. As the number of infected patients are higher than the AIIRs available, the infectious particulates are free to spread throughout the air as they wait in a room for treatment or are transported through the hospital. All the while, healthcare workers are putting themselves at risk to care for infected (or suspected) patients with their PPE being the only line of defense.

Hospitals also face personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, and healthcare workers in hospitals across the nation have to reuse PPE or wear decontaminated PPE when treating patients, further increasing their risk for contracting the virus.

Healthcare facilities full of staff and patients are at high risk for COVID and are desperately in need of solutions to reduce airborne transmission.

 

PREVENTING AIRBORNE TRANSMISSION

Now that the CDC has recognized that COVID is airborne and the virus can spread through infectious particles and droplets in the air, hospitals need new approaches to infectious disease protocol in order to improve infection prevention. As of now, the protocols for infectious disease require healthcare providers to put an infected patient in an AIIR (Airborne Infection Isolation Room) but as we saw in the middle of a pandemic, each hospital maybe has a handful of these rooms and the patient need was in extremely high demand. Preventing airborne transmission in hospital settings was next to impossible. Healthcare workers were left unprotected and families were torn apart.

Medical solutions like the SCONE brings the benefits of an AIIR directly to the patient to help combat the airborne transmission of COVID-19 in hospitals to keep healthcare workers safe while they care for COVID patients, provide safer transport within hospitals and also provide the possibility for family visits.

The SCONE serves as an active barrier of protection, using negative pressure technology to clear infectious aerosols and droplets in under five minutes and preventing these droplets from infecting the ambient air.

We believe we can do better for the future of infection prevention and we would love to provide your facility with a free sample.

Request a Free Sample for Your Facility

 

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Christine McCormick

Christine McCormick is an Operations and Marketing Manager with 10 years of experience working alongside and supporting leadership teams from various industries. She is new to the medical device space but brings a wealth of organizational, financial, and marketing expertise to SCONE in her current role. She was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and graduated with a Bachelors from Northern Arizona University and currently lives with her high school sweetheart and their 3 children, ages 6-12 years old. She enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach and Disneyland (when it's open), and watching Grey's Anatomy on repeat.