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COVID-19 can float on air droplets, contributing to rise in cases, experts say

While masks can help slow the rate of COVID-19 infection, information coming to light could also help slow the spread.

Many in the medical community now say that microscopic respiratory droplets that can stay in the air for hours or for days have contributed to the rapid growth in cases. They’re calling on the World Health Organization to take action.

“The 20th of March, that Friday, we get the next notice that we were closing, we’re closing the restaurant,” said Joe Reichard with The Lighthouse Grill in Englewood.

Now, the restaurant is back open and doing well.

“We’ve been exceptionally busy relative to prior times. We had about a 20 percent increase in sales.”

New information on how the coronavirus spreads could hurt restaurants once again.

“There’s just plenty of evidence that aerosols are really a major source of spread,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

“Aerosols can hang out in the air for much longer and they can go further than six feet.”

Jha said the scientific community agrees that the virus spreads through tiny aerosolized droplets, and because those droplets can stick around so long, it can make large indoor gatherings dangerous,  Jha said.

“Indoor gatherings of any size in Florida right now are very risky certainly if people are not wearing masks, but even with wearing masks, I don’t know that it’s particularly safe.”

For a lot of restaurants, that could mean closing their doors – again – but for The Lighthouse Grill, “Not only are we 100% outdoors, but we’re right on Lemon Bay – which has got a beautiful bay breeze that blows into the restaurant and keeps the air fresh and circulated,” Reichard said.

Jha said to avoid another safer-at-home order, aggressive actions need to be taken now, like a statewide mask mandate and a way to enforce it.

This doesn’t only impact restaurants. Scientists say COVID-19 can spread in any enclosed environment, which is why it’s important for everyone to wear masks.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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