How long does COVID hang around in the air?

Infection and Spread Infectious Diseases

A: There is a range, but generally speaking, COVID can hang around in the air for hours.

When a person exhales, they release “particles” of various sizes. When the person is infected with COVID-19, those particles will contain the contagious virus. Particles come in all sorts of sizes, from microscopic to visible. The largest fall quickly, within seconds to minutes. But the smallest, “aerosol” particles can stay in the air for hours.

Whether or not you actually get infected in a space that has been “infected” with COVID has a lot to do with other factors as well, including how well-ventilated the space is and how close you were to the person emitting the particles. In addition, the ability of the virus particles to survive in the air depends on other environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.

If you know someone with COVID has been in an indoor space you need to use, in addition to wearing a mask, you can try some of these ventilation techniques:

❇️ Open windows and doors to allow for cross-ventilation.

❇️ Place a fan in an open window to allow for virus particles to move outside.

❇️ Turn on the exhaust fan in your kitchen and bathroom.

❇️ If you have an HVAC system, set the fan to “on” instead of “auto” to allow for your fan to run continuously, even if you are not using air conditioning or heating.

If you can, stay away from the potentially infectious space for as long as possible. Always wear your mask and try to reduce the number of people with exposure to the area.

Stay safe and stay well!

Those Nerdy Girls

Additional Resources:

EPA information on indoor spread of COVID-19

New Jersey Health Department information on indoor transmission of COVID-19

Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines on improving ventilation

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