We’re ignoring one of the most obvious ways to avoid spreading the coronavirus: stop talking so much

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More than half a year into our global viral catastrophe, it’s become clear that being within spitting distance of other people is a potentially dangerous activity.

We’ve seen how singing can send the coronavirus soaring into others’ bodies. Shouting in bars can move the virus around among a crowd of people, too. 

In short, one of the very things that makes us human — talking to communicate our feelings and ideas — can now be considered a deadly threat, loaded up with potentially infectious virus particles.

The louder the communication, the more risky it is. Much like coughing, any kind of yelling, laughing, or singing can project infectious bits of virus into the air towards others, launching those particles further than quieter tones. 

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic went so far as to recently recommend that perhaps we should “shut up” almost entirely when out in public right now.

“It makes sense to encourage quiet talking, or even whispering” during a pandemic, epidemiologist Saskia Popescu told Insider in an email, though she stressed that being quiet should never be considered a substitute for wearing masks, socially distancing, and avoiding crowds.

But don’t start shushing your neighbors. Verbal communication is a vital way to keep us healthy at an otherwise isolating time, according to linguist Deborah Tannen. We just have to do it safely. 

Speech can propel virus particles into the air that linger there for several minutes

Talking loudly is dangerous because it projects more spit into the air. 

When we communicate verbally, we release both large, heavy droplets and tiny aerosols of gunk that are smaller and can stay aloft longer in the air. The more forceful the spray, the likelier it is to waft over to someone else, entering their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Scientists still don’t know exactly how big of a dose of the coronavirus it may take to get us sick, but it’s generally accepted that the more virus we’re exposed to, the more at risk we are of developing infection, and the sicker we may become.

  Instagram is building a messaging API to help brands manage their DMs with users (FB)

This means that just as not all interactions carry the same amount of risk, not all talking is created equal, either. Keeping a distance from the people you’re chatting with, and avoiding yelling and spitting when you converse is key, but not everyone is accustomed to this. 

As a New Yorker, Tannen says her own speech mannerisms may be especially dangerous. 

“Shorter pauses, standing closer, speaking more loudly, being more relatively direct, talking about more personal topics, getting to the point more quickly, all those things go together,” the linguistics professor at Georgetown University and author of the forthcoming book “Finding My Father,” said.

“I call it a high-involvement style, that you show you’re a good person by emphasizing your involvement or connection to other people, as compared to a high-considerateness style, where you show you’re a good person by not imposing on other people.” 

The amount of spit we swap is not just determined by volume and proximity to …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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