"Say it, don't spray it."
The old adage is now being welcomed by experts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Research analyzed by The Atlantic suggests that speaking quietly or not at all can drastically reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19.
The virus spreads mainly through particles that come out of our nose and mouth when we sneeze, cough, sing, and – you guessed it – talk. These particles fall on nearby surfaces or linger in the air, waiting to be inhaled by passers-by. Wearing a mask acts as a barrier between these potentially virus-laden particles and the people around you. However, speaking softly will drastically reduce the amount of particles being forced into the air.
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences in June, researchers recorded volunteers while they were speaking a sentence. Their data concluded that loud speakers were more likely to spit out more droplets that could potentially contain COVID-19 than their soft-speaking counterparts.
Disease transmission specialist Jose L. Jimenez, PhD of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told The Atlantic, “People need to understand that this virus is in the air and that when they scream, they exhale or exhale ten times more virus speak loudly. "
According to Dr. Jiminez is 98% less likely to transfer airborne particles by remaining completely still than by speaking at a loud volume. When you whisper and speak softly, you are 80% less likely to spread these droplets. That said, speaking quieter – or not at all – can be almost as effective as masks at helping slow the spread of COVID-19.
"The truth is that if everyone stopped talking for a month or two, the pandemic would likely die away," said Dr. Jimenez.
The next time you're chatting with a friend or dining outside, keep your voice low. It could help keep those around you safe.