Men transmit COVID-19 particles more than women or children, and singing and cheering in indoor venues is likely to facilitate the spread of coronavirus.
These are some of the findings of a monthslong study at Colorado State University (CSU) that focused on tracking the spread of COVID-19 in performing-arts settings.
“COVID shut the performing arts down almost overnight,” said Dan Goble, director of CSU’s School of Music, Theater and Dance. “It wasn’t just a CSU problem, this was a national problem. Think about all the public-school bands, choirs, and orchestras.”
Goble partnered with John Volckens, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, to conduct the study, CBS reported.
More than 75 different people participated in the study, which was held in a chamber used for testing airborne particles. Subjects were of different ages and skill sets. Some had to sing songs like “Happy Birthday” repetitively. Others performed songs on instruments.
“Singing definitely emits more particles than talking,” Volckens said, CBS reported.
“Adults tend to emit more particles than children,” Volckens said. “The reason men tend to emit more particles is because we have bigger lungs.”
People who speak more loudly spread the virus more easily, Volckens said.
“The volume of your voice is an indicator of how much energy you’re putting into your voice box. That energy translates to more particles coming out of your body.”
Loud enclosed places like bars, sports arenas, and concert venues can facilitate high levels of spread. But a ballet concert, with intermittent applause, may be safer than a concert venue with thousands of screaming or singing fans. Having proper ventilation at indoor arts venues is crucial.
Broadway theaters have reopened now, requiring masks and proof of vaccinations.
“The performing arts did the right thing by shutting down in 2020, they definitely saved lives. Because we know now, when you sing or talk at a loud volume, you produce more particles,” Volckens said.
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