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Experts say COVID-19 is two to three times more contagious than flu, so the virus can spread rapidly from person to person from gatherings. Getty Images
  • Experts are noting examples across the country of how one social gathering such as a choir practice or a funeral can quickly spread COVID-19.
  • They note the illness caused by the novel coronavirus appears to be two to three times more contagious than the flu.
  • They add that early research indicates that people with COVID-19 may transmit the virus to two or three people before symptoms appear and they go into self-isolation.
  • The experts say this high infection rate is why social distancing and other preventive measures are important.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.

In Skagit County, Washington, 45 members of a 60-person choir rehearsal with COVID-19.

体育投注网址None had shown symptoms prior to attending rehearsal and there were no known cases in their county, despite people contracting the novel coronavirus in nearby Seattle.

体育投注网址In Austin, Texas, 28 out of 70 students who booked a plane to Mexico for a spring break trip .

体育投注网址Meanwhile, a town in Georgia where more than 200 mourners gathered to attend a funeral has become a viral hotspot, with dozens of relatives and attendees .

And a radio host who was covering the coronavirus quarantine in New Rochelle, New York, in early March hosted a 90th birthday party for her mother on March 8. She later for COVID-19. Since then, eight people who attended the party have come down with the illness, including both her parents. Two of the infected party attendees have died.

Each of these — and many other similar cases — highlights just how quickly COVID-19 can spread from even a relatively small gathering of people.

It also indicates how a case-free area can quickly become a viral epicenter.

from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call for canceling gatherings of more than 250 people in places without any reported cases and canceling events of any size where there’s substantial community spread of the disease.

, have yet to experience a confirmed case of COVID-19, it’s unlikely any community will escape the spread of the illness, experts say.

体育投注网址Relatively isolated communities are often not self-sufficient and that means they still receive supplies and contact from the outside world, said , ScD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University in Massachusetts and co-host of the .

In the absence of extensive and rigorous testing, that means the virus reaching these places is inevitable.

“Rural and remote communities may be protected in the short term because of the limited contact between them and other areas. However, we know from past outbreaks (including 1918 influenza, HIV, etc.) that widespread infectious diseases do reach remote and rural areas,” Murray told Healthline.

“When they do, these areas often suffer disproportionate death rates because of a lack of easy access to care, and interdependency among community members for essential services. For example, if an area has one doctor and she gets sick, that’s a very big deal.”

, MD, MPH, medical director at healthcare company Grand Rounds and a former member of the CDC’s Community Preventive Services Task Force.

体育投注网址In fact, a group of experts has Trump administration officials that talking and even breathing could spread the disease.

“Epidemiologists use the term R0 (R “naught”) to explain how contagious a virus is,” Ghosh told Healthline. “If a virus has an R0 of 1, that means each person [with the infection] can spread the disease to one other person. We’re still learning about the R0 of this new coronavirus, but some studies have suggested an R0 between 2 to 2.5 — meaning for every person [with the disease], approximately ‘two-ish’ people will contract the virus.”

Other studies put that number higher, closer to 3 or 3.5, she noted.

体育投注网址“Now let’s imagine that the first person [with the virus] stays at home and doesn’t interact with anyone. Then the virus doesn’t have the opportunity to [transmit to] three more people. Those three people don’t have the opportunity to [affect] nine more people,” Ghosh explained. “So social distancing (staying away from each other) interrupts the virus’s ability to spread and infect.”

体育投注网址“Right now, it’s the only tool we have to stop this spread because we don’t have a vaccine,” she noted.

That’s a big deal when a viable vaccine is likely more than a year away.

The CDC that all people wear cloth face masks in public places where it’s difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance from others.
This will help slow the spread of the virus from people without symptoms or people who do not know they have contracted the virus.
Cloth face masks should be worn while continuing to practice physical distancing. Instructions for making masks at home can be found .
Note: It’s critical to reserve surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers.

from the New York Times illustrates the spread of the disease when people began to stop traveling more than a couple of miles.

体育投注网址In places such as Florida and Louisiana, several pastors have continued to hold large congregations.

体育投注网址Local governments have been cracking down on such events.

The pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana, who has been defying Governor John Bel Edwards’ orders to end mass gatherings, was recently charged with for continuing to hold services.

体育投注网址“This is not an issue over religious liberty and it’s not about politics,” Central Police Department Chief Roger Corcoran told local TV station WAFB. “We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community’s leaders to set a positive example and follow the law.”

A Tampa, Florida, pastor was this week for similar reasons and charged with unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules.

Experts say these measures are necessary to preserve public health and curtail preventable deaths from the virus.

体育投注网址“We know that when people cough or sneeze, or when they sing or talk loudly, they produce little particles that can travel about 6 feet (or 2 meters) and can land on people or surfaces,” Murray explained. “These particles can be infectious for hours or days depending on where they land, and if someone touches them and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth, they can [contract the virus].”

体育投注网址“Large church services are a bad idea because it’s very unlikely that people will all be more than 6 feet apart and that no one will come into physical contact,” she added. “Choir practices and other singing events should be canceled because even being 6 feet apart might not be far enough.”

体育投注网址 have surfaced this week that 25 to 50 percent of people with COVID-19 don’t have noticeable symptoms and could be unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

体育投注网址“As long as there are asymptomatic people wandering around, transmission to others will continue to occur,” , PhD, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, South Carolina, told Healthline.

体育投注网址One way to limit transmission of the virus from those who are asymptomatic would be rigorous testing of the entire population, a capacity the United States has not yet accomplished.

体育投注网址“[With SARS], the thing that really helped with that was really testing and tracking and contact tracing to identify who is sick, who has been exposed to them, who needs to be locked down. And in the U.S., even once we knew that we had cases [of COVID-19], we weren’t doing that because we didn’t have the testing capability,” Murray said. “And so, without being able to test people, we couldn’t lock down people who might be infected or infectious and everything kind of proceeded as normal. Given the testing situation, I think it would have been appropriate to say all mass gatherings should be canceled because we have no idea whether COVID is here or in what quantity.”

That makes self-quarantine if you’re sick, self-isolation if you have come in contact with someone who is sick, and social distancing if you’re otherwise healthy all the more important, she said.

We’ll likely have to continue to do this in some measure or another until a vaccine is developed.

体育投注网址“As soon as you stop these social distancing type things you run the risk of starting up a whole new chain of infection,” she said.