May 27, 2020 — Something has been bothering Kimberly Prather, PhD: Everything she reads about COVID-19 points to a pathogen that travels through the air.
There’s how quickly it has spread around the world, studies showing how it spreads through restaurants (maybe by the air conditioning system?), how it attacked a church choir even though they were spread apart while they were singing, how it seems to spread like wildfire on planes and on cruise ships; all of this, she says, Prather should know. She studies aerosols — particles so tiny they float freely through the air, traveling feet or even miles. She runs a large, government-funded research center at the University of California San Diego to study how viruses and other things that come out of the ocean float through the air.
“A lot of the evidence has been pointing to aerosol transmission of respiratory viruses,” she says. Influenza can be passed through the air, as can the virus that causes SARS. “This particular virus, a lot of evidence is mounting.”