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The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak vividly demonstrates the burden that respiratory infectious diseases impose in an intimately connected world. Unprecedented containment and mitigation policies have been implemented in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, including travel restrictions, screening and testing of travelers, isolation and quarantine, and school closures.
A key goal of such policies is to decrease the encounters between infected individuals and susceptible individuals and decelerate the rate of transmission. Although such social distancing strategies are critical in the current time of pandemic, it may seem surprising that the current understanding of the routes of host-to-host transmission in respiratory infectious diseases are predicated on a model of disease transmission developed in the 1930s that, by modern standards, seems overly simplified. Implementing public health recommendations based on these older models may limit the effectiveness of the proposed interventions.
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Corresponding Author: Lydia Bourouiba, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 (email@example.com).
Published Online: March 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4756
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: Dr Bourouiba reported receiving research support from the Smith Family Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Policy Lab, the MIT Reed Fund, and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development chair at MIT.
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the preparation, review or approval of the manuscript and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
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