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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has reawakened the long-standing debate about the extent to which common respiratory viruses, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), are transmitted via respiratory droplets vs aerosols. Droplets are classically described as larger entities (>5 μm) that rapidly drop to the ground by force of gravity, typically within 3 to 6 feet of the source person. Aerosols are smaller particles (≤5 μm) that rapidly evaporate in the air, leaving behind droplet nuclei that are small enough and light enough to remain suspended in the air for hours (analogous to pollen).
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Corresponding Author: Michael Klompas, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Department of Population Medicine, 401 Park Dr, Ste 401, Boston, MA 02215 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: July 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12458
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Klompas reported receiving grants from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and receiving personal fees from UpToDate. No other disclosures were reported.
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