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FIU's Dr. Aileen Marty On New Studies Suggesting COVID-19 Is Aerosolized And The Obesity Factor

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – We know COVID-19 is highly contagious, but there are some new studies that have found evidence the virus can remain suspended in the air in aerosol particles, according to Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease specialist at Florida International University.

"We've done some studies here in the United States and found that there is some aerosolized virus that is recoverable that can be isolated and is alive. But what just came out yesterday was a large study from a hospital in Wu Han, where they also identified viral particles and they did it by polymerase chain reaction in aerosols, and so the concern is that this virus is traveling in air a lot further than was originally suspected," said Dr. Marty. "WHO spoke about one-meter distance, CDC about two meters distance, but this type of information means that really becomes important, especially those of us who don't know if they are carrying the virus to be wearing masks to reduce the risk to others when we speak, because when we speak, if we are carrying that virus in our respiratory system, we can aerosolize it apparently, as per this study."

Dr. Marty added, "What is it very important to take into consideration, again, is the infectious dose. And that's something we still have to find out is whether in an aerosolized form of this virus, other people are acquiring what we call an infectious dose enough of a dose of that virus to end up getting sick or severely sick in hospital. So that's the next part that we have to do. Another thing that we're doing because of that, is we're looking right now about whether or not we open restaurants and hotels, we're talking about in certain types of spaces having to use negative pressure devices so that if the if the room cannot be otherwise ventilated, you can get rid of virus that's in the air that way."

Research also shows obesity puts people at a higher risk for complications should you contract coronavirus.

"In many of the ICU's, we're noticing that independent of any other risk factor cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, underlying respiratory disease, cancer, immunodeficiency, etc. an independent risk factor is obesity. So people who are obese have a higher risk of having severe disease, they have a higher risk of going into critical disease."

She says obese people wind up staying longer in the ICU and they have a higher risk of dying.

"Someone who's overweight is definitely one of the highest risk factors so they're going to have to stay in isolation longer than others."

She suggests while at home, have a conversation with your doctor, and a nutritionist to "get on a regimen to lose weight and maybe exercise in an appropriate fashion for whatever their situation is, so that they can get out of the risk factor if at all possible."

But she doesn't warns losing weight has to be done healthy and smart.

"They have to do it with good nutrition, if you get into a malnourished state, that's a separate risk factor. So you can't just stop eating. You've got to do it in a programmed and appropriate fashion. That's why they need to talk to their doctors and their nutritionist to get on a plan that works for them."

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