Droplets produced during a sneezeA woman conducts a temperature check of a mother and her baby while wearing a mask.

COVID-19 may be able to travel from person to person through tiny particles floating in the air, according to a letter signed by 239 scientists from across the globe. 

The international team, which includes six CU Boulder faculty members, lays out evidence showing how tenacious the pathogen behind COVID-19 can be: The virus, the group says, can likely drift through and survive in the air, especially in crowded, indoor spaces with poor ventilation. 

“Once droplets carrying the virus become small enough, they can stay in the air for minutes or even hours, and we can breathe them in during that time if we are in the same room,” said Jose-Luis Jimenez, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a fellow in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).

“More than 200 scientists from different disciplines and from around the world read our letter and overwhelmingly agreed to sign on,” said Shelly Miller, a professor in the Environmental Engineering Program and the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering who also signed the letter.

An improved understanding of how the coronavirus spreads may lead to better strategies for slowing the pandemic, including improving ventilation and installing indoor air filters.

Image credits: CDC/U.S. Navy