CDC Study Finds Coronavirus may be Spread by Air Conditioning

Maeve Reiter, Reporter

An outbreak of COVID-19 was spread through the air conditioning in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China from January 26th to February 10th, 2020.

Pictured is a sketch showing arrangement of restaurant tables and air conditioning airflow at site of outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease in Guangzhou, China. The red circles indicate seating of individuals who were infected following eating at this restaurant; the individual in yellow was the source of the infection. (CDC)

Based on a study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this experience, the initial family with COVID-19 was seated on a floor in the restaurant near the air conditioner, as well as the other three families.

The study suggests that the cause of the restaurant outbreak was droplet transmission, which the CDC defines as spreading germs through respiratory droplets that are created when someone sneezes, coughs, or talks. The study says that the air conditioner spread the droplets to the tables of all of the families.

To prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants and close spaces, the CDC recommends increasing distance and improving ventilation.

The CDC finding in this small study does ask some questions about the safety of opening climate controlled indoor locations such as restaurants and offices.