LAKE MARY, Fla. - A new computer model shows what happens when someone coughs inside a supermarket.
Within seconds, the tiny water droplets from the person who coughed spread across to the next aisle. They hang in the air, and some eventually settle on the floor and surrounding shelves.
“We decided a few weeks ago we wanted to understand better what happens when a person is coughing in a supermarket environment,” explained Prof. Ville Vuorinen, from Finland’s Aalto University.
Prof. Vuorinen and a team of researchers from several Finnish universities and research facilities came up with the computer model of what a cough looks like.
“We started looking at the problem by supercomputer simulations,” Vuorinen said, “so that's our main tool over here.”
What they found was that while you couldn’t see it, a cough really travels.
“More or less the same problem as cigarette smoke,” Vuorinen said, “If you think about cigarette smoke spreading around, the plume is coming out, and these small, small particles are spreading around.”
Vuorinen is a physicist, not a medical doctor, but says the study shows that social distance really means keeping your distance.
“The message is to stay as far apart from other persons as possible and, if you go to public places, stay there as short a time as possible.”