U of M researchers study how coronavirus travels indoors

As businesses reopen and state officials are considering how to move forward with the upcoming school year, researchers at the University of Minnesota are studying how the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is spread indoors.

According to a release from the university, mechanical engineering professors Jiarong Hong and Suo Yang molded virus transmissions through aerosols.

The professors studied the spread of virus through the air in three different spaces, including an elevator, a classroom and a supermarket.

The study also looked at how the virus spreads with different levels of ventilation and spacing among people inside of the room.

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The professors say this is a first-of-its-kind test.

"You see a lot of people talking about what the risks are of staying in confined spaces, but nobody gives a quantitative number. I think the major contribution we’ve made is combining very accurate measurements and computational fluid dynamics simulation to provide a very quantitative estimate of the risks," Hong said.

During the study, the professors found that in indoor spaces, good ventilation will filter out some of the virus. However, viral particles will remain on surfaces inside the room.

The study also found that the right combination of ventilation and the organization of rooms could mitigate hotspots where aerosols with the virus are congregated.