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Research launched on COVID-19 spread in arenas

Arena DigestA group of German researchers held a mock pop concert this weekend to research the methods of a COVID-19 spread in arenas, testing three scenarios.

Researchers at the University Hospital in Halle filled a Leipzig arena with volunteers, hired a band, and ran through three scenarios likely to pop up as the concert and event industries return. We know COVID-19 is spread by aerosols, the small particles that actually carry the virus, but researchers are still working to determine how they are circulated, how long in the air they can last, and how long they can live on surfaces. There are plenty of educated guesses out there, and the Leipzig effort is an attempt to secure some hard data to back up those educated guesses regarding COVID-19 spread in arenas.

Of course, Germans being Germans, the experiment was run as close to real-world circumstances as possible, with a live band on hand to provide the entertainment. From AP:

Researchers equipped each volunteer with contact tracers to record their routes in the arena and track the path of the aerosols — the small particles that could carry the virus — they emitted as they mingled and talked. Fluorescent disinfectants were used to highlight which surfaces at the mock concert were touched most frequently….

Under the first scenario, which simulated the very beginning of a pandemic, the concert-goers were kept close together in the room with no social distancing. In the second, the researchers instituted hygiene measures and larger social distances between the volunteers. In the third, a distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) between participants was strictly enforced.

It will take six to eight weeks to analyze the data.

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