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Transmission Potential of SARS-CoV-2 in Viral Shedding Observed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center

By Joshua L Santarpia, Danielle N Rivera, Vicki Herrera, M. Jane Morwitzer, Hannah Creager, George W. Santarpia, Kevin K Crown, David Brett-Major, Elizabeth Schnaubelt, M. Jana Broadhurst, James V. Lawler, St Patrick Reid, John J. Lowe

Posted 26 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.23.20039446

Lack of evidence on SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics has led to shifting isolation guidelines between airborne and droplet isolation precautions. During the initial isolation of 13 individuals confirmed positive with COVID-19 infection, air and surface samples were collected in eleven isolation rooms to examine viral shedding from isolated individuals. While all individuals were confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2, symptoms and viral shedding to the environment varied considerably. Many commonly used items, toilet facilities, and air samples had evidence of viral contamination, indicating that SARS-CoV-2 is shed to the environment as expired particles, during toileting, and through contact with fomites. Disease spread through both direct (droplet and person-to-person) as well as indirect contact (contaminated objects and airborne transmission) are indicated, supporting the use of airborne isolation precautions. One Sentence SummarySARS-CoV-2 is shed during respiration, toileting, and fomite contact, indicating that infection may occur in both direct and indirect contact.

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