• The Financial District


A new tool out from researchers at Oxford and MIT provides a traffic-light system for assessing risks during the pandemic so we don't always have to be on high alert.

On Tuesday (Wednesday, August 26, 2020 in Manila), hoping to inject a little more of such empowerment into the ways people protect themselves from the virus' spread, researchers from Oxford and MIT released a new traffic-light system that they hope will help people live life to its fullest while still being careful enough during the pandemic.

"With knowledge and tools that are relatively simple to use, that distill complex information, our hope is that decision makers, local community leaders, school leaders, and everybody that is organizing anything like a barbecue or party or a wedding, is empowered to be more resilient, by having the tools to make the right decisions and to impose the right restrictions," Lydia Bourouiba, an MIT professor who directs the university's Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Lab, told Hilary Brueck of Business Insider shortly before her new tool was released in the British Medical Journal (BMJ.)

"We equip people with understanding to adapt in various situations so that they know when they need to be absolutely vigilant, and when they can let their guard down," she said. Environmental scientists like Morawska say when it comes to talking about how the coronavirus spreads, there's no point in trying to distinguish a droplet from an aerosol or distinguish what happens at 3 feet away versus 10. What matters most is how much virus has a chance to get into your body, regardless of how it gets there. "There are three modes of transmission, and all three modes of transmission have to be controlled," she said. Those three modes are people (the most common source of infection), surfaces, and the air.

She said the 6-foot social distancing measure is more than 80-years-old and may no longer be appropriate in protecting people from viruses.

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@2020 by The Financial District