Columbia Epidemiology Professor: Social Distancing ‘Greatly Reduces the Risk’ of COVID-19

‘We’re still learning what the best way to do cancellation of mass gatherings is’

NEVILLE:  "Steven Morris joins us now, professor of epidemiology at Columbia university. Thank you for joining us. If we could start by getting you to explain to us just how much we’re exposed even colds or the flu at mass gatherings and then explain why canceling mass gatherings is necessary at this time and then finally why the variations on crowd size restrictions?"
MORSE:  "We certainly understand this from experiences with the flu and most of our pandemic flu planning includes provisions for this, especially once it begins to get severe. So we know that this virus also, like the flu, is largely spread from person to person, largely by the respiratory route. Therefore, if we can have social distancing, keeping people some distance apart, preventing having a lot of people close together, it greatly reduces the risk. One of the problems is that we’re still learning what the best way to do cancellation of mass gatherings is. There are, as governor Newsom said there, really are no established guidelines. Everybody has a different standard. I think one of the things we’ll learn from this experience is perhaps how to do it better in a timely way because we don’t know when to start canceling mass gatherings, we don’t know which ones. So it’s largely been left up to individual states, cities, and the private sector. And I hope we’ll have some more advice and better guidance coming out of this. But it certainly is a very helpful way of preventing the spread of any respiratory infection because —"

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