Singing Isn’t Worse than Talking for COVID Spread

The amount of aerosol put into the air through singing or speech at different volumes were studied.

Given that a high proportion of singers developed COVID-19 after a choir rehearsal in Washington in March, many people now believe singing is especially bad – worse, even, than talking – for the spread of the coronavirus.

Scientists have just completed a study that shows singing is not significantly worse than talking when it comes to spreading virus-carrying aerosols into the air. In fact, the biggest factor that increased the aerosols was volume. If you speak or sing loudly, you will be spewing many more virus-carrying particles into the air around you.

… Whereas singing or shouting at the loudest level could generate 30 times more aerosol.

Lauren Moss, Health correspondent, BBC News

So, as long as singing rehearsals truck along at a piano or mezzoforte, this finding could be great news for choirs, musical theatre groups and churches, right? Actually, we shouldn’t get too excited.

You see, it still remains that the virus spreads more aggressively when people are indoors for long stretches of time, close together and with poor ventilation – the conditions of most church services, choir and theatre rehearsals! Just because we know that singing is not significantly more dangerous than speaking, it doesn’t mean we can drop physical distancing and go back to normal.

It does mean, however, that we need not fear vocal rehearsals. If physical distancing is in place, and if vocal volume is kept under control, gathering to sing is no more dangerous than dinner parties or other social gatherings. In all of these activities, we must keep records for contact tracing, keep our distance, increase ventilation and limit our vocal volume.

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