DAVE ROSS

UW virology expert: Avoiding coronavirus a question of probability

Mar 17, 2020, 12:20 PM
Coronavirus...
Good hygiene is one of a handful of weapons to curb the spread of coronavirus. (Pexels)
(Pexels)

Good hygiene has been stressed as a means to avoiding coronavirus infection. So what is it exactly about washing your hands that makes you less susceptible?

Ross: How our brains are really responding to coronavirus

“Everything about a virus spreading like this is a big statistics and probability thing,” said the head of UW Medicine’s Virology Department Dr. Keith Jerome.

Dr. Jerome describes how the likelihood of a single coronavirus particle on a table leading to an infection is “almost nothing.” Where things get risky is when thousands of particles come into play.

“What you’ll see is there’ll be thousands of viral particles on that table, and it’s because somebody sneezed onto your table, right?” he posited. “Your previous guest came, and they sneezed, and now it’s there. Now when you touch it, you might pick up 100 of those. And then you rub your eye, maybe 10 get in there.”

While researchers don’t have an exact estimate, Jerome estimates that after those 10 viral particles get in your eye, “you might have a 50/50 chance” of being infected.

Still, that doesn’t account for scenarios where multiple sneezes could put millions of particles on surfaces.

King County Metro starts cleaning buses daily to limit coronavirus spread

“And now you put 1,000 in your eye, then you’re probably going to get sick,” he said. “Everything is sort of this numbers game — this is why every little thing you can do helps.”

That means frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds each time, wiping down surfaces you interact with, and avoiding touching your face with your hands.

While these measures may not completely eliminate the risk of infection, it’s all about keeping the probability low.

“Maybe I get rid of 99% [disinfecting my hands],” Dr. Jerome said. “I don’t get rid of every last one, but I’ve lowered my chances, and this is what we need to do.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

teacher of the year, Jerad Koepp...
MyNorthwest Staff

Meet the 2022 Washington State Teacher of the Year: Jerad Koepp

Jerad Koepp is Washington State Teacher of the Year for 2022. He is a Native American specialist for the North Thurston County Public Schools.
21 hours ago
airport, freedom...
Dave Ross

Ross: You have the freedom to fly, or to stay home

When you enter an airport, you give up your freedom. Everybody knows this. If you don’t like it, exercise your freedom to stay home.
2 days ago
debt...
Dave Ross

Ross: The wealthiest nation in history is again toying with the idea of not paying its bills

The debt drama is going down to the wire. The warnings are flying, the air is thick with blame – but I remind myself that this is how it’s supposed to work.
3 days ago
Trump...
Dave Ross

Ross: Now we know what they were planning

On Monday, it was revealed why former President Donald Trump had every reason to believe he would win the 2020 election.
4 days ago
trump, secret service...
KIRO Radio staff

Fahrenthold: Taxpayers paid $1.7 million to protect Trump’s four kids, three officials

There's quite a bit of taxpayer money that went to the Secret Service to protect not just the president, but a bunch of other people as well.
5 days ago
Texas abortion...
Dave Ross

Ross: You get a lawsuit, and you get a lawsuit

The way the Texas law is written, Dr. Braid could be sued hundreds of times, and sued successfully, since he’s basically confessed to providing an abortion.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
...
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
UW virology expert: Avoiding coronavirus a question of probability