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Morning Brief: Social Distancing Questions, SpaceX, And The Drive-In

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
People maintain social distancing while standing in line at a Trader Joe's on March 25, 2020 in Los Angeles.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images North America)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s April 27.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has been making the rounds on social media. The study, co-authored by two MIT professors, found that among groups of people with mixed vaccination statuses, staying six feet apart while indoors does not necessarily reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

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The finding is built on the relatively new knowledge that the respiratory particles most likely to spread the coronavirus are small aerosol droplets — not larger droplets, as was initially believed — which can stay in the air for longer, and spread more evenly throughout a room. Smaller droplets are more likely to be generated during activities such as singing or exercising.

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“These microscopic little particles float in the air for extended periods of time,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Kimberly Shriner, speaking on our newsroom’s AirTalk show yesterday. “Especially with these new variants, the distant parameters that we'd set up — six feet, three feet, so forth — in an indoor setting are probably not as helpful.”

BUTthe point of the study, which its authors lay out quite clearly, is not to demonstrate what doesn’t work, but to better identify what does. To that end, they write:

“To minimize risk of infection, one should avoid spending extended periods in highly populated areas. One is safer in rooms with large volume and high ventilation rates. One is at greater risk in rooms where people are exerting themselves in such a way as to increase their respiration rate and pathogen output, for example, by exercising, singing, or shouting .... Likewise, masks worn by both infected and susceptible persons will reduce the risk of transmission.”

In other words: wear your mask. Keep wearing your mask. Rinse (literally). And repeat.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • About 60% of L.A. County seniors are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • California must give up one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives starting with the 2022 midterm elections, based on initial 2020 Census results.
  • It's getting crowded aboard the International Space Station, where four more astronauts arrived on Saturday, including two Americans.
  • A federal judge is giving L.A. leaders more time to comply with a sweeping homelessness order.
  • Sunday's TV audience for the Oscars was down nearly 60 percent from the 2020 broadcast, with an estimated audience of fewer than 10 million.

Before You Go … This Week’s Outdoor Pick: Rooftop Cinema

Let's go to the movies (Photo courtesy Rooftop Film Club)

The Rooftop Cinema Club, a drive-in movie night, returns to the Santa Monica Airport Interim Open Space with a mix of family screenings and date-night classics. Watch movies on a 52-foot big screen with audio broadcast through your FM radio. Contactless concession ordering allows your snacks to be delivered by roller skating servers. The season opens with a “We Love LA” series, featuring Clueless and Pulp Fiction.

Or, you could: Cook along with John Liu of Chifa restaurant. Revisit Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man." View Judson Studios' stained glass. Learn about the witches' holiday of Walpurgisnacht. Attend the Tune-Yards' online party. Jump start your old career — or find a new one with help from a KPCC virtual event. And more.

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