Empty middle seats reduce virus risk on planes, a new study says, taking no account of mask-wearing.
By Emily Anthes
Keeping the middle seats vacant during a flight could reduce passengers’ exposure to airborne coronavirus by 23 to 57 percent, researchers reported in a new study that modeled how aerosolized viral particles spread through a simulated airplane cabin.
“Farther is always better in terms of exposure,” said Byron Jones, a mechanical engineer at Kansas Sate University and co-author of the study. “It’s true in airplanes, it’s true in movie theaters, it’s true in restaurants, it’s true everywhere.”
But the study may have overestimated the benefits of empty middle seats because it did not take into account mask-wearing by passengers.
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