Beaches Could Be Dangerous Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The beach could be a dangerous place to be as the coronavirus spreads, and not just because people are too close to each other. “I wouldn’t go in the water if you paid me $1 million right now,” said Kim Prather, an atmospheric chemist. Raw or poorly treated sewage entering the ocean could enter coastal waters and transfer into the air, she says. It's unknown what effect wastewater facilities have on the novel coronavirus. In addition, Prather says that viral particles and travel quite a way because of coastal winds. Coronaviruses have a fatty membrane, which can allow them to sit on the surface of water; whenever waves break, "all that stuff--the viruses, the bacteria, pollutants... just launches into the air," she said. “Once things are in the air, they can go pretty darn far. People are shocked whenever I talk about stuff becoming airborne,” Prather said. A rep for advocates of open beaches in California echoed the general sentiment of authorities that people should respect closed beach notices. "Right now, you can be the difference between life and death for somebody you don’t know," they said.

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