Study shows risk of coronavirus exposure may be low when wearing masks on planes

Posted at 11:57 AM, Oct 16, 2020

People are planning to take time off to travel through the end of the year, but of course, things look different because of the pandemic.

“It’s not just as easy as it used to be to get in the car and go where you are going and have a great time,” said Jeanette Casselano McGee, a AAA spokesperson.

First off, AAA says people will likely plan last minute. One in five travelers plan to book something only a week out, because people don't have a lot of confidence that they will be able to take the trip, because of how quickly things change with the virus.

Most of these vacations will be road trips and to places that offer a lot of outdoors attractions.

“Even if you are going to a national park, call ahead. Sometimes you need reservations or not everything may be open,” said McGee.

It's also a good idea to check with hotels and restaurants in the area on capacity, as well as local and state virus restrictions.

And there's promising new data for those planning to fly. The Department of Defense commissioned a 6-month long study using a United aircraft to learn more about the risk of COVID-19 exposure while flying.

Mannequins were used to simulate coughing with a mask on and off. Sensors were placed in seats all over the plane to detect particles.

It found after 300 tests both in the air and on the ground that when someone is wearing a mask, only .003% of particles made their way into another passenger's breathing zone, virtually 0%. Almost all particles are filtered out of the plane's cabin within 6 minutes.

Last week, separate research by the International Air Transport Association found 44 published cases of potential in-flight transmission. Most happened in the early days of the pandemic when masks were not required.