Alta, UT Mayor Asks for Everyone to Quiet Down After Study Reveals That Talking Loudly Can Increase Spread of Coronavirus

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Shhhh! Being quiet may prevent spread of coronavirus, according to a study led by MIT students that focused a part of its research on Alta, Utah. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

If you like seeing the ski area open then you may want to shut the **** up this winter. 

At least that’s how the town of Alta, Utah’s mayor feels about it. And the science is there to back him up.

Town of Alta Mayor Harris Sondak told the Salt Lake Tribune that being quiet in locker rooms, bathrooms, lift lines, and restaurants in and around Utah’s ski resorts could prevent the spread of COVID-19 after he commissioned a study led by a team of MIT students to figure out where people had the highest chance of catching the virus in and around Alta. Turns out that the louder you speak—especially in packed areas such as liftlines, UTA buses, and liftlines—the higher the chance that you would spread the coronavirus if you had it.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the MIT student-led study showed that the lifts are not a place to worry about coronavirus, and neither was the liftline so long as people kept their masks on and their voices down. The UTA busses, which have reduced capacity to 20 people this season, are a higher risk area for COVID. However, the study also found that if people simply didn’t talk on the bus, the risk of catching COVID would drop dramatically.

The Salt Lake Tribune compared the study’s findings to what the CDC had to say when it shared:

“The CDC has found that the airborne droplets carrying COVID-19 increase tenfold as a person’s volume increases. So if a quiet infected person emits 20 particles per second, a quietly talking person emits 200 and a loudly talking person emits 2,000. (Someone who is coughing or sneezing emits 200,000 and makes all scenarios unsafe, according to the model. So for the purpose of the study, the group assumed everyone to be asymptomatic). A mask can also block some particles.” — Salt Lake Tribune

But the riskiest areas at Alta are indoors—specifically in its restaurants. 

The study showed that Alta’s indoor dining facilities are the most likely places for someone to catch the coronavirus. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the study showed a 60% chance of catching the virus if dining in a loud restaurant at Alta—even with tables spaced six feet apart. But Alta knows this, and that’s why the ski area (along with every other resort in Utah) has installed more outdoor dining tables, walk-up order windows, propane heaters, and food heaters this season, aiming to bring the contagion rate down to 5%.

Unless Alta and other Utah skier areas were to shut down again completely, the risk of catching the virus will still be there. And no one is advocating for that.

Mt. Superior from Alta, Utah on Nov. 12, 2020. | Photo courtesy SnowBrains

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3 thoughts on “Alta, UT Mayor Asks for Everyone to Quiet Down After Study Reveals That Talking Loudly Can Increase Spread of Coronavirus

  1. Hello, This is Harris Sondak, mayor of the Town of Alta. I just want to point out that 5% is 10 times the .5% threshold that the experts at MIT suggested as the right level of risk to tolerate.

    Please wear a good mask. That is a mask through which you cannot blow out a candle. Lots of buffs are not good enough. And pull up your mask BEFORE entering a lift maze.

    And keep your voice down. In the HIV epidemic silence equaled death. But now, silence means everyone is safer.

  2. That means no hooting and hollering while skiing a untracked line of powder? Oh boy I am in trouble!

    1. Nope, If you’re on the slopes away from other people, shout all you want! But in the lift mazes and ESPECIALLY in the restaurants and other indoor spaces, quiet protects everyone!

      Harris Sondak, Mayor, Town of Alta

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