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As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls on into 2022, we are hearing the all-too-familiar calls to cancel or postpone live events to combat the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus.  Just as we were starting to emerge from the lockdown and general atmosphere of terror that this disease has visited on us, the latest version of the virus is threatening to take it all away again.

Luckily, we have learned a thing or two about protecting our selves.  For example: Way more folks are washing their hands on a regular basis and using hand sanitizer.  I've also noticed that (for the most part) people are giving each other more space in lines, and being generally more patient than a lot of us were in the early days of the pandemic.  The next lesson we can take from our 2-year-long-and-counting pandemic is this: We need to keep our mouths shut.

No, I don't mean that we need to stop talking about COVID-19, we just need to stop talking.  What scientist have learned from the feared "super-spreader" events was that the number of people packed into a given space was important - but not as important as what those people were doing.  The results of a new study published in Environmental Science and Technology show that the louder the crowd, the higher the number of new infections.

The study was trying to determine the most likely places to catch COVID when an astounding trend was discovered:  Quiet crowds passed the disease less than loud ones simply because they weren't broadcasting as many COVID-carrying water droplets as those who were talking loudly, shouting, singing, or screaming.  Crowded movie theaters with unmasked patrons showed a 14% chance infection when everyone was quiet and focused on the movie.  Compare that to when people talked in throughout in the same situation which showed a 54% chance of infection.

The Modesto Bee does a great job of breaking down the chance of infection in different scenarios here, but the common denominator in each situation is that we would stand a better chance of minimizing new infections if we could just shut up a bit more.

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