Plexiglass at VP debate won’t keep candidates safe, health experts warn. Masks might.
Joel Shannon, USA TODAY Published 5:52 p.m. ET Oct. 7, 2020 | Updated 9:45 a.m. ET Oct. 8, 2020CLOSE R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic. USA TODAYThe clear plexiglass partitions dividing Vice President Mike Pence from Sen. Kamala Harris during Wednesday’s vice presidential debate won’t do much to prevent the spread of COVID-19, health experts warn.Using plexiglass dividers in this situaiton is based on an outdated understanding of how the coronavirus spreads, scientist Kimberly Prather told USA TODAY on Wednesday. There are much more effective ways for the candidates to protect themselves, including wearing masks during the debate, Prather said.Plexiglass dividers were always intended to stop large droplets of the virus, but at the distance the candidates will be spaced apart — more than 12 feet — such droplets aren’t much of a danger, she said. Prather, an atmospheric chemist and professor at the University of California San Diego, coauthored a letter on airborne transmission of the coronavirus that was published this week in Science Magazine. She said it’s important for people to understand the difference between droplets and airborne transmission through aerosols — and that masks are effective reducing the risk of both. It