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Experts Tout Simple Adjustment to Cut Airplane COVID Infections by Half

The airlines aren’t going to like it, however.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise within the United States, many Americans are looking for ways to mitigate their risk of catching or spreading the highly contagious virus.

For a majority of healthy Americans, COVID-19 does not pose an existential threat to their well-being.  Some may experience fever and a dry cough, while others may experience no symptoms at all.  The real issue lies in the fact that a great many who’ve spread the virus to at-risk populations have done so while showing no symptoms themselves.  This means that COVID-19 is spreading under the radar, and to Americans who are not sure of their risk level.

With no cure or vaccine, this has left many of us searching for the safest practices possible in order to prevent the spread of this novel strain of coronavirus.

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In the airline industry, it could be as simple as cutting out that middle seat that no one liked anyway.

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Eliminating the middle seat on planes may help cut already low on-flight coronavirus risk even more, a new research paper from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested.

The paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, pegs the risk of contracting COVID-19 from nearby passengers on a full flight at about 1 in 4,300. According to the research findings, that risk drops to 1 in 7,700 when the middle seat is not booked.

The research paper, titled “Covid-19 Risk Among Airline Passengers: Should the Middle Seat Stay Empty?” was penned by award-winning MIT statistician Arnold Barnett and published in MedRxiv earlier this month.

The calculations, Barnett writes, “do suggest a measurable reduction in COVID-19 risk when middle seats on aircraft are deliberately kept open.”

This isn’t necessarily surprising, as medical experts have long maintained that social distancing is the key to starving the virus.

The only real problem will be convincing an already-struggling airline industry to eliminate 33% of their capacity on already-desolate flights.

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