Can you catch COVID-19 from secondhand smoke?


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WESH)New research suggests the coronavirus can be spread through secondhand smoke. A Central Florida doctor took a look into the claim.

Dr. Herman Gatzambide is a pulmonary specialist in Critical Care at Health Central Hospital – Orlando Health in Ocoee.

He specializes in advanced lung disease, lung transplants and has been on the front lines of this pandemic since day one.

Gatzambide says COVID-19 transmits by respiratory droplets and those droplets can attack your nose, eyes or mouth.

Gatzambide says think of the droplets like cannonballs, and for a smoker the breaths are deep, the exhaling is forceful.

“So his cannonballs carry more weight, almost like more black powder, so if it’s 6 feet on passive, it could be 10 or 12 feet on someone who’s smoking,” Gatzambide said. “Does the smoke itself carry the virus? the answer is no, but right behind the smoke is the respiratory droplets that he is releasing and he is releasing under effort because he’s passively and actively trying to exhale that air.”

The same goes for vaping.

“If you happen to have COVID, those droplets will be completely coated in that COVID virus, and when you exhale that vape, with the vape air you are going to release a significant amount of respiratory droplets,” Gatzambide said.

In the ICU, Gatzambide wears a face shield and a mask.

“And if I am wearing it, I am recommending it, but it has to be the full face shield, not just goggles, not just something that goes around, not just glasses, I am talking a full face shield,” Gatzambide said.

He cautions if you can smell the smoke, you’re too close.

“If I walk next to you and you say that perfume smells amazing, you and I were just close enough for you to get my COVID-19. Why? Because if you’re able smell my perfume you were close enough to take my droplets,” Gatzambide said.


Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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