While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has maintained that the coronavirus is spread through coughing and sneezing, scientific experts also believe that it can be spread through talking and possibly breathing

Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats for the National Academy of Sciences, penned a letter to the White House explaining the risk of COVID-19 contagion through conversation.

In his note, to Kelvin Droegemeier with the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House Fineberg said, “Currently available research supports the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalations.”

Bioaerosols are tiny airborne particles that are suspended in the air. These particles can spread infectious diseases, producing allergic reactions or respiratory irritation.

For Fineberg, according to his letter, research, however limited, is showing that “aerosolization” of the virus can occur from normal breathing.

Fineberg cited research that was done in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak first started, as well as in Hong Kong, and at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In Wuhan, it was shown that the coronavirus can survive while being suspended in air when hospital personal protective gear is removed, when floors are cleaned, and when hospital staff move around.

Because of this possibility, Fineberg said that COVID-19 can stay in the air and infect someone that walks by moments later, which is all dependent on how much of the virus is emitted when breathing or talking by an infected person and the air circulation inside the room.

Fineberg sent the letter in response to a query from Droegemeier. He wrote, “This letter responds to your question concerning the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread by conversation, in addition to sneeze/cough-induced droplets. Currently available research supports the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients' exhalation.”

The CDC has said that COVID-19 does spread through respiratory droplets, such as coughing or sneezing, when people are within six feet of each other.