Biden says he was wearing mask, ‘50+ feet away’ from crew member who had Covid-19 on board campaign plane

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Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said he will not quarantine after being on board the same airplane as a crew member who tested positive for the coronavirus, saying he was far away and wearing a N-95 mask.

“My COVID test from last night came back negative,” Biden tweeted on Thursday evening, just before the platform unexpectedly crashed.

“Not only was the individual 50+ feet [15 meters] away and wearing a mask, but I was wearing an N-95 mask,” he added. “My doctors have advised that there is no need for me to quarantine.”

Not only was the individual 50+ feet away and wearing a mask, but I was wearing an N-95 mask. No members of my staff were in contact with this crew member either. My doctors have advised that there is no need for me to quarantine.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 15, 2020

“If anything, let this serve as an example of the importance of wearing masks and keeping a safe, social distance,” the candidate added.

N-95 filtration masks are said to provide “at least 95 percent protection” against airborne particles such as viruses. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC consider them effective as a measure against the coronavirus but recommend they be reserved for use by “health staff and first responders.”

The member of Biden’s flight crew was identified during contact tracing, after the campaign suspended travel plans for his running mate. Kamala Harris’ communications director Liz Allen and a member of the crew on board the October 8 charter flight that Harris was on had both tested positive for the coronavirus.

Harris’ campaign staff also said she wore a N-95 and was not in what the CDC would consider “close contact” with either Allen or the crew member, but opted to scale back travel plans out of an abundance of caution. The CDC defines close contact as being within six feet (1.8 meters) of a person for more than 15 minutes.

Air travel has taken a massive hit due to the pandemic, due to fears of spending a long period of time in enclosed and pressurized airplane cabins. Reporters have repeatedly complained about President Donald Trump’s refusal to wear a mask when addressing them on board Air Force One. However, planes may be far safer than previously thought, according to a Pentagon study released on Thursday.

Airplane ventilation systems take about six minutes to filter “99.99 percent” of particles released by someone who is infected but wearing a mask out of the cabin, says the aerosol dispersion study conducted in August by the US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM).

This is five to six times faster than in a hospital and up to 15 times faster than inside an average home, says the study. Even someone sitting next to an infected passenger would be exposed to 0.3 percent of their particles in that timeframe, which means it’s  “extremely unlikely” a passenger would be exposed to an infectious dose of the coronavirus during a 12-hour flight, according to the TRANSCOM study of aerosol dispersion.

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