Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by inhalation of respiratory aerosol in the Skagit Valley Chorale superspreading event Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractDuring the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, an outbreak occurred following attendance of a symptomatic index case at a regular weekly rehearsal on 10 March of the Skagit Valley Chorale (SVC). After that rehearsal, 53 members of the SVC among 61 in attendance were confirmed or strongly suspected to have contracted COVID-19 and two died. Transmission by the airborne route is likely. It is vital to identify features of cases such as this so as to better understand the factors that promote superspreading events. Based on a conditional assumption that transmission during this outbreak was by inhalation of respiratory aerosol, we use the available evidence to infer the emission rate of airborne infectious quanta from the primary source. We also explore how the risk of infection would vary with several influential factors: the rates of removal of respiratory aerosol by ventilation; deposition onto surfaces; and viral decay. The results indicate an emission rate of the order of a thousand quanta per hour (mean [interquartile range] for this event = 970 [680-1190] quanta per hour) and demonstrate that the risk of infection is modulated by ventilation conditions, occupant density, and duration of shared presence with an infectious individual.Practical ImplicationsDuring respiratory disease pandemics, group singing indoors should be discouraged or at a minimum carefully managed as singing can generate large amounts of airborne virus (quanta) if any of the singers is infected.Ventilation requirements for spaces that are used for singing (e.g., buildings for religious services and rehearsal/performance) should be reconsidered in light of the potential for airborne transmission of infectious diseases.Meetings of choirs and other kinds of singing groups during pandemics should only be in spaces that are equipped with a warning system of insufficient ventilation which may be detected with CO2 “traffic light” monitors.Systems that combine the functions heating and ventilation (or cooling and ventilation) should be provided with a disclaimer saying “do not shut this system off when people are using the room; turning off the system will also shut down fresh air supply, which can lead to the spread of airborne infections.”

publication date

  • June 17, 2020

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • October 26, 2021 2:54 AM

Full Author List

  • Miller SL; Nazaroff WW; Jimenez JL; Boerstra A; Buonanno G; Dancer SJ; Kurnitski J; Marr LC; Morawska L; Noakes C

author count

  • 10

Other Profiles