Monday, March 23, 2020

Episode 517 (3-23-20): Exploring Water Connections to the COVID-19 Virus

Click to listen to episode (5:02)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-20-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 23, 2020.

This week, we feature music inspired by the microbe-caused events shaking the globe.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds.

MUSIC – ~ 43 sec – instrumental.

You’ve been listening to “Corona Cue,” by Torrin Hallett, a student at Manhattan School of Music in New York.  The whole world is responding to unprecedented cues from the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, which is causing the respiratory disease called COVID-19.  As is well-known now from instructions to maintain social distance, the COVID-19 virus is transmitted primarily through the air on droplets from an infected person’s respiratory system.  From a water-resources perspective, there’s no evidence currently that this virus is water-borne.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC), document titled “Water Transmission and COVID-19,” last updated on March 10, quote “The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.  The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person is…unknown; however, the risk is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (or SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (or MERS),” unquote.

Besides being considered as not water-borne, perhaps COVID-19’s most important connection to water in the current emergency is that washing one’s hands with soap and water acts to impair the virus’s particles and remove them from the skin.

Virginia Water Radio will continue to look into any water connections to the coronavirus pandemic and possibly have additional episodes on the topic.  As the CDC states in its online COVID-19 “Frequently Asked Questions,” “There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.”

Thanks to Torrin Hallett for creating “Corona Cue” for Virginia Water Radio.  We close with some more music, not inspired by COVID-19 but with a message fitting the big, common challenge facing people everywhere; here’s about 40 seconds of “On a Ship,” by Blacksburg, Va., singer-songwriter Kat Mills.

MUSIC – ~ 39 sec – Lyrics: “We are on a ship, a great big ship. It takes all of us, to take care of it. And we can use the stars to navigate our trip; we are riding on a ship.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


Note added 4/6/20: A second episode on water connections of the COVID-19 virus is Episode 519, 4-6-20.

“Corona Cue” is copyright 2020 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission.  Torrin is a 2018 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio; as of 2020, he is a graduate student in Horn Performance at Manhattan School of Music in New York City.  More information about Torrin is available online at  Thanks very much to Torrin for composing the piece especially for Virginia Water Radio.

“On a Ship,” from the 2015 album “Silver,” is copyright by Kat Mills, used with permission. Accompanists on the song are Ida Polys, vocals; Rachel Handman, violin; and Nicholas Polys, banjo.  More information about Kat Mills is available online at  This music was most recently featured in Episode 500, 11-25-19.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Structure of coronaviruses, in a public domain image by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins; accessed at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Image Library, online at  Following is the caption provided by the CDC with the image, as of 3-23-20: “This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.  Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically.  A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019.  The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

Transmission electron microscopic image of a tissue isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. The spherical viral particles are colorized in blue.  Public domain image by Hannah A. Bullock and Azaibi Tamin; accessed at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Image Library, online at, 3-23-20.

Poster with key information about COVID-19, provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accessed online at, 3-23-20.


The following information is quoted from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Water Transmission and COVID-19” (last reviewed 3-10-20), accessed online at, 3-23-20.

“The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water.  Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Is the COVID-19 virus found in feces?
The virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19.  The amount of virus released from the body (shed) in stool, how long the virus is shed, and whether the virus in stool is infectious are not known.  The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person is also unknown.  However, the risk is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).  There have been no reports of fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 to date.

“Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools and hot tubs?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?
CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available.  At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low.  Although transmission of COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred.  This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed.  SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days.  In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols.  Data suggest that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronaviruses, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.  Wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks.

“Should wastewater workers take extra precautions to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus?
Wastewater treatment plant operations should ensure workers follow routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater.  These include using engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE normally required for work tasks when handling untreated wastewater.  No additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for employees involved in wastewater management operations, including those at wastewater treatment facilities.”


Used for Audio

Commonwealth of Virginia, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Virginia,” online at; specifically “Frequently Asked Questions,” online (as a PDF) at,

Aimee M. Gall et al., “Waterborne Viruses: A Barrier to Safe Drinking Water,” PLOS Pathogens, June 2015, online at (subscription may be required for access).

National Institutes of Health, “New coronavirus stable for hours on surfaces—SARS-CoV-2 stability similar to original SARS virus,” 3/17/20 news release, online at

Maxwell Posner and Elena Renken, “Hand-Washing Can Protect You From Coronavirus. But You Need To Do It Right,” NPR, March 7, 2020, online at

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” online at  Specific sections used:
“How It Spreads,” online at
“Frequently Asked Questions,” online at  (This is the source of the CDC comment used at the end of the audio.)
“Water Transmission and COVID-19,” as of 3-20-20, online at  (Information from this source is in the “Extra Information” section above.)

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives,” online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Coronavirus and Drinking Water and Wastewater,” online at

For More Information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Harvard University Medical School, “Coronavirus Resource Center,” online at

National Academy of Medicine, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)—News and Resources from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine,” online at this link.  As of 3/19/20, this site included “Rapid-response Initiative,” “Discussion Paper,” “Commentary,” “News,” “Events,” “Selected Resources,” and “For More Information.”

World Health Organization, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Science” subject category.

Following are links to episodes using other musical selections composed by Torrin Hallett (listed in alphabetical order by the musical selection).

“Geese Piece” – Episode 335, 9-26-16 on the Canada Goose; and Episode 440, 10-1-18, on E-bird.
“Lizards Who Lunch” – Episode 514, 3-2-20, on lizards.
“New Year’s Water” –Episode 349, 1-2-17, on the New Year.
“Rain Refrain” – Episode 338, 10-17-16, on rainfall measurements; and Episode 455, 1-14-19, on record Virginia precipitation in 2019.
“Tropical Tantrum” – Episode 369, 5-22-17 and Episode 423, 6-2-18, on the upcoming Atlantic tropical storm seasons in 2017 and 2018, respectively; Episode 438, 9-17-18, on hurricane basic facts and history; and Episode 489, 9-9-19, on Storm Surge and Hurricane Dorian.
“Turkey Tune” – Episode 343, 11-21-16, on the Wild Turkey.

Following are links to some other episodes on water and human biology.

Neurons, Ions, and Water – Episode 450, 12-10-18.
On Water, Biology, and Basketball – Episode 466, 4-1-19.
The Flu and Water – Episode 393, 11-6-17.
Water’s at the Heart of Blood – Episode 392, 10-30-17.
Water and the Human Skeleton – Episode 287, 10-26-15.


The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decisions, hazard mitigation, and cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
4.5 – ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystems.
5.5 – cell structures and functions, organism classification, and organism traits.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.1 – understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science, including current applications to reinforce science concepts.
LS.3 – cellular organization, including cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems.
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Biology Course
BIO.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
BIO.4 – life functions (including metabolism and homeostasis) in different organism groups, including human health, anatomy, and body systems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.9 – how national events affected Virginia and its citizens.
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.9 – domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.8 – government at the local level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.18 – cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.