Monday, April 6, 2020

Episode 519 (4-6-20): Exploring Water Connections to the COVID-19 Virus – Part 2

Click to listen to episode (4:51)

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 4-3-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 6, 2020.

MUSIC – ~9 sec – Lyrics: “Oh we got a race that must be run, oh we got a race that must be run.”
That’s part of “The Race,” by the Harrisonburg, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels, from their 2013 album, “No More Rain.”  It’s music used here before in episodes about difficult, endurance-requiring human challenges.  In the first week of April 2020, humans around the world are deep into an historic, marathon race to outlast and overcome the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19.  This episode—following up a first coronavirus episode two weeks ago—presents brief notes about five more water-related aspects of the pandemic.

One – Currently, COVID-19 virus transmission is believed to be primarily through respiratory droplets, made up of water, mucus, and other substances.  But an important, unanswered question is, to what degree can it be transmitted as smaller, drier particles called aerosols, also called droplet nuclei.  Aerosols can stay in the air longer and be transmitted farther than droplets; this occurs, for example, with the measles virus.  As scientists learn more about the transmission mechanisms for the COVID-19 virus, this can affect recommendations about social distancing and mask-wearing.

Two - Soap and water are effective in preventing transmission of the COVID-19 virus because soap—given adequate time and lathering—can degrade the virus particle’s outer envelope.  Soap can also surround virus particles, helping to dislodge them from surfaces and allow water to rinse them away.

Three - Adequate, clean water is obviously necessary for proper hand-washing.  The pandemic has underlined the problem of access to adequate water in various places in the United States and around the world, where an estimated 3 billion people lack basic handwashing facilities at home, according to a 2019 report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Four - Water supply and wastewater facility staff are among the many groups of workers considered essential personnel during the pandemic.

And five – The U.S. Navy has been part of the pandemic story in at least two ways: first, through the missions of its hospital ships Comfort out of Norfolk and Mercy out of San Diego, deployed to New York and Los Angeles, respectively; and, second, through the widely reported stop of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in Guam in late March to take hundreds of crew members ashore for virus quarantine and testing.

The world is continuing to investigate and learn more about this coronavirus.  So Virginia Water Radio will continue to watch for water-related aspects of the pandemic and possibly have more virus-related episodes.

Thanks to The Steel Wheels for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 40 more seconds of “The Race.”

MUSIC - ~40 sec – Lyrics: “Oh oh I’ve got a hope that never fails me, and I’ve got a song that I’m gonna sing. Tempest turns and the winds are wailing. Oh we got a race that must be run, oh we got a race that must be run; oh we got a race that must be run, oh we got a race that must…be…run.”


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.


A previous episode on the COVID-19 virus was Episode 517, 3-23-20.

“The Race,” from the 2013 album “No More Rain,” is copyright by The Steel Wheels, is used with permission.  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at  This music was most recently used in Virginia Water Radio Episode 504, 12-23-19.

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


Image from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)/Communication Resources/Print Resources,” online at, as of 4-6-20.  The poster is also available in Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.


Used for Transmission Mechanisms

J. Atkinson, et al., editors, Natural Ventilation for Infection Control in Health-Care Settings, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2009.  See “Annex C: Respiratory Droplets,” online at (subscription may be required).

Benjamin J. Cowling et al., “Aerosol transmission is an important mode of influenza A virus spread,” Nature Communications, Vol. 4, Article 1935, June 4, 2013; accessed online at, 4/4/20 (subscription may be required).

Mt. Sinai Hospital of Toronto, Canada, Department of Microbiology, “FAQ: Methods of Disease Transmission,” online at

Ramon Padilla, Coronavirus might spread much farther than 6 feet in the air—CDC says wear a mask in public, USA Today, 4/4/20.

World Health Organization, “Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations,” 3/29/20, online at

Ed Yong, “Everyone Thinks They’re Right About Masks—How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic,” The Atlantic, 4/1/20,

Used for Soap and Water Effectiveness

Sarah Gibbens, “Why soap is preferable to bleach in the fight against coronavirus,” National Geographic, 3/18/20, 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

Richard Sima, “Soap, Duration and Water Temperature: What Matters and What Doesn’t When It Comes to Good Hand-Washing,” Discover, 3/27/20, online at

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” online at  Specific section used:
“How It Spreads,” online at

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

Used for Water Availability

Office of the Governor of Michigan, “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls for water reconnections statewide, establishes fund to help communities comply,” 3/28/20 News Release, online at,9309,7-387-90499_90640-523415--,00.html.

Maria Givens, The coronavirus is exacerbating vulnerabilities Native communities already face, Vox, 3/25/20.

Anagha Srikanth, How the coronavirus threatens Native American communities, The Hill, 3/19/20.

World Health Organization (WHO), “1 In 3 People Globally Do Not Have Access To Safe Drinking Water – UNICEF, WHO; New Report On Inequalities In Access To Water, Sanitation And Hygiene Also Reveals More Than Half Of The World Does Not Have Access To Safe Sanitation Services,” 6/18/19 News Release, online at

Used for Water-service People as Essential Workers

Kalli Forshee, USDA Rural Utilities Service, Water and Environment Programs declare Circuit Riders Essential Service, National Rural Water Association, 3/26/20.

President of American Water Resources Association, 3/25/20, online at

National Rural Water Association CEO, 3/18/20, online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “EPA Urges States to Support Drinking Water and Wastewater Operations during COVID-19,” 3/27/20 News Release, online at

Used for the Role of, and Impacts on, the Navy

Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart, U.S. Navy relieves aircraft carrier commander who wrote letter urging coronavirus action, Reuters, 4/2/20.

Gina Harkins, Why the Navy's Hospital Ship Mercy Is Going to LA Instead of Hard-Hit Washington,, 3/23/20.

David Welna, Top Navy Brass Defend Response To Virus-Stricken Carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, NPR, 4/1/20.

WLNY TV-New York City, Coronavirus Update: Navy Hospital Ship Headed To NYC This Weekend, 3/27/20.

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

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

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.

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

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 some other episodes on 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.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources of information, or other materials in the Show Notes.

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
3.10 – impacts on survival of species, including effects of fire, flood, disease, and erosion on organisms.
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 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water and its roles in the human and natural environment.

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.2 – water chemistry and its impact on life processes.
BIO.4 – life functions (including metabolism and homeostasis) in different organism groups, including human health, anatomy, and body systems.
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Chemistry Course
CH.1 – current applications to reinforce science concepts.
CH.6 – chemical properties in organic chemistry and biochemistry.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Virginia Studies Course
VS.9 – how national events affect 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.1 – skills for historical thinking, geographical analysis, economic decision-making, and responsible citizenship.
CE.6 – government at the national level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.1 – skills for historical thinking, geographical analysis, economic decision-making, and responsible citizenship.
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.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.14 – political and social conditions in the 21st Century.

Government Course
GOVT.1 – skills for historical thinking, geographical analysis, economic decision-making, and responsible citizenship.
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT. 12 – role of the United States in a changing world, including responsibilities of the national government for foreign policy and national security.
GOVT.15 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

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.