There has been a great deal of research initiated on the risks of spreading the virus while talking, singing, coughing and simply breathing, and many studies are currently underway to better evaluate the risks.
The concerns for singing are largely as a result of two implications. First, it is believed that the action of singing, speaking loudly, and similar actions can potentially create an “aerosolization” effect whereby the virus can be spread beyond the simple “spray” normally associated with a cough or sneeze.
The more obvious risk of singing versus simple “speaking” in the context of an onstage performance is that while it is rare that a group of people would all “speak” at one time, there will be situations where ensembles of 20+ vocalists may sing at one time, meaning twenty-times the “output.”
What created the focus around singing?
There has been tremendous media coverage of “viral outbreaks” in large choral groups in the early Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, these events took place while we were still learning about the virus and before protections were put in place to minimize the risk of an outbreak.
What is common in each of these “viral outbreaks” is that participants wore no masks, did not fully practice “safe social distance,” were together for hours engaged in group singing in poorly ventilated practice rooms, and in most cases, maintained social contact before and after the gatherings.
As these took place very early in the Covid-19 pandemic, they tended to capture a lot of attention and the immediate reaction was to assume that the singing itself caused the outbreaks.
A review of each of these is available here: Singing Vector Situation Review
The very “visual impact” of wearing a mask
NTPA lead the state and the county in mandatory adoption of mask protections, and the experiment below helps visualize the impact.
This simple study shows very visually the value of a mask in controlling the emission of droplets as well as the similarity between that emission while singing or talking. It should be noted that this study may not fully analyze the impact of aerosols believed by some to be contributory to coronavirus spread.
For the full study, go to: Visual Impact of Masking