Blocking off middle seats on commercial airline flights could reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure to passengers by 23 to 57 percent, according to a study from the CDC and Kansas State University. The study is based on data looking at how aerosolized viral particles spread through airplane cabins when the middle seats are open versus when the aircraft is fully occupied. The airline industry disputes this study’s findings, arguing a Harvard study found that masks, ventilation systems and the disinfection of surfaces lead to a low risk of COVID-19 spread on planes. Air travel in this country is increasing and will likely surge this summer. But the number of airline passengers is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels.