Why 6 Feet May Not Be Enough - How Coronavirus Travels Farther

Why 6 Feet May Not Be Enough - How Coronavirus Travels Farther

  • This page was last updated at September 20, 2020.

COVID-19 has forced the biggest lockdown in this century so far. Thanks to this lockdown, people are forced to maintain social distancing. That is, they have to keep six feet distance between them.

The COVID-19 strain of coronavirus is relatively new, and scientists have not fully understood it. Until recently, it was thought that maintaining a distance of six feet between two individuals was sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, new research has found that this distance might not be enough.

According to scientists, the virus is transmitted through droplets. These droplets are released when we cough or sneeze. They can be released when we talk. Until now it was believed that the distance the virus can travel through these droplets was limited. That is, the virus cannot travel more than six feet. For that reason, people have been told to maintain a minimum of six feet between them when interacting with people who are not part of their family.

Could six feet be to close?

A recent study conducted found that the droplets can travel as far as 18 feet. The researchers took into account many factors such as humidity, wind speed, and evaporation. They had also considered how saliva particles interact with air molecules. After having solved millions of equations they concluded under certain conditions the virus can reach a person standing less than 18 feet away.

The researchers have used stimulation software for this research. Through the use of the software, they were able to determine the different ways the droplets could travel after leaving a person’s mouth.

Inconclusive Data

The data gathered from the research is, however, not conclusive. The reason for this is that no one yet knows how long the virus can survive outside the human body. It is simply too new of a virus. There is always a possibility that the virus may perish before it covers the distance. The researchers still feel that the data gathered through their research is useful and can impact the response to the pandemic.

These researchers have acknowledged that they need to take it into account temperature to come to a proper conclusion. Another factor that researchers want to take into consideration is the effect of the air conditioner on these droplets. However, they do not feel that not taking these factors into account would reduce the value of their research.

Researchers believe that the data gathered from the research can be used to validate other measures such as social distancing and wearing masks. In addition to that, they feel that this research can be used to form guidelines for other airborne diseases.

Researchers also feel that the data can help authorities determine how long they must wait before they open a business. According to non-participating researchers, the use of stimulation in research leaves a lot of questions. They, however, do agree that conducting live research during a pandemic is highly difficult. The main objections they bring concerns to the virus itself.

The researchers feel that to gather evidence in the real world they would have to take different things into account. Interaction between people differs between cultures. The behavior of a person can influence the way they interact with other people. Thus, many things have to be considered before they can come with conclusive data.

Time the Virus is in the Air

Researchers from other studies feel that the duration the virus is in the air should also be factored in. Another research has concluded that the droplets can float in the air for a long time. The maximum number of minutes that the droplet can stay in the air is 14.

Scientists have also found that when a person talks out loud the number of droplets emitted into the air can be thousands. This problem is particularly serious for places where people have to talk out loud for long periods.

Normally in nightclubs and bars, people are forced to talk loudly with each other. This increases the chances of the virus infecting other people. For that particular reason, the government has ordered both nightclubs and bars to be closed. Unfortunately, these conditions are not limited to nightclubs and bars. A similar situation is found in churches. The church has choirs, and they tend to sing out loudly. This has been confirmed at one of the churches. The church had 61 members attending one of their meetings. Out of those 61 members, 32 were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has conducted this research. But they also acknowledge that they are other factors. These factors include the fact that the members shared snacks. Also, the members at the meeting helped to put away the chairs after the meeting.

The members of this research feel that even though they are finding new information, the information can't reach the common man.

Wearing Masks Might be Needed for Sometime

The CDC has recommended that when in public people should wear protective face masks to protect themselves. It is not a requirement but has been strongly advised by the center. Wearing face masks does not guarantee protection, but does enhance it. The best it can do is stop an infected person from spreading the infection.

Not all people are comfortable wearing a mask in public. Many officials feel that until a vaccine is discovered for Covid-19, it would be better to wear a mask. This especially important for people who want to go to outdoor activities in groups. The need for wearing a mask increases if these activities are done in public.

Many people are not comfortable wearing a mask and many researchers feel that this is going to be a personal preference. United States president, Donald Trump, has started a project called Operation Warp speed to develop a vaccine by January 2021. However, many experts are skeptical that it would be possible to develop a vaccine by the deadline. They feel that it would take them at least 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine. They also warn the public that the virus has implanted itself into the public and without a vaccine, it would not be possible to remove the virus.