Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | virus | 6 feet | 27 feet | social distancing

Study: Coronavirus Droplets Can Travel 27 Feet

people in new york city's central park
People in New York City's Central Park (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 31 March 2020 11:03 AM

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher's findings suggest the current 6-foot social distancing rule to prevent spreading of the coronavirus might not be tough enough.

Lydia Bourouiba, Ph.D., an MIT associate professor, found that when people exhale, droplets carrying the virus can travel in gaseous clouds as far as 27 feet, USA Today reported.

Her research is at odds with recommendations given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization that recommend six feet and three feet of space between people, respectively.

"There's an urgency in revising the guidelines currently being given by the WHO and the CDC on the needs for protective equipment, particular for frontline healthcare workers, Bourouiba told USA TODAY.

She published her research March 26 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and remarked that current standards of social distancing were formulated in the 1930s and, "by modern standards, seem overly simplified."

"Implementing public health recommendations based on these older models may limit the effectiveness of the proposed interventions," the expert stated in JAMA. She said that peak exhalation speeds can reach 33 to 100 feet per second, and "currently used surgical masks and N95 masks are not tested for these potential characteristics of respiratory emissions."

Additionally, Bourouiba said that in her research, smaller droplets of the virus can exist in a gas cloud after exhalation for a longer period of time than otherwise thought — up to several minutes.

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A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher's findings suggest the current 6-foot social distancing rule to prevent spreading of the coronavirus might not be tough enough.
virus, 6 feet, 27 feet, social distancing
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2020-03-31
Tuesday, 31 March 2020 11:03 AM
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