6-foot rule may not protect you from COVID indoors, study says

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Signage urging social distancing is seen in Prospect Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

Signage urging social distancing is seen in Prospect Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

(NEXSTAR) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established a “6-foot rule” for social distancing from others amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the interval may not suffice to protect you from COVID while indoors, a new study has found.

“Compliance to the Six-Foot Rule will … substantially reduce the risk of … large-drop transmission,” the study, published this week in the journal PNAS, says.

“However, the liquid drops expelled by respiratory events are known to span a considerable range of scales, with radii varying from fractions of a micron to millimeters.”

The researchers say there is “overwhelming evidence” that indoor airborne transmission associated with “micron-scale” aerosol droplets plays a “dominant role in the spread of COVID-19,” especially so-called superspreader events.

They say, depending on the ventilation and airflow in the space, keeping 6 feet of distance is no different than 60 feet.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated, experts recommend wearing masks while indoors, practicing social distancing and washing hands.

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