Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers have continuously reiterated that social distancing by 6 feet was part of a series of steps people needed to take to lower their chances of contracting COVID-19. Now, that may not be the case.
A new study shows that the deadly virus can travel through the air up to 16 feet, via droplets called aerosols, Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News chief medical correspondent, reports.
“This is the smoking gun that everyone has been asking for,” Linsey Marr, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Virginia Tech, who studies how viruses travel through the air, told CBS News.
“We’re talking about a virus that is present in very small droplets, tiny ones that we call aerosols that can travel much farther through the air and remain in the air for minutes to hours at a time,” she continued.
This newly discovered information could raise concern for many as the public’s attention has been mainly focused on the airborne transmission of the virus within 6 feet.
“Aerosols can be produced just by talking, LaPook added.
Robyn Schofield, an atmospheric chemist at Melbourne University in Australia who studies aerosols over the ocean, informed The New York Times that she was “impressed” with the methodology.
“It’s a very clever measurement technique,” she said.
She also added that their results do not align with the 6 feet social distancing guidelines that the public has been instructed to follow.
“We know that indoors, those distance rules don’t matter anymore,” she said, adding that the guideline is “misleading because people think they are protected indoors, and they’re not.”
Now that the nation is being informed on aerosols, Marr hopes that steps can be taken to prevent any further COVID-19 cases.
“Once we acknowledge that the virus is transmitting through aerosols, we can then take steps to address that and to reduce that risk,” she said.