A new study suggests that remaining six feet apart may not be enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The study got underway when South Korean doctor Lee Ju-Hyung began testing the airflow in restaurants in recent months. He then gathered other epidemiologists and an engineer specializing in aerodynamics to re-create a scene in one of the restaurants to determine the distance it takes for an infected person to spread coronavirus to others.
The researchers recreated one of the restaurants where patrons had contracted the virus from an out-of-town visitor. One of the infected was found to have contracted the virus just five minutes after being exposed. Even more troubling is that the individual was standing over 20 feet away from the infected person.
This study’s conclusion raised valid concerns about whether or not the standard six feet of distance is sufficient in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Last week, the study’s findings were made public in the Journal of Korean Medical Science.
“The distances between infector and infected persons were … farther than the generally accepted 2-meter [6.6-foot] droplet transmission range.” The authors went on to add that social distancing guidelines “must be updated to reflect these factors for control and prevention of COVID-19.”
K.J. Seung, chief of policy and strategy with Partners In Health Massachusetts, was not involved in the study but still rallied behind the conclusion that six feet of distance is not guaranteed to guard people against COVID-19, calling the six feet rule a “real misconception.”
“They’re thinking, if I’m not a close contact, I will magically be protected.”
While additional research is needed, this latest study is similar to the findings of an August finding in Paju, where contact tracers found that 27 people who went to a Starbucks were infected by one woman sitting under a second-floor ceiling air conditioning unit, according to the L.A. Times.