The science behind six feet of social distancing


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Health and government officials are continuing to urge all of us to social distance. As many things in the two-state reopen, it can get confusing on how far you need to be away from others.

Experts at Augusta University Health and at the Centers for Disease Control say six feet is the appropriate space to social distance. The World Health Organization

Kimberly Alson lives in Augusta. She said, “The world is never going to be the same anymore because of what’s going on.”

The six-foot rule is based on past studies of illnesses. When you sneeze, cough, or even talk, you expel droplets.

“Those droplets can contain the virus. They contain SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused COVID-19. And as you expel those, they travel a certain distance and they fall because it’s contained within a droplet,” said AU Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Phillip Coule.

It may seem those droplets can travel far but they actually only travel about three to five feet. 

Dr. Coule explained, “It doesn’t travel six feet and so that’s the reason for the six-foot rule. And also the reason that facial coverings and masks are effective because it cuts down on that distance travel.”

Dr. Coule said it may be safer to social distance more than six feet but it’s unnecessary and for many people a nuisance. 

“If you make it too much, compliance will be poor. People are like, ‘I can’t stay 12 feet away from somebody.’ And I’ve seen the things that say a sneeze can travel 27 feet. Sometimes I’m certain my sneezes could travel 27 feet but at a six-foot distance, much less likelihood of actually inhaling those droplets than if you were at three feet for example.”

Some areas are difficult to social distance at, like inside an elevator or in an office. The best advice is to be aware of your surroundings.

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