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Experts explain new study suggesting 6 feet isn’t enough

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 6:43 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - New studies from the University of Florida suggests social distancing yourself six feet from one another might not be as safe as you thought. Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Noe Mateo breaks down the risks.

For months, experts have encouraged people to stay six feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It was a distance that combined what we knew about the way these coughs behave. You wanted to be able to protect people but not keep them so far apart that they couldn’t hear each other if they tried talking to each other,” Mateo said.

However, new hospital room studies from the University of Florida suggest the airborne virus can travel much further.

Dr. Mateo with Sanford Health says droplet nuclei expelled from an infected person’s mouth can break down into smaller particles called aerosols. These aerosols can linger and float much further than six feet.

“You have a small particle that is able to float around real well get even smaller because of evaporation. Now, next thing, it’s floating around the air for a good long time,” Mateo said. Dr. Mateo says the risk is especially heightened in crowded, indoor areas with poor ventilation.

Mateo suggests combating aerosols by wearing face masks and shields indoors whenever possible.

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