Droplets with coronavirus may spread more than double the suggested six-foot distance.

As every state in the nation continues to practice social distancing, new reports have come out with alarming research. Current social distancing guidelines may not be set to the extent that they should be.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently produced some alarming new information in the federal agency’s Emerging Infectious Disease journal. The research in the journal points to the reality that the coronavirus can spread through the air as far as 13 feet. The current social distancing guidelines recommend that individuals stay six feet apart from each other, so it is not quite clear if current measures are enough to help combat the spread of the virus.

How Does the Coronavirus Spread Through the Air?

Transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 is passed from person to person through the air. Transmission happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks. When an infected person spreads infected droplets in the air, anyone who comes in contact with those droplets is susceptible to getting the virus. 

Besides droplets in the air, another method that the virus is able to be transmitted is through surface contamination. If a surface has the live virus on it and a person touches that surface then touches their face, nose, mouth, or eyes, they can then transfer the virus to themselves. 

The spread of the virus transmits from person to person much like the flu, but medical officials in the World Health Organization and the lead doctor on Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have indicated that current data shows that the coronavirus is more contagious than the seasonal flu. 

Coronavirus Spreads at 13 Feet and Via Shoes

men wearing masks

The droplets that contain the virus were previously thought to spread at a distance of six feet, but conflicting reports now indicate that it could be a little over double that. The research in the Emerging Infection Disease journal is grounded in the cases that emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and the early months of 2020. 

Research also shows that another alarm in the method of transmission is through the soles of shoes of people who come in contact with the virus. The study highlights that the soles of shoes in the healthcare workers in Wuhan, China, were infected by SARS-CoV-2, a similar outbreak caused by the same virus responsible for COVID-19.

Researchers point out that the healthcare workers tracked the virus on their feet and moved it into areas that would have otherwise not been infected. The study states: 

The rate of positivity was relatively high for floor swab samples (ICU 7/10, 70%; GW 2/13, 15.4%), perhaps because of gravity and air flow causing most virus droplets to float to the ground. In addition, as medical staff walk around the ward, the virus can be tracked all over the floor, as indicated by the 100% rate of positivity from the floor in the pharmacy, where there were no patients.

What Does This Mean? 

While this new information on transmission is alarming, it further highlights the importance of staying at home. When you stay home, you diminish your risk of being infected with the virus because isolation is the first line of defense. 

If you do have to go out, your next line of defense is distancing yourself from others and keeping your hands off of potentially contaminated surfaces. Many people are implementing the practice of wearing gloves when they go out to the grocery store or to the gas pump. 

While wearing gloves can be a protective measure, the gloves can only be helpful if users do not cross-contaminate when wearing them. For example, if you go shopping with gloves on, touching a questionable shopping cart with your glove-covered hand then touching the produce, your phone, or your face will only spread the germs from the shopping cart to the new locations that you touched, rendering the gloves useless. When in doubt, keep washing your hands. 

What do you think of this latest research? What are the methods you're using to keep yourself safe? Tell us in the comments!