Experts say 6 feet of social distancing is not enough to stop spread of coronavirus

Posted at 10:35 AM, Apr 03, 2020

DENVER, Colo. — For weeks, health officials, lawmakers and doctors have warned us to practice 6 feet of social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus, but some experts are saying that’s not enough.

“What I am doing myself is I am keeping 25 feet from anyone,” said Jose Jimenez, a chemistry professor at CU Boulder.

Jimenez is one of 37 scientists that wrote a letter to the World Health Organization about the effectiveness of social distancing six feet. He says 10 or even 15 feet would be safer.

“When you talk, instead of just plain breathing, or when you sing and the air is coming out of your lungs more strongly, then more particles are generated so more viruses are going to end up in the air,” Jimenez said.

Joshua Santarpia, a professor of Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, recently found air samples taken in the hallway of quarantined COVID-19 patients tested positive for the virus.

“COVID-19 can be spread through some sort of respiration the argument, comes down to very small particles or large droplets,” Santarpia said.

He and a team of researchers found the virus tested positive on surfaces like hospital bedside tables, window ledges, toilets and in air samples taken as far as the hallway. They believe the virus is being dragged out of the room as doctors move in and out.

Those findings changed the way doctors at University of Nebraska Medical Center treat patients in the COVID-19 ward of the hospital.

“We would wear PPE when we went into the room, out of the room and into the next room,” Santarpia said. “As we started looking into this study one of the things we changed is we take off all of our surface PPE except respiratory protection as we leave the room.”

Santarpia says he is now working on research to determine how contagious those air samples are.

This story was originally published by Jessica Porter at KMGH.