Six Feet is Not Enough


Courtesy of OregonLive

Public places suggest people remain six feet apart to social distance, but new evidence shows that six feet is not enough distance for safe social distancing.

Fiona Salisbury, Photojournalist

At this point, six feet has become accepted as the distance required to practice social distancing. Many people meet up following these guidelines, and many businesses have reopened with the requirement of six feet social distancing to ensure safety; however, over the course of the pandemic, experts have suggested that six feet may not be enough to properly social distance. There have been many instances where people have caught COVID-19 from well over six feet, and numerous studies also contradict the commonly believed notion that six feet is enough distance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection, better known as the CDC, states that people should “stay 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.” Even though there are many experts who now say this is outdated due to the fact that six feet social distancing is based on over-simplified experiments, there are even more experts who reinforce the idea that six feet is enough for the public. According to WebMD, original studies observed how large and small droplets traveled, leading to the conclusion that six feet would be sufficient for safe social distancing. This study is flawed due to the fact that droplets have a greater range of sizes, as well as the fact that outside factors can influence how the virus spreads. In contradiction to this study, a new study shows that the virus can spread across nearly twenty-six feet. 

In South Korea, Dr. Lee Ju-hyung conducted his own experiment; he recreated a person contracting COVID-19 while dining at an outdoor dining facility, from an asymptomatic person located around twenty feet away. In the United States, this experiment could have had mixed results due to the fact that the United States lacks the sophisticated contact tracing program utilized in South Korea, but since it was determined that the virus spread in this exact circumstance, without any outside cases, scientists are able to come to the conclusion that the virus can be transmitted from distances much greater than six feet, even when outdoors.

According to Megan Chou (10) “if the research is true, it is really concerning that so many places use six feet as their social distancing guideline because that means that people aren’t as safe as they have been led to believe.” Many schools across the nation open under the conditions of six feet of social distancing, Yorba Linda High School being one of them. Students at school are required to stay six feet apart, but if the numerous studies are accurate, those going to school in person are not guaranteed safety if they continue to practice six feet social distancing. With cases rising rapidly in Orange County, people should be aware that they should try to stay as far away as possible from others if they want to truly practice effective social distancing.