According to a recent study released by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you are no safer from COVID-19 indoors at 6 feet or 60 feet, calling social distance policies into question.
The research, led by Martin Z. Bazant, a chemical engineering and applied mathematics instructor, and John W.M. Bush, an applied mathematics professor, contends that “there isn’t much of an advantage to the 6-foot rule, particularly when people are wearing masks,” according to Bazant.
“It has no physical basis because the air a person breathes when wearing a mask rises and falls elsewhere in the room, so you’re more open to the average background than you are to a person at a distance,” he added.
According to the report, contrary to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization claims, spending time indoors with an infected person puts you at risk due to air currents moving in the background.
According to the researchers, opening windows and adding fans is just as effective as spending a lot of money on costly air filters.
Researchers also claimed that indoor occupancy limits were flawed, claiming that 20 people gathered inside for one minute would be perfect.
“Our research continues to show that many of the spaces that have been closed do not need to be,” Bazant told CNBC. “Frequently, the room is big enough; the ventilation is adequate; the amount of time people spend together is such that can safely run those spaces even at total capacity, and the scientific support for reduced capacity in those spaces is lacking.
If you run the math, you’d find that occupancy limits aren’t necessary for several types of areas right now. “This focus on distance has been misplaced from the start,” he added.
“The CDC or which has never really justified it, they’ve just said this is what you have to do, and the only reason I’m aware of is focused on studies of coughs and sneezes, where they look at the largest particles that could sediment into the surface, and even then it’s very approximate, you can certainly have a longer or shorter range, big droplets.
Infected air would be washed away and would be very unlikely to cause transmission. There have been very few recorded cases of outdoor transmission. Outdoor crowding may be a problem. Even if people keep a safe distance of around 3 feet outside, I feel relatively relaxed even without masks.”
“We need scientific knowledge communicated to the public in a way that is not focused solely on fear,” Bazant said.