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Researcher says droplets carrying COVID-19 can travel up to 27 feet

4 months 6 days 10 hours ago Wednesday, April 08 2020 Apr 8, 2020 April 08, 2020 8:31 PM April 08, 2020 in News
Source: USA Today

CAMBRIDGE, MA.- A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says 6 ft. is simply not enough distance between people to avoid catching COVID-19.

Lydia Bourouiba, associate professor at MIT, has researched the dynamics of exhalations such as coughs, sneezes, and yawns for years at The Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory. Studies show exhalations cause gaseous clouds that can travel up to 27 feet.

Bourouiba's research could have implications for the global COVID-19 pandemic, though measures called for by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization call for six and three feet of space.

“There’s an urgency in revising the guidelines currently being given by the WHO and the CDC on the needs for protective equipment, particularly for the frontline health care workers,” Bourouiba said.

Her research calls for improved measures to protect healthcare workers and potentially, more distance from infected people who are coughing or sneezing.

She said current guidelines are based on large droplets as the method of transmission for the virus and the idea that those large droplets can only go a certain distance.

"Peak exhalation speeds can reach 33 to 100 feet per second and currently used surgical and N95 masks are not tested for these potential characteristics of respiratory emissions," Bourouiba said.

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