SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A group of 239 scientists from more than 30 countries have gotten the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health agencies to update guidelines saying there can be potential spread of COVID-19 through inhalation of small particles lingering in the air.
We’ve known since the very beginning that social distancing is key to making sure you don’t breathe in any germs from others, but how much we have to social distance and how that changes indoors can vary depending on whether you are inside or outside.
The droplets that leave a person’s mouth can infect someone and can come from coughs or sneezes or even talking loudly, singing or heavy breathing.
“They can go 12 feet, and they hang in the air. In less, well-ventilated areas, they tend to just kind of hang there for a while, and this is true in crowded areas outside, as well,” explained Dr. Jay Wolfson, a Public Health Medicine Professor at the University of South Florida.
This new research proves that these droplets can travel much farther than the original 6 feet that we first thought. Plus, the tiny aerosol particles can potentially get caught up in the circulation system of a room – infecting people throughout the whole space.
So how much should we be social distancing now?
“Ten, twelve, fifteen feet of groups of people. If you cough in the air when you walk by somebody, the likelihood is marginal. Remember, we said that the calculus is congestion, proximity and time. You have to have the time exposed and the closeness,” said Dr. Wolfson.
Health experts are saying everyone should always wear a mask indoors. When outdoors, make sure you stay at least 20 feet from others, and if you can’t wear a mask.
“Wear a seat belt when you drive, strap your kid into the car seat, and wear a mask and practice social distancing. Protect yourself and others,” Dr. Wolfson expressed.
Although masks are not mandatory everywhere right now, many businesses across the Suncoast are enforcing this rule if the local government has not.
There are several towns and cities on the Suncoast that have mask ordinances in place, however neither Sarasota nor Manatee Counties have made it mandatory.