On breezy days, staying six feet (two meters) away from other people may not be enough to avoid saliva droplets containing the new coronavirus, according to two papers published on Tuesday.
In one study, reported in the journal AIP Physics of Fluids, researchers who simulated breezes and winds calculated that under the right conditions, some saliva droplets could travel as far as 18 feet (six meters) from a coughing or sneezing person.
The other report, in the Journal of Aerosol Science, also concludes that the current six-feet social-distancing policy “is not sufficient to protect people” against coronavirus exposure from coughs when it is breezy or windy.
It is not known exactly how much virus it takes for a person to become infected. While studies like these are “important thought experiments,” they may not reflect what is happening in the real world, Dr. Amesh Adalja, from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore told Reuters.
“What we see in the real world is transmission when there is prolonged close contact, such as when people are living in the same household. I don’t think this is a cause to change the public health practices regarding six feet being the distance you want to be separated from another individual.”