6 feet, 6 feet, keep your distance––we’re constantly hearing this PSA online, whether it’s in the form of news or memes on social media. But why exactly does social distancing entail this particular degree of separation from another individual? First of all, let me just clearly state that there is no scientific evidence that substantiates that if you stand within 6 feet of someone, your risk exposure decreases. Even Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, states that even though social distancing can work, it has its limitations:
“Without a cough or a sneeze, if we exhale, the distance 3 to 6 feet from each other is called the breathing zone. And it's in that kind of volume of air that what I exhale begins to mix with the air that's already in the room. So if you're standing within 3 to 6 feet of me, you may well inhale some of what I exhale. And of course if I have the virus, what I'm exhaling microscopically contains the virus."
In a previous article, I mentioned that According to tests conducted by the US government, the virus can stay on surfaces for up to 3 days, and can last in the air for several hours even after aerosolization. This basically means that the 6-foot rule is useless if you sneeze or cough in the presence of someone while indoors. Not to mention that the general public cares not about this guideline, as people continue to go out to parks and on walks with friends while gathering in close proximity to one another. And let me be frank––until the government makes it a criminal act to violate this cute CDC guideline, most people (besides the saints), will ignore it. Moreover, since law enforcement has not been given authorization (I believe thus far) to enforce these measures, it gives people all the more reason to neglect it.
The concept of social distancing isn’t the only cute guideline that the CDC has tried to encourage (lest I say force), us to follow. Not too long ago, when public gatherings had not yet been made a thing of the past, the CDC announced that groups of more than 250 should not gather, later dropping that number to 10, and now, zero as a result of stay-at-home orders. So, let me pose this question: would it make a difference, then, if it were 249 people who gathered together? Would that be safe? And where is the science to actually substantiate this public get-together threshold? Well, there isn’t, my friends. In fact, experts themselves have even stated that there is no “magic number.”
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t practice social distancing. But it will not solve the problem, and the 6-foot rule definitely will not be followed without actual enforcement.