General Question

crazyguy's avatar

Do you think there is any science behind the 6 ft physical distancing rule?

Asked by crazyguy (2675points) 3 weeks ago

I have realized from the beginning that most of the so-called ‘science’ behind Covid is imaginary. Over the last year or so, we have learnt that:

1. Surface spread is minimal.
2. Winter weather has minimal impact.
3. We don’t really know what causes spikes.
4. Reopening schools was always a political decision.

However, most of us, including me, thought there was real science behind the 6-ft rule. Doubts about that rule emerged with the Guangzhou restaurant which saw spread well beyond 6 feet. See https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/7/20-0764_article

However, our CDC and the great Fauci pushed the 6-ft spacing so much that it became a standard precaution.

Recently I have started looking into the science. I found the article linked below which says the 6-ft rule is just a dogma!
https://www.businessinsider.com/6-foot-distancing-rule-is-outdated-oxford-mit-new-system-2020-8

What do you think?

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61 Answers

KRD's avatar

No. Sneezes and coughs can travel 20 ft!

ragingloli's avatar

I know, right? They do not even tell us, whose foot they are basing it off!

hello321's avatar

@crazyguy is in favor of 20ft distancing? 50ft? A mile?

Demosthenes's avatar

I think it’s just a practical precaution to make transmission of the virus less likely. We know it’s spread between people in the air; masks and distancing make that less likely to happen. A larger distance is unrealistic. Six feet was chosen because it’s manageable and it’s better than no distancing.

JLeslie's avatar

A little more than six is actually better, but realistically six feet is easier to judge and maintain considering people are used to being much closer in most cultures. People have trouble with staying even six feet apart, they drift closer. The science is regarding how long droplets take to be pulled down by gravity. We are trying to limit how much infection will be hitting the other person if one person is infected. It’s not about sneezes and coughs, it has to do with just breathing and talking. A sneeze and cough travel much farther and create more aerosolized particles. The 6 feet, or 2 meters, is easy to remember and estimate, a little more than two arms length, and was initially put out there when masks were scarce. In America we worried about health care workers having enough masks, but in all countries people needed time to buy or acquire masks. The scientists initially gave advice based on basic science about viruses.

We absolutely know what causes spikes. It is completely obvious. People getting together and someone is already infected and n their way to getting sick.

Spike for Thanksgiving, spike continues with Christmas. Back last year, spike following Memorial Day. Right now we risk a spike during spring breaks. Where I live we had a spike after the 10,000 person Trump rally. I actually know one of the clusters, my friend’s neighbors always get together without masks and completely ignore any covid warnings. 7 of them caught and gave each other covid after some of them went to the rally. 2 had to be hospitalized. We had a cluster here after a garage sale. We have had clusters after parties and also friends eating in restaurants or bowling. Actually many have been from eating together, and I know of 3 separate groups of people due to bowling together, there might be more. Indoors is the worst problem, but it happens outside too when people are close together for a prolonged interaction. Too many people here think being outside is completely safe, but it isn’t. Still need to be cautious.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think this question is more trollish than anything else. The goal isn’t to get an answer – the goal is to rabble rouse and lord wisdom over us.

Distance helps reduce spread. That’s a given. I think that 6 feet was an educated guess eleven months ago. We have done a lot science since then. We have had a lot of people vaccinated since then. Six feet may or not be accurate today; that is experimentation that needs to be done.

gorillapaws's avatar

There’s a balance between accuracy and having simple policies that are easily understandable. Asking people to follow a 72-cell matrix based on a gaussian transmission table may follow the science more closely, but it’s not an effective tool for public health policy. We can’t even get people to wear masks.

zenvelo's avatar

This is a bogus statement: I have realized from the beginning that most of the so-called ‘science’ behind Covid is imaginary.

It isn’t that Winter weather has minimal impact, it was Trump saying warm weather will wipe it out that was false.

We do know what causes spikes: gatherings of people in close proximity to each other while not wearing masks and taking other precautions.

Surface spread is real, just not as much as originally feared. That’s why people are still wiping down surfaces, using hand sanitizer, and washing their hands.

Reopening schools is a public health issue, because children in the schools that have remained open (such as where the Kushner kids went) have been proven as vectors for transmission.

6 feet was an early estimation of spread of exhaled particles. Later science has proven it to actually be a larger distance.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

6 feet in minimum and 20 foot would be better or don’t go out and mingle with 50 or 60 people you don’t know.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Let’s discuss the science behind half a million corpses, and the multitudes of skeptical dead folks who took this disease for granted. The point is to avoid CLOSE contact with PEOPLE! The smart move is to avoid ALL contact with people. 10 feet is better than 6. 20 is better than 10. And perfect is to park your silly ass at home to ask inane and ridiculous questions on flutter.

AK's avatar

I don’t think there’s any science that derives 6 feet as the exact distance needed to stop the spread. I think they’re just giving us a ball park. Of course, it is scientifically proven that staying farther apart drastically reduces the chances of contagious spreading but exactly 6 feet apart? I haven’t seen any study or reports on that.

Zaku's avatar

World War Two killed fewer Americans than COVID-19 has so far. To solve that crisis, we infringed on the freedom of many people by sending them overseas to fight. Compare that to Trumptards unwilling to wear masks, and whining nonsense questions about health professionals’ guidelines.

dabbler's avatar

ALL of the recommended precautions are proven (thanks, science!) to be effective for diseases that have enough similarity to COVID that there was some possibility they each would help.
Based on scant data early on, actual experts gave advice based on actual science.

@crazyguy You’re basing your doubts of expert advice today on best efforts a year ago, what’s the point of that? Nobody claimed a year ago that they understand everything about COVID or that their advice was rock-solid. Some of what they thought was going on, based on the limited data available then, we now know was just wrong. No that’s not an excuse to dismiss science or experts. It’s how science works, new data lead to better understandings lead to new best advice.
Doubt science? Of Course! That is an essential part of the scientific process, test all premises and conclusions every way you can think of. Doubt should lead to thoughtful useful questions that can help verify or bust a hypothesis.

No excuse to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) based on irrational expectations from science – talk about a witch hunt.

Darth_Algar's avatar

You can’t argue with Cray-Cray Guy folks. He got his degree in epidemiology from the prestigious Dunning-Kruger University!

Pandora's avatar

I always understood the 6 ft rule was also while both people wore masks and never took it as a foolproof preventative. It’s like saying don’t bother to wash your hands coming out of the bathroom if you are going to lather your hands for 10 seconds and not the full 20 that is recommended. Foolproof, of not spreading the disease, is not going anywhere there are people. Pretty sure not everyone is a hermit that grows their own food. So the only thing that is possible is to minimize. Wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart while wearing a mask will minimize your chances. It’s not rocket science.

flutherother's avatar

The six foot “rule” is a compromise. If you have no social mixing at all the virus will burn itself out in a couple of months as was the case in China last year. The more people mix the faster the virus will spread and the greater the danger of hospitals being overwhelmed and the longer it will take to get things under control. What restrictions, if any, should be imposed is a political decision and your beef should be with the politicians rather than the scientists.

crazyguy's avatar

All, thank you for your answers. A double thank you if you actually went to the links I posted.

kritiper's avatar

I, for one, don’t do links. It takes too much time to download. If an OP can’t type out the whole POV in their question, I ignore it. Just sayin’...

crazyguy's avatar

@kritiper Exactly what I thought….

crazyguy's avatar

@zenvelo Are you saying that no connection was ever made between the weather and covid resurgence? Since you don’t do links, here is a sample story:

Winter is fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, and researchers warn that COVID-19 outbreaks are likely to get worse, especially in regions that don’t have the virus’s spread under control.

“This virus is going to have a heyday,” says David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford University in California. “We are looking at some pretty sobering and difficult months ahead.”

crazyguy's avatar

@zenvelo In case you do links, here is the link for my last quote:
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02972-4

crazyguy's avatar

@flutherother It is not a compromise, it is a wild-ass guess, based on discredited theorizing from 1880!

crazyguy's avatar

@Pandora The 6 ft rule played into the teachers’ unions insisting on keeping schools closed until the mythical 6 feet could be guaranteed.

crazyguy's avatar

@dabbler I agree that science is uncertain. However, decisions were made based on inexact science that proved incredibly damaging to us. And they were not reversed when better information became available,

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crazyguy's avatar

@AK There is a relatively new study linked below that shows 3-ft distancing is just as good as 6 ft. Why don’t we see Fauci and others touting its results?
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/14/health/Covid-schools-social-distancing-3-feet.html

crazyguy's avatar

@gorillapaws I agree that the guidelines have to be relatively straightforward to follow. However, should we err on the side of maximum damage to the economy or take a more reasoned approach?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@crazyguy + + + Why do you have four to six times and many “answers” as anyone else to your posts ?

crazyguy's avatar

@elbanditoroso You say: “Distance helps reduce spread. ” Therefore, why not go with 20 feet? As Fauci made clear in his response to the right number for herd immunity, he goes by what people may accept. SOME SCIENCE!

crazyguy's avatar

@JLeslie I am about 5 ft 7” tall, not quite six feet. However, I can judge 3 feet a lot easier than 6 feet. So your explanation does not convince me.

I really wouldn’t care if the recommendation was 3 feet or 20 feet, as long as there was some basis to it. What we are finding out that 6 feet was based on the theory developed by a long-dead German scientist, and did real damage to school reopening.

Of course, that happened to be under the previous President, so it suited your agenda.

crazyguy's avatar

@Demosthenes If six feet was an arbitrary number why were schoolteachers allowed to insist on not reopening schools until 6 feet social distance could be guaranteed?

crazyguy's avatar

@KRD I would feel better with 20 ft instead of a mythical 6 ft, which has no basis at all.

Pandora's avatar

@crazyguy It’s not mythical. Mythical things are fairy tales. A compromise on science doesn’t mean that it a fictional notion. I can’t guarantee that you driving 55 miles per hour won’t die in an accident, no more than I can guarantee you won’t die in an accident going 25 miles or 125mp. The lower the speed the less likely you are to die, and the higher the speed the more likely you to die. There are millions of variables in an accident that can change the outcome of death or even harm. Type of car, seatbelt, and weather conditions and did you hit an on coming car or and immovable object. But because some people may die even with all the safe guards going 25 miles per hour, doesn’t make the rest fictional.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Six feet or ten, it is a petty matter debating optimal distance, one of those “angels on the head of a pin” disputes that in fact trivializes a deadly serious epidemic to an argument over baseball statistics. I am certain that within the year past, not a soul here has managed to stay 6 feet away from every single human being. The message is to take this disease for the threat it is and do your best to mask up and avoid people. To sit here and tell us that since you have been inoculated, you are no longer capable of carrying and transmitting the disease borders on criminal neglect.

JLeslie's avatar

I’d say when my husband talks it is 5. When my dad talks it is 10. My dad tends to raise his voice.

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flutherother's avatar

@crazyguy The article you quote doesn’t say there is no science behind the 6 foot rule. It actually explains what the science is if you read it.

zenvelo's avatar

@crazyguy And there was a spike in infections from November through the end of January, and again when very bad weather hit various regions of the country. The same thing affects flu and cold infections every year. It is a matter of people staying indoors and infecting each other.

crazyguy's avatar

@flutherother It was an approximate estimate made 80 YEARS AGO! Here is a quote from the link:

“The dogma was born,” the professor Lidia Morawska, a leading aerosol scientist in Australia, said of the 80-year-old 6-foot rule. “Like any dogma, it’s extremely difficult to change people’s minds and change the dogmas.”

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dabbler's avatar

@crazyguy “approximate estimate made 80 YEARS AGO” c’mon, even you must realize how ignorant that statement is of all the investigations done, especially just in the past year, about range of hazard and effectiveness of masks to help prevent transmission.

Six feet was always an approximate distance, and all the recent studies show it’s still useful. The point has always been Keep Your Distance, not whether it’s 72 inches or 82 inches. In confined spaces six feet is Not enough, outdoors it matters a lot less.

Don’t blame science or the scientists if you can’t apply their guidance with common sense.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I find the ‘80-year-old advice’ argument rather silly.

You have zillions of people obeying 2000-year-old-advice from a dead Jewish malcontent every day. That’s considerably longer than 80 years. And yet people take those words as Gospel. (pun intended).

Good advice is good advice.

hard to believe, but I actually agree with @crazyguy here

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crazyguy's avatar

@dabbler Please point to the investigations done in the past year that proved conclusively that 6 feet is the right social distance. I personally do not care if you call it six feet or 100 feet. However, the fact that the insistence upon six feet kept schools from reopening does bother me.

crazyguy's avatar

@elbanditoroso I misstated my objection. I was not complaining about the rule being 80 years old, I was bitching about the lack of science. Apparently, the rule that was used so effectively by the teachers’ unions, had ZERO scientific basis even 80 years ago.

JLeslie's avatar

@crazyguy WITH MASKS. Plus, children tend to be less contagious than adults.

The original six feet was without masks.

crazyguy's avatar

@JLeslie You are wrong. It was always with masks.

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JLeslie's avatar

@crazyguy The schools?

In March we were told to distance and given a guideline of 6 feet. Then when we were finally told to wear masks we were told to wear a mask especially if we could not distance.

JLeslie's avatar

@crazyguy Ok, you are talking about the schools, not general guidance to the greater population. I was talking originally we were told six feet back in March, but I was not talking about schools.

As far as the schools, there are examples all over the world and the country for them to learn from, and now a study was done for 3 feet with masks that worked, so that sounds reasonable to me. I was always ok with schools opening and always ok with parents choosing whether to send their children in person or not. If they found 3 feet is sufficient that’s great. Now, more adults are vaccinated too, so everything is moving in the right direction.

crazyguy's avatar

@JLeslie The fact that 3 ft spacing is ok in schools has been known for months. Unfortunately, the teachers unions proved too strong even for the previous President. Biden is, of course, completely helpless in the face of progressive demands.

JLeslie's avatar

@crazyguy It doesn’t surprise me at all that teachers and unions might be ignoring information like that. Schools still have teenagers starting school at 7:00am even though every study shows it’s detrimental. Looks like at least one school system was listening regarding the 3 feet.

crazyguy's avatar

@JLeslie In spite of their close-to-criminal actions, the teachers unions still have Biden’s ear. Surely you have to wonder why….

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