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Remember This Every Time You Walk Into a Room, Says COVID Study

Masks are still crucial indoors, says the study.

Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—have encouraged social distancing to the tune of six-feet apart. However, a new report courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology experts claims that when indoors, the recommended distance will not prevent the spread of the virus. Read on for 4 essential slides full of life-saving advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Had COVID and Not Known It.


Six-Feet Apart May Not Be Enough to Protect You

Social distance sign at supermarket.

In the report published Tuesday issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, MIT engineer Martin Bazant and mathematician John Bush explain that while maintaining the six-foot distance will help prevent the spread of COVID carrying large droplets of saliva or mucus, it will not keep you protected from aerosols—those tiny, airborne particles. And, as the CDC previously confirmed, COVID-19 is an airborne virus. 


Exposure Depends on Various Factors

Teacher and children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

The researchers also "quantified" how quickly an individual could be exposed to the virus in a variety of closed settings, taking into account everything from air circulation and factors that can influence contamination—like singing. 

"To minimize risk of infection, one should avoid spending extended periods in highly populated areas. One is safer in rooms with large volume and high ventilation rates," they wrote. "One is at greater risk in rooms where people are exerting themselves in such a way as to increase their respiration rate and pathogen output, for example, by exercising, singing, or shouting. Likewise, masks worn by both infected and susceptible persons will reduce the risk of transmission."

For example, in a classroom of 19 students and one teacher, if there is an infected person in the room, the six-foot rule would be safe for 1.2 hours with natural ventilation and 7.2 hours with mechanical ventilation—if kids are sitting quietly. "Extended periods of physical activity, collective speech, or singing would lower the time limit by an order of magnitude," they pointed out. 


Masks Are Essential When Indoors

people with face masks back at work or school in office after lockdown

"For airborne transmission, social distancing in indoor spaces is not enough, and may provide a false sense of security," Bazant, an MIT chemical engineering professor and the paper's lead author, told The Washington Post

"Efficient mask use is the most effective safety measure, followed by room ventilation, then filtration," added Bush. "And risk increases with the number of occupants and the exposure time, so one should try to spend as little time as possible in crowded indoor spaces."

RELATED: Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick


Do Your Part to End the Pandemic

Young man wearing two face masks.

So keep following Dr. Anythony Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah