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UF researchers confirm the coronavirus can infect at greater distance

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 8:52 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Six feet away not enough?

According to researchers at the University of Florida, the social distancing guidelines may need to be adjusted. By isolating a live virus, the UF team found that COVID-19 could be infectious through airborne aerosols, traveling at a greater distance.

Not only was the virus detected at six feet away, but it was detected by as far as 16 feet from the infected patient.

“You should never let your guard down,” said UF Virologist Dr. John Lednicky. “Social distancing is very important because the closer you get to someone who’s producing a virus, whether they are sick or not, the higher the risk. The risk is at zero if you get more than a few feet away because there’s these infectious particles in the air that you might breathe in.”

Part of the reason for this new discovery is because of a new testing method.

Researchers say by encasing the virus in a droplet of water when it is drawn into a detection machine, it preserves the virus so they can test it to see if it was viable. Previous detection methods would destroy the virus making it difficult to tell if it was capable of infecting someone from that far away.

The team collected the air samples from a room in the COVID-19 ward at Shands Hospital.

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