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Social Distance Amounts Illustrated, Revised

posted in: Pandemic

For months I’ve wondered how far apart I really am when I’m around people, so I solicited volunteer models to help me demonstrate distances in photos. Via the Greenbelters Facebook Group, John Zale and Hannah Ruth stepped up and joined me in the open area of 5 Ridge Road.

We all instinctively felt that 6 feet is TOO CLOSE.


This looks like the minimum distance I’ve been aiming for when talking to people on my daily walk.

It’s still possible to talk at this distance – with your outdoor voice.

Are 6 Feet Enough?

The 6-feet rule dates back to when scientists thought Covid was only transmitted in visible droplets in the air, which droplets quickly fall to the ground. But since the mounting evidence that it’s also transmitted by much smaller particles – aerosols – and that those smaller particles can linger for hours in the air, it’s looking like we need more distance than that, even when we’re outdoors.

In fact, this expert in aerosols recommends that if we hang out with friends and talk for a while, it should be outdoors, 10 feet apart, and with masks on. She recommends not hanging out with people indoors at any distance, given the fact that most air handling systems recirculate instead of bringing in fresh air.

She’s worth a listen.

Professor Kimberly Prather, PhD, Distinguished Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry at UC San Diego


NOTE: By contributing these pandemic stories, photos, et cetera, Greenbelters are making an unconditional donation of the material to the nonprofit Greenbelt Online.org and the Greenbelt Museum/City of Greenbelt, which reserve the right to keep, lend, or otherwise dispose of the donated material, and may use the material on our website, for social media or other postings, in promotional materials or in future exhibits.

Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct the nonprofit Good Gardening Videos.org.”

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