New CDC Report Says Coronavirus Can Travel 13 Feet Through The Air, Spread On People’s Shoes

A picture of a hospital in New York City.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty Images

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the coronavirus is able to travel up to 13 feet through the air and can spread around on people’s shoes, appearing to go beyond initial suggestions that six feet of distance is safe.

As The New York Post reported, the new research was shared in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal that is published by the CDC. It found that the virus is able to spread through the air more than twice as far as previously thought, and that signs of the deadly virus were found on the shoes of medical staff in a hospital intensive care unit.

This suggested that medical professionals have the capability to spread the coronavirus far outside the confines of the hospital.

“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers,” the report noted.

The report was based on research from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China, and the New York Post noted that it seemed to “reaffirm fears that the current social distancing guidelines of 6 feet may not be enough.”

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There has already been evidence of the coronavirus spreading without any close human contact. While medical professionals have generally advised people to maintain a distance of six feet from others and to wash hands regularly, some have hinted that even contact-free interactions may not be safe.

As WCNC reported, a North Carolina woman tested positive for COVID-19 despite not leaving her home in more than three weeks. The woman, Rachel Brummert, said she has been careful to wear gloves when retrieving her mail, but forgot to wear them once while bringing in a package from her porch, and believes she contracted the virus that way.

As the New York Post’s report noted, there had been some previous research suggesting that the coronavirus could travel even farther than 13 feet, including one study that found it could travel 27 feet through the air.

This was contested by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert in infectious diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, who said that it would require a “very, very robust, vigorous, achoo sneeze” to cause the virus to travel so far.

There have been other, more positive studies on the coronavirus, including one German study that suggested the disease is not as deadly as initially thought and that a significant number of people tested positive for antibodies without having ever known that they contracted the virus.