Social Distancing

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  • Originally proposed in 1897 by Carl Flügge, a German bacteriologist who studied the movement patterns of fluid droplets expelled from the mouth when speaking, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Found that visible fluid droplets containing pathogens travel approximately six feet.
  • 1940’s bacterium study confirmed this, but it also demonstrated that 10% of people produce droplets that go 9.5 ft.
  • 8 of 10 recent studies demonstrate droplets travel > 6ft.
    • One study showed an indoor sneeze traveling 20-26 ft.
  • Oversimplification of the particle physics is a problem.
    • It depends on various factors such as air flow modeling, temperature, viral survival, required critical viral load to cause infection, the type of virus, etc.
    • 3 ft or 6 ft. may not be enough in some conditions, which is unsafe.
    • In other cases, 6 ft. may be excessive and simply harmful to social, commercial, or other safety objectives.
    • Distancing is in itself not a perfect solution by itself unless is it strict enough to be considered a quarantine.
      • Note:  Quarantines involve isolated a sick person.  Lockdowns include everyone (the healthy).  Social distancing is a hybrid strategy that is between unrestricted contact and quarantines/total lockdowns.
      • Lockdowns have similarly proven to be ineffective.
  • Also, older studies were all based on “large droplets”.
  • Critical viral loads are carried by aerosolized respiratory droplets which cannot be seen by the naked eye.
    • Spread of aerosolized droplets depends on many more things (talking vs. sneezing).
    • Air currents greatly affect aerosols.
    • Aerosols can remain in the air for up to 16 hrs.
  • There is not a one-size-fits-all number for social distancing.
    • There are too many factors to make it practical for social regulation.
    • It is not effective enough to be considered protection.
    • It might be best to quarantine sick people instead.

Most older studies focus on large droplets but viruses spread mostly by aerosolized respiratory droplets.

Social Distancing articles

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