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Coronavirus can spread more than 6 feet in certain conditions, CDC warns

The novel infectious-disease is capable of spreading more than six feet through the air in certain instances, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In an update posted Friday, the CDC on its page entitled “Scientific Brief: SARS-CoV-2 Transmission” warned of “repeatedly documented” instances of the novel virus spreading through the air to people more than six feet away.  

“With increasing distance from the source, the role of inhalation likewise increases,” the CDC said. “Although infections through inhalation at distances greater than six feet from an infectious source are less likely than at closer distances, the phenomenon has been repeatedly documented under certain preventable circumstances.”

“These transmission events have involved the presence of an infectious person exhaling virus indoors for an extended time (more than 15 minutes and in some cases hours) leading to virus concentrations in the air space sufficient to transmit infections to people more than 6 feet away, and in some cases to people who have passed through that space soon after the infectious person left,” the federal health agency continued. 


The CDC proceeded to note several circumstances where this occurrence is more likely, such as in enclosed spaces with “inadequate ventilation or air handling within which the concentration of exhaled respiratory fluids, especially very fine droplets, and aerosol particles, can build up in the air space.”

Other instances include “increased exhalation of respiratory fluids” from the infected person, such as if they are exercising, shouting, or singing, per the CDC. 

“Prolonged exposure to these conditions, typically more than 15 minutes,” was also cited as a factor that increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection under such circumstances. 


The update comes after the CDC in October revised its coronavirus guidance to acknowledge the potential for infection through virus-laden particles lingering in the air in enclosed areas with poor ventilation. 

“Although how we understand transmission occurs has shifted, the ways to prevent infection with this virus have not,” the CDC said in its update posted Friday. “All prevention measures that CDC recommends remain effective for these forms of transmission,” such as wearing a face mask in crowded spaces, frequently washing your hands, and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, per the federal health agency. 

Fox News’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report. 

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