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Where did ‘6 feet’ of social distancing come from?

A sign informs golfers to practice social distancing at the Mt. Prospect Golf Club on May 1, 2020 in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Health officials recommended 6 feet of social distancing since the start of the pandemic. This, they say, mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission. But how did researchers come up with that number?

There’s science behind it. 

Data supports this distance decreases virus transmission; it works for protection against infection. Dr. Christopher Doehring, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health, explains. 

“The World Health Organization has done some research that shows about one meter is about the minimum distance, and so when you double that to about 6 feet the risk of spreading from person to person drops even more,” Doehring said. 

He went on to say that both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the 6 feet of social distance even though the cut off was one meter, or a little over 3 feet. Doubling the distance, Doehring says, is a good idea and will continue to help keep us safe from infection. 

Dr. Caroline Rouse, right, and Dr. Samantha Heywood, both Indiana University Health gynecologists, speak during a state legislative hearing Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Tom Davies)

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