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Coronavirus can travel as much as 13 feet: CDC study

At Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, nurses treat a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 in an isolation room on March 26, 2020. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new research of air samples of hospitals with coronavirus patients found the virus can travel up to 13 feet.

The researchers, from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, tested surface and air samples from an intensive care unit and a ward that housed coronavirus patients at a hospital in Wuhan between Feb. 19 and March 2.

The highest concentrations of the virus were on floors, doorknobs, bed rails, trash cans and other areas and items that receive a lot of contact.

“Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive,” the team wrote. “Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers.”

The researchers also found that small concentrations virus-laden aerosols could remain suspended in the air as far as 13 feet away from the infected person, more than twice the recommended 6 feet away. While it isn’t known how contagious the virus is through aerosols, possible risk of an airborne infection led to new CDC guidelines for covering your mouth and nose while in public.

The authors of the study found, encouragingly, that no hospital staffers were infected during the sampled time period.

The new study was published Friday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a CDC journal.


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