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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Six Feet Apart? That May Not Be Nearly Enough In A Restaurant, Study Suggests

Elena Abrazhevich
Adobe Stock

Indoor dining is allowed across the Mountain West. But new research shows that even with current social distancing guidelines, the coronavirus can spread easily inside restaurants.

  Listen to this story.

The study, published in the Journal of Korean Medical Medicine, found that it’s possible for an infected person to spread the virus to someone more than 20 feet away in just five minutes. That can happen if there’s direct airflow – from a fan or air conditioner, for example – between the two people.

Dr. Linsey Marr, who studies the transmissions of viruses in the air at Virginia Tech, says the research shows dining indoors can be extremely risky.

“People go to restaurants to socialize, and when we talk, we release 10 times more aerosol into the air than when we’re just breathing,” Marr said.

Across the region, some states have restaurant capacity caps, but Marr says that doesn’t necessarily help.

“The capacity limit would not have prevented this from happening,” she said.

What would have prevented it? Ordering takeout.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2021 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.

Stephanie Serrano is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno and a Latina born and raised in Reno, Nevada. She joins KUNR as our bilingual news intern for the spring of 2017. It's a special position supported by the Pack Internship Grant Program, KUNR, and Noticiero Movil, a bilingual multimedia news source that's part of the Reynolds School of Journalism.

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