On Monday, the nation’s health protection agency announced that contrary to former belief, COVID-19 can spread at distances even greater than six feet, mainly in poorly-ventilated and closed-off spaces. This troubling information reveals that Americans following CDC social distancing guidelines of remaining six feet apart from others for the past six months, may still haven been putting themselves at risk. Some health experts have even accused the CDC of downplaying just how easily the novel virus can spread, saying the public’s best bet is to stay at minimum six feet away from othersand even further, when possible. 

Soon after the first COVID-19 cases were recorded in January, the CDC determined the virus spreads from person to person, mainly through airborne respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The organization established six feet as a safe distance to maintain between each other, but this news reveals it’s more complicated than that.

“[The virus] is traveling through the air and there is no bright line. You're not safe beyond 6 feet. You can't take your mask off at 6 feet," said Dr. Donald Milton of the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

cdc coronavirus airborne

A cleaning crew wearing protective clothing takes disinfecting equipment into a nursing home, in Kirkland, Washington - John Moore/Getty Images

An update on the CDC’s website disclosed that recent research has demonstrated that even people who maintained a distance greater than six feet, still got infected. Usually in these instances, it involved activities such as singing or heavy-breathing exercises, which were performed in small or enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. 

The U.S. COVID-19 case count has reached 7.5 million, with the death toll now standing at 210,000 confirmed deaths. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania are among the latest Americans to contract the virus, and although Trump is reportedly doing better and left Walter-Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, a video taken shortly after his return to the White House depicts him struggling to breathe, making the state of his condition even more unclear to the public.