Short people have had a tough time of it since basketball was invented and Randy Newman sang a mean-spirited song about them in 1977. And lest you think I’m being heightist in saying so, I should point out that, from a basketball perspective, anyone who is less than 6’1″ apparently is considered short–which puts me squarely into the “short people” category.
Now short people have something else to worry about: a Singapore study concludes that shorter people (in this case, people shorter than 5’5″) are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. The study found that COVID-infected droplets that are expelled by a sneeze or cough tend to fall slowly to the ground, and the downward trajectory supposedly puts the height-challenged among us at greater peril of breathing in the droplets. The study recommends that short people maintain an even greater than normal social distance from taller people–two meters, which equates to a bit over 6.5 feet–to avoid being caught in the droplet fallout zone and wear masks, too. The study has been published in the Physics of Fluids.
Far be it from me to question a scientific study, but color me skeptical on this finding. I’m not sure that all sneezes and coughs propel downward, but in any case, isn’t there an easy way of testing this hypothesis? Has any seven-footer become infected by COVID? And are the heights of COVID hospital patients out of whack with the spread of heights in the population at large?
One of the problems with our current atmosphere is that alarming (and often dubious) information about COVID, and the delta variant, get published every day. Before we start telling short people that they are at greater risk of contracting COVID, shouldn’t we do a bit more research to confirm that we’ve got it right, rather scaring the dickens out of the portion of the population that tops out at below 5’5″?