The Origin of 6 Feet of Distance

Brownstone Institute
Published on February 8, 2024

You still bump into the stickers from time to time: “Six Feet of Distance.” It’s weird and anachronistic at this point. No one pays any attention anymore. Still it would be nice to know where this came from. Oddly, we don’t really know.

Anthony Fauci was asked this question this week in U.S. House hearings on the COVID response. Incredibly, he didn’t really know how this came about. “It just sort of appeared,” he told the subcommittee, which was an unusual answer since he otherwise said 100 times that he could not remember anything. Here, however, he admits there was never any science behind it.

That’s extremely peculiar. This rule governed all social interaction for two years and more. It wrecked every manner of things, made people feel diseased and isolated, made meetings impossible, and gave rise to a whole ritual of interaction that was utterly alien to the normal human way, including elbow bumps and water-gun baptisms.

It was why schools were so delayed in reopening. They could not guarantee that students would stay apart. It’s why airports were so crowded. Everyone was trying to avoid everyone else. It’s why park benches were roped off, why restroom stalls were operating at 50 percent, and why you could not hold weddings and funerals. This stuff was enforced at all levels of society.

And yet here is the “nation’s leading infectious disease scientist” who took charge of the pandemic response saying that he has no idea where this idea came from.

Back in March 2021, the New York Times, of all egregious venues, got curious about this too. Reporter Emily Anthes asked around the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the mandate and the science behind it.

She quotes Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “It never struck me that six feet was particularly sensical in the context of mitigation. I wish the C.D.C. would just come out and say this is not a major issue.”

She wrote that the origin of the six-foot distancing recommendation is something of a mystery. “It’s almost like it was pulled out of thin air,” said Linsey Marr, an expert on viral transmission at Virginia Tech University.

The journal Clinical and Infectious Diseases even did a large study comparing six feet and three feet of distance. It was published in March 2021. The authors found no statistically significant difference in infection rates. None. They concluded: “Lower physical distancing requirements can be adopted in school settings with masking mandates without negatively affecting student or staff safety.”

Nothing happened. We were stuck with six feet. Once it became an enforced ritual, nothing mattered. Now we know that not even Anthony Fauci knows where it came from.

But come on. Someone had to order this. Who did it? Some low-level bureaucrat? Someone yet unnamed? Whoever it is knows who he or she is. Lots of people know. But no one is speaking up. It seems like there should be a way to get to the bottom of this.

Most likely, it resulted from nothing but irrational germophobia and a made-up way to satiate that impulse. But consider this: one person’s personal eccentricity thus became a rule for the whole nation and world, without a single study to say nothing of a vote or opinion poll. It was just cray cray on mega-steroids, and yet some vendors became very rich printing signs and stickers for millions of businesses, churches, airports, and schools around the country.

It probably happened like the sudden mask mandate in St. Louis, Missouri, last week. Some low-level bureaucrat said it should be done and it was done. There was outrage all around, which is very good news. Beautifully, the whole thing was repealed in 24 hours, and the person who caused all this to happen was ridiculed and denounced. How dare she presume to tell everyone else what to do?

Well, that kind of thing ruled us for two years and longer, just bureaucrats making stuff up. Some of it was impractical but it was also very expensive and damaging. For example, the Plexiglas that suddenly went up everywhere actually trapped pathogens into smaller spaces and inhibited ventilation, in contradiction to their other mandates. Arguably, this mandate made the spread worse. It certainly didn’t mitigate the virus.

It seems as if all these edicts were sort of busy work to keep us alarmed and occupied with stupid antics until the virus arrived. That’s why Fauci didn’t care about them. It’s why the CDC wasn’t particularly interested in the supposed science behind any of this stuff. There never was any science. It was nothing but the imposition of irrational capers on the population to mark time until the great shot arrived. To top it off, the shot didn’t work!

Looking back—and many people don’t want to look back because it is too painful—it seems as if the whole of the public was sold a bill of goods in the name of science. It was baloney no matter which way you slice it. Some of us knew it at the time and called it out. We were denounced, attacked, and censored for saying so.

Is it any wonder that government, media, and science generally are in complete disrepute today, across the whole population and all over the world?

This is why there needs to be some discovery and accountability. We need to know where this stuff came from. It didn’t come from the air or clouds. It was a decision made by human beings, somewhere and based on something. We should know what it is.

If Fauci doesn’t know, who does? The CDC has had three heads during this time: Robert Redfield, Rochelle Walensky, and now Mandy Cohen. They should tell all they know. If they don’t know, they should name the names of others who they think might have done this. Then Congress should ask those people and get them to say who they think it is. We should do this with every single idiotic protocol issued during that period, whether six feet, masks, sanitizer, one-way grocery isles, church closures, Plexiglas, and anything else.

The deeper truth is that the entire paradigm is drawn from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) response to SARS-1 in 2003, which was then embraced by the World Health Organization (WHO). That’s its real origin: it is a communist tactic of political control using infectious disease as the excuse.

This stuff traumatized the nation and the world. It broke everything. Now we have doors flying off airplanes only to find out later that the manufacturer had to lay off lots of mechanics during lockdowns. We have political upheaval in Ecuador, which had very hard lockdowns that demoralized everyone. We have huge absenteeism in public schools everywhere because the kids can no longer be bothered to go to class. We have a massive shortage of actual workers who know how to do stuff because they gave up and retired.

The lockdowns and everything associated with them utterly broke the world. The COVID response set the whole of the civilized world on fire. At the very least, we are owed an explanation for all this, starting with six feet of distance. If we cannot get to the bottom of where this came from, there’s no hope for sorting out the rest of the rigamarole. The investigations have to start somewhere. They should not stop for at least 5–10 years!


Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown


Related Items:

Jeffrey A.Tucker’s interview with David Leis on Leaders on the Frontier can be seen here.

His testimony at the National Citizens Inquiry (Winnipeg) may be viewed here.

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