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We all know to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. It’s just good etiquette. But with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a little more effort is needed.

Enter the increasingly common practice of social distancing, which calls for a person to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from another person. You’ve probably heard the phrase countless times in the last few months, but do you know why it’s important to keep your distance?

Brian Bossak, associate professor of public health at the College of Charleston, explains that when a person coughs or sneezes (or is an animated talker), droplets generally fall to the ground about 6 feet from where the person is standing. If you’re closer than that, you could accidentally shower someone with your germs.

RELATED: Find out why you should wear a face covering to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“When you talk or cough, often unseeable drops of liquid are are sprayed out,” says Bossak. “If you’re standing too close, usually about 6 feet or less away from someone else, there’s a possibility you could breath in these droplets and there’s also the possibility that they contain the coronavirus.”

A good rule of thumb, says Bossak, is to keep a distance of about two arms’ lengths from another person. That will help reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

So, keep your distance!