CDC now says coronavirus 'does not spread easily' on surfaces

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 23, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clarifying its guidance to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, hoping to clear up confusion over whether a person can contract the disease by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. Under a new heading "The virus does not spread easily in other ways" the agency explains that touching contaminated objects or surfaces does not appear to be a significant mode of transmission.

The CDC had previously warned that people can get infected "by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes".

The main source of the coronavirus's spread, the agency says, is through respiratory droplets from an infected person who coughs, sneezes or talks in close proximity to someone else. An individual does not need to feel sick or show symptoms to spread the submicroscopic virus. What the findings do emphasize is how critical it is to wear face masks, since some people who have COVID-19 may be asymptomatic.

The previous advise had stated that it "may be possible" to catch Covid-19 from contaminated surfaces.

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said Thursday that the revisions were the product of an internal review and "usability testing".

The CDC made the change because researchers analyzed contact tracing data from infected persons to learn more about how they were exposed to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,800 Ohioans, UH's Armitage said.

Efforts to sanitize high-touch public surfaces, such as doorknobs and elevator buttons, should continue, Armitage said.

The CDC says these values are based on data received by the agency before April 29, and the numbers are subject to change as the pandemic goes into the later months of the year.

The CDC in its guidance also said that the risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people is considered to be low at this point of time.

When the CDC revises its message, that isn't proof that science is untrustworthy, Armitage said.

How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary.

The change in the CDC's guidelines doesn't mean we can stop washing our hands, disinfecting surfaces, or social distancing.

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