Updated CDC cleaning guidance highlights coronavirus spread mostly through air, not surfaces

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Keep up the hand washing, less on the bleach. 

That’s according to newly released cleaning and disinfecting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted. 

The guidance released on Monday highlights how the virus is spread to humans mostly from “respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus” in air and not from contaminated inanimate surfaces. The CDC reports in rare instances infection comes from surfaces, good hand washing and regular household soaps and detergents do “enough to reduce risk.” 

Previous CDC guidelines for indoor community environments encouraged fully disinfecting high-touch areas. 

It is possible for people to be infected from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. However, the CDC said “studies suggest that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection via the fomite transmission route is low, and generally less than 1 in 10,000, which means that each contact with a contaminated surface has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection.”

Avera Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Elliott said Monday’s report from the CDC is another example of science at work. 

“We’ve known about this virus for a little over a year and we’ve learned a tremendous amount,” Elliott told KELOLAND News. “You have to learn by studying. You don’t just guess at what might work or what might not work. You’ve got to watch and learn over time.” 

Elliott said he was thankful for the CDC and scientists around the world who continue to learn about COVID-19. He said Monday’s report emphasizes much of what health officials and doctors continue to promote. 

“Our best mitigation strategies are of course, the vaccine, and then it’s wearing a mask, good hand hygiene and isolating yourself if you are feeling under the weather,” Elliott said. “Those have been shown to be the absolute far and away best mitigators for the spread of this virus.”

Elliott added cleaning surfaces regularly is still a good idea as it helps protect against the coronavirus, flu virus and other common cold viruses. Beyond cleaning, which the CDC defines as use of soap or detergent, Elliott said people should learn more about what cleaners and disinfectants are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and proven to work.   

“These disinfectants can potentially cause harm,” Elliott said. “Regardless of what cleaning agent or disinfecting agent you’re using, make sure you read and follow the directions correctly.” 

The final takeaway from the updated CDC cleaning and disinfection space came from when a person has been sick or diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Less than 24 hours after the person has been sick or diagnosed, the space should be cleaned and disinfected. 

If more than 24 hours have passed since the person has been sick or diagnosed, cleaning is enough.

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