The Coronavirus Does Not Spread Easily From Touching Surfaces Or Objects

October 5, 2020

The new coronavirus is “not easily transmitted from contact surfaces or objects,” according to the latest wording on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

The change was made on May 11, according to NBC News, and the organization did not make an announcement.CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund told NBC News that the change, which was made during an internal review of its website, was intended to “clarify other types of transmission beyond person-to-person.”

But there doesn’t appear to be any new data on how infectious virus particles appear to be, according to NBC News.

Previous research published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 17 had found that coronaviruses can survive up to three hours in air, four hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard, and 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel. But as Live Science previously reported, it’s still unclear how long SARS-CoV-2 can stay on surfaces and how contagious those surfaces are.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website that the coronavirus is “very easily and consistently transmitted from person to person,” which is the primary route of transmission. However, “the virus is not readily transmitted by other means,” their new subheading reads.

While it is “possible” that COVID-19 spreads other than through human-to-human contact, including from contact with surfaces or objects and then contact with the mouth, nose or eyes or other means between animals and people, none of these are considered major routes of transmission, the agency writes.

Still, as states across the U.S. have at least partially reopened, people are cautious about what precautions they should take. For example, the Los Angeles Times reports that people are afraid to handle cash and that many businesses have now turned to “contactless” payments.

“An ongoing problem in this epidemic is the lack of clear messaging from government leadership, which is another unfortunate example of this trend,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told the Washington Post.” It may even adversely affect hand hygiene and encourage complacency about physical distance or other measures.”

The CDC has issued a set of guidelines on how to clean and disinfect surfaces.” Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable on surfaces made of various materials for hours to days,” the agency still says in their guidelines.” Cleaning visibly soiled surfaces and then disinfecting them are best practice measures to prevent COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in home and community settings.”

According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection is to maintain a good social distance (about 6 feet), wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.