As we continue through the fifth month of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance on how COVID-19 spreads, saying it “does not spread easily” over contaminated surfaces.
The Blaze reported that the CDC guidance has changed in a “subtle” way, but it is still of interest. “The disease has always been thought to spread mainly through person-to-person contact by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. But up until recently, the CDC maintained that the virus could also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces,” the outlet reported.
The guidance now says “the virus spreads easily between people” but “does not spread easily in other ways.” The guidance also says: “It may be possible for COVID-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads.”
This is a slight difference from previous guidance, which Yahoo News reported as saying the virus spreading in other ways “may be possible” without the disclaimer noting it is not the main way for the virus to spread.
More from The Blaze:
Much of the thinking on the virus’ spread through contaminated surfaces stemmed from a New England Journal of Medicine study in March that found the virus could survive in the air for hours and on certain surfaces for days. In the study, the virus was detected up to four hours later on copper, up to one day later on cardboard, and up to three days later on plastic and stainless steel.
Though the study never purported to say that people who touched those surfaces could become infected, guidance on the matter advised caution.
In April, when the Food and Drug Administration announced that customers don’t need to worry about contracting the virus from grocery packaging, CDC guidance expressed caution, citing the study.
Yahoo reported that the change wasn’t based on any new study, but epidemiological data.
“Based on the epidemiology, we know that the main way this virus is infecting people is from direct contact with other infected people,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the outlet. “Contaminated surfaces play some role, but it’s likely much smaller.”
“This is a respiratory virus, and respiratory viruses largely spread through breathing in infected respiratory droplets,” Dr. Adalja added.
As with any information about the coronavirus, this shouldn’t be taken to mean people shouldn’t take caution when touching surfaces. The virus may still be present and they can still contract it, so take necessary precautions and use common sense.
“It might be possible to become infected after touching a surface that has the virus, then touching one’s face,” Dr. Richard Watkins, an infections disease physician at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told Yahoo. “That is why handwashing and avoiding touching one’s face are important. However, this isn’t the main way the virus is spread.”
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