NEW ORLEANS — Sanitizing surfaces, repeated hand washing and wearing gloves have become a big part of our daily routine in the age of COVID-19.
While touching infected surfaces has always been part of the messaging on how the coronavirus spreads, the Centers for Disease Control recently shifted its stance.
The CDC is now stressing that the virus spreads mainly through person-to-person contact and “does not spread easily” on contaminated surfaces.
LSU Health New Orleans infectious diseases expert Dr. Julio Figueroa said the agency is now focusing on what puts us at the greatest risk as we reopen the economy.
“To really emphasize kind of what we’re trying to do here in New Orleans and that is to emphasize masking and physical distancing to reduce transmission is much more important than the random surface that you could touch,” Dr. Figueroa said.
Assistant Louisiana Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said while touching surfaces doesn’t account for as many COVID cases as respiratory droplets through the air, it still is a potential source of infection.
“What we do know, without a shred of doubt right now is that the virus can live on hard surfaces, sometimes up to 2 or 3 days,” Dr. Kanter said. “It still is concerning and people should still take a lot of precautions with it.”
Doctors recommend you keep treating public surfaces the way you have since this pandemic began.
“When we talk about what a business can do or what a daycare facility can do for example to mitigate risk, wiping down with a disinfectant the high touch surfaces frequently throughout the day, doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, copy machines, that’s going to be an important part of breaking the cycle of transmission,” Kanter said.
“I would always try to keep my hands as clean as possible when I touch surfaces,” Dr. Figueroa said. “I’d be very mindful of what I touch. Nothing is going to be better than good hand hygiene.”
The change in CDC guidance is another example of how we continue to learn new things about this deadly virus.