The CDC’s recently updated guidelines have stated that Coronavirus, the illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is most often spread through respiratory droplets. This new information has left many people asking the question: does Coronavirus spread through contact surface transmission?
In short, yes, the Coronavirus does spread through surface contact transmission. What the CDC is really stating in their new guidelines is that surface contact transmission is not the only way that it spreads.
How Coronavirus Spreads
Because COVID-19 is a new, or novel, Coronavirus, the CDC and other health organizations are still learning about exactly how it spreads. We do know that the virus has been spreading easily and sustainably between people, and it appears that the spread has come from two major sources of transmission: person-to-person contact, and surface contact.
Person-to-person transmission occurs when a virus is spread directly between two people.
With Coronavirus, much like other viruses, this typically occurs when two people are in close contact, and one person, who is infected with the virus, releases respiratory droplets into the air from talking, sneezing, coughing, or breathing. These respiratory droplets may then land on the mouth or nose of or be inhaled by an uninfected person. Once the uninfected person has been exposed to these droplets, they are at risk for contracting the virus.
This is what makes face masks so valuable; they reduce the amount of respiratory droplets that an infected individual can spread.
Person-to-person transmission is especially dangerous when people are in close, indoor quarters. Contact tracing studies have shown the dangers of gathering in large groups and close quarters, some of which have lead to a “superspreading” event, meaning that one individual who is infected with Coronavirus infects dozens of others who were around them.
One man who was infected with Coronavirus attended a choir practice in Washington, subsequently infecting 32 other members of the choir. In this case, the man was releasing a large amount of respiratory droplets while singing, the rehearsal lasted for 2.5 hours, and members of the choir were in close contact during rehearsal and when they broke into smaller groups to share cookies and tea. All of these factors led to a high-risk person-to-person transmission environment.
This is where social distancing comes into play; it reduces the risk that an infected individual will infect others who are close to them.
Surface Contact Transmission
While Coronavirus has been shown to spread mostly through person-to-person transmission, the CDC has noted that person-to-person is not the only form of Coronavirus transmission.
Surface contact transmission occurs when a virus or disease is spread through a certain surface.
Typically, this happens when someone who is infected with a virus releases respiratory droplets, perhaps from a cough or sneeze, onto a surface, such as a door handle, grocery store shelf, or stair railing. Another person, who is unaware that the droplets have contaminated the surface, may then be infected if they touch that surface, and then touch their face, eyes, or mouth.
A study in China found a correlation between an outbreak of the Coronavirus and a shopping mall bathroom. 7 members of mall staff, 10 customers, and 11 contacts of those who had been in the mall were diagnosed with Coronavirus. After conducting contact tracing and taking into consideration the screening procedures of the mall as well as the commonalities between patients, it appears that the outbreak happened from indirect transmission, likely a women’s restroom.
This is another reason for mask recommendations; they can reduce the number of droplets that are being spread onto public surfaces.
While the CDC’s updated guidelines have stated that surface contact transmission is not the main source of the spread of the Coronavirus, it is still possible to be infected from a surface. In fact, Coronavirus has been shown to live on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours. This means that people could continue to be infected from a surface three days after it has been exposed to respiratory droplets.
How to Protect Against Surface Contact Transmission
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent transmission of the Coronavirus is to social distance of at least 6 feet, regularly wash your hands, and routinely clean and disinfect your business or home, at least daily.
Disinfect Surfaces Daily to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus, Says the CDC
The CDC has provided disinfecting guidelines for disinfecting surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These guidelines include:
- Cleaning dirty surfaces before disinfecting
- In a home, use of an EPA-registered household disinfectant and following the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
- Depending upon the disinfectant you use as a business, many products recommend keeping surface wet for a period of time and taking precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during the use of the product.
This information sheet from the CDC outlines their recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces including workplaces, businesses, and schools.
The CDC recommends daily disinfecting of surfaces in businesses if…
- The area is indoors.
- The area has been occupied in the last 7 days.
- The surface or object is frequently touched.
- Surfaces or objects are made of hard, non-porous materials like glass, metal, or plastic
For most organizations, The CDC’s daily disinfection recommendation means you need to have a disinfecting plan in place.
Providing thorough disinfection every day can be challenging for staff or employees to keep up with, especially on hard to sanitize surfaces or objects like shopping carts or crowded shelves with many nooks and crannies where germs can hide. For routine, highly-effective disinfection, you may want to consider hiring a team of disinfecting professionals.
Alpha Decon is Your Reopening Partner
Alpha Decon professional disinfecting services can provide a unique service that goes beyond typical janitorial cleaning. Our full-coverage mist spray system covers and protects high-touch surfaces like shopping carts, pin pads, tabletops, door handles, elevator buttons, and more.
We believe in reopening America and are here to help you meet the CDC’s daily disinfecting guidelines. Our electrostatic spray system will help you protect your employees and customers from potential surface contact transmission.