The risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection from contaminated surfaces is extremely low, according to updated guidance released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It is possible for people to become infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered low,” the agency said.
The primary way that people become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is through exposure to respiratory droplets, the CDC said. While not impossible, the agency said the risk of infection through fomites is “generally less than 1 in 10,000.”
The CDC guidance, which comes more than a year after the pandemic, is the strongest argument yet against what some critics have called “hygiene theater.”
Even though CDC scientists have been fairly certain since at least last spring that transmission is almost entirely through airborne particles, facilities have continued to insist on strict disinfection protocols, such as constant cleaning. shared surfaces with disinfectant and close schools and subways. for “deep cleaning”.
According to the CDC, cleaning surfaces with soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce risk in most situations.
“There is little scientific support for the routine use of disinfectants in community settings, whether indoors or outdoors, to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by fomites,” the agency said. “In public spaces and community settings, the available epidemiological data … indicate that the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from fomites is low, compared to the risks of direct contact, droplet transmission, or transmission by air “.
Disinfection is recommended in indoor community settings where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the CDC said.
CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle Walensky The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Triggers Debate Over Definition Fauci Touts Vaccines: ‘This Isn’t Going To Last Forever’ CDC Director Walks Tightrope On Pandemic Messages MORE told reporters that other strategies being used, such as fogging, fumigation and electrostatic spraying, are not recommended at all as primary disinfection methods due to safety risks.
Surface transmission can be reduced by wearing masks consistently and correctly, as well as proper hand washing, the agency said.