The CDC should have updated its surface cleaning guidelines much earlier, says Dr. Ashish Jha

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should have updated its guidelines on cleaning household surfaces well before this week, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said Tuesday.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Dr. Ashish Jha told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.” “I think he was starting to say that last April and May, a lot of us in public health, stop cleaning surfaces.”

“I really don’t understand why the CDC took so long to clear this up. This virus is spread through the air,” Jha said.

The CDC said Monday that a thorough scrub with soap and water is adequate to prevent Covid-19 from spreading in the home. However, the use of disinfectants is recommended in schools and indoor homes where a virus case has been suspected or confirmed within 24 hours.

“In most situations, regular cleaning of surfaces with soap and detergent, not necessarily disinfecting those surfaces, is sufficient to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky , at a briefing at the White House on Monday.

Jha noted that the CDC’s public health messages have been part of a larger pattern of poor messages from the government when it comes to Covid.

“I would say the first few months were confusing, but in April, May of last year, it was very clear that this was in the air,” Jha said. “It’s been frustrating that that hasn’t always come out consistently from our federal officials.”

The CDC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Host Shepard Smith also asked Jha about the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant after Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, warned Sunday that the variant can infect children more easily than the above strains.

Jha said he is “concerned” about the B.1.1.7 variant in children, especially since they have not yet been vaccinated.

“We are not seeing a lot of infections in older people because we are vaccinating them, and that really leaves young adults and children vulnerable to B.1.1.7,” Jha noted. “One of the reasons we can’t fully relax right now is that we really have to reduce these infection numbers.”

Every state in the country has reported at least one case of variant B.1.1.7 that was first detected in the UK, CDC data shows. Walensky said Wednesday that the variant is becoming the predominant Covid strain in many regions of the US.


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