COVID-19 SPREADS PRIMARILY FROM PERSON-TO-PERSON CONTACT, NOT FROM TOUCHING SURFACES
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, most of us have been doing what we can to stay healthy, from social distancing to sanitizing everything. As it turns out, the first item on that list may be far more important than the second. Yes, the newly updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is likely to shock people who have been diligently avoiding every doorknob and refusing to go anywhere without gloves. “The virus does not spread easily from touching surfaces or objects,” the CDC notes.
The CDC is instead reminding people that coronavirus spreads primarily from person-to-person contact. “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person,” says the CDC. Because coronavirus is carried in respiratory droplets, the majority of infections have been caused by people who are physically close to one another. As the CDC reminds, the virus can be spread through coughing, sneezing, and even through talking. The organization emphasizes the importance of continuing to maintain social distance, which means staying about six feet apart from other people.
However, that update to the CDC guidelines doesn’t mean you should start freely touching everything and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The guidelines caution that touching surfaces and objects “is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.” We are constantly learning new things about the novel coronavirus, which means it’s still best to be as cautious as possible for the time being.
And while the CDC is diminishing the risk of transmission from touching surfaces, the World Health Organization (WHO) says, “COVID-19 spreads primarily through close contact with someone who is infected, but it can also spread if you touch contaminated objects and surfaces.”
So, what does this mean for you? The importance of social distancing has never been clearer, especially as more and more states are reopening, and there’s a higher likelihood of being around other people. That’s also why you should continue to wear face coverings, per the CDC’s recommendation. The organization suggests “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
Because there’s still so much we don’t know, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to avoiding direct contact with surfaces that could have been contaminated by the coronavirus. Continue washing your hands, using hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t an option, not touching your face, and sanitizing surfaces in your home. While there appears to be a much higher probability of contracting COVID-19 from close contact with another person than from touching an infected object, the CDC and WHO still recommend avoiding risk wherever possible.