CDC: COVID-19 more likely to spread person-to-person, not through contaminated surfaces

Wiping down groceries after a trip to the store is not really necessary, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control guidelines. The CDC now says the virus does not spread easily by touching surfaces or objects.

“My interpretation of what they’re saying is it’s not possible to get infected through contact with contaminated surfaces, but it’s a lot more likely to get infected by contact with another person,” said USF Immunologist Dr. Michael Teng.

That means breathing in respiratory droplets from infected people after they sneeze or cough, or even after they raise their voice.

“When we’re speaking, or we’re talking very loudly, we produce a lot of these respiratory droplets that have the virus in it,” Teng explained. “And these droplets, they come out of our mouth, and then they fall somewhere. If it’s in a restaurant or a bar, it’s going to fall on a table. Or if you’re in line at Disney, it’s going to fall on a railing.”

While the CDC said the virus doesn’t spread easily from surface contamination, it doesn’t rule it out. According to Dr. Teng, it’s important to keep your hands clean.

“I worry about my hand sanitation,” he said. “The hands are the part of you that can transfer the virus from whatever surface you’re touching.”

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Teng said the areas of biggest concern are high-traffic areas, like theme parks, which are gearing up to reopen.

“We’ve all been to Disney World and stood in line for hours on end, and everybody is touching the railings, or sitting on the railings,” Teng said. “This is a high-traffic area, so if someone is sick there, there’s a little bit more chance that you’re going to get sick.

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Dr. Teng added in the age of this pandemic, prevention means being prepared.

“Have wipes, or if you’re really good about it, keep your hands in your pocket and not touching your face, you should be OK,” he said. “The problem is, a lot of the time, we forget.”

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