The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance Monday for cleaning surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19, noting that regular household cleaning with soap or detergent instead of a disinfectant is often enough to reduce one’s risk of catching the virus.
The CDC also reiterated that the primary way the virus spreads is through respiratory droplets that travel through the air, and the risk of transmission via surfaces remains low. In the new guidance, the CDC said that risk was especially minimal after three days, “regardless of when it was last cleaned.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky highlighted the new findings in a Monday briefing.
“In most situations, regular cleaning of surfaces with soap and detergent — not necessarily disinfecting those surfaces — is enough to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread,” Dr. Walensky said.
Walensky noted that people should still use disinfectants on surfaces when the business, school or other indoor space has had a known or suspected case of COVID-19 within the previous 24 hours.
Still, authors of the new guidance noted that mask-wearing, hand washing and other measures can reduce prevalence of the virus both on surfaces and as a whole.
“The main way people are infected with COVID-19 is through close person-to-person contact, typically between people who are physically near each other within about six feet,” Dr. Walensky said Monday.
Walensky also highlighted another new CDC report that looked at a 100-person event in Illinois where masks and social distancing weren’t enforced. The event led to 46 cases of COVID-19, including 17 secondary cases.
The authors concluded that the Illinois example showed how indoor events can cause outbreaks and that outbreaks “originating in a business such as a bar not only affects the patrons and employees of the bar but can also affect an entire community.”
On Monday, public health officials called on Americans to continue following public health measures and maintaining vigilance as COVID-19 cases continue to tick up and more people get the vaccine.
The number of new cases per day is now averaging 64,000, Dr. Walensky said, the fourth straight week with an increase.
As far as vaccinations, the U.S. is now giving an average of 3 million shots per day, and more than 100 million Americans have gotten at least one dose.
“I want to end again by sharing my confidence that widespread vaccination will bring us to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Walensky said.
“We are encouraging everybody to roll up their sleeves as soon as vaccine is available to them, because we see it working,” she added.