I was hesitant in posting this article because I didn’t want to give the wrong impression in stating that good hand washing and cleaning surfaces is not important. It is. This article explains how some companies emphasizing how they are disinfecting their areas may give us a false sense of security. This obsession of risk reduction rituals that make us feel safer but don’t actually do much to reduce the risk if transmission is called hygiene theatre.
In May, the CDC updated its guidelines to clarify that COVID-19 is spread primarily through the air, not by touching surfaces. According to Emanual Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, “Surface transmission of COVID-19 is not justified at all by science”.
But wait…weren’t we told that the virus could remain on surfaces for hours and even days?!!! Yes! Backing up those many scary stories of how people were infected after touching their mail, packages and doorknobs were several Lancet studies in July that were based on unrealistically strong concentrations of the virus. In other words, 100 people would have to sneeze on the same exact area of a table to mimic some of the experimental conditions. But now…we have more research.
The article below reviews other studies looking at how this coronavirus really spreads. There is new research and studies everyday. The one thing that has not changed is that this is an airborne virus, and that besides good hand washing, the importance of social distancing and wearing masks cannot be over-emphasized.
The problem with over cleaning and making us feel safe is that it justifies more social gathering places to open up, such as indoor seated restaurants, bars, gyms and now schools. I’m concerned people, especially students, will feel that as long as surfaces have been cleaned, wearing a mask is not as important.
A new study in South Korea, published Thursday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers more definitive proof that people without symptoms carry just as much virus in their nose, throat and lungs as those with symptoms, and for almost as long. The South Korean team analyzed samples taken between March 6 and March 26 from 193 symptomatic and 110 asymptomatic people isolated at a community treatment center in Cheonan. Of the initially asymptomatic patients, 89 — roughly 30 percent of the total — appeared healthy throughout, while 21 developed symptoms. The participants were mostly young, with the average age of 25. A study last week found children, who were mildly infected also carried at least as much virus as adults. Yikes!