Deep-cleaning priority is misplaced in stopping coronavirus spread, scientists say

As businesses reopen across the country, the focus is on deep cleaning and sanitization is top of mind, but this could be a waste of time as surface transmission does not appear to be as big a threat as we once thought, according to The Atlantic.

Businesses, particularly restaurants and gyms, are making a big to-do about cleaning, appointing sanitation czars and advertising their cleaning practices. New York City even closed down its subway system to deep clean the seats, walls and poles with antiseptics.

But this might not be helping curb the spread of the new coronavirus at all. The CDC updated its guidelines in May to say that surface transmission "isn't thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

Another scientist, Emanuel Goldman, PhD, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark told The Atlantic: "Surface transmission of COVID-19 is not justified at all by the science."

In an article published in The Lancet, Dr. Goldman said that previous studies showing how long the virus can live on different surfaces assumed an unrealistically high concentration of the virus.

By and large scientists agree that the virus primary spread through the air through droplets expelled when a person sneezes or coughs or via aerosolized droplets expelled during conversations.

Surface transmission appears to be rare, though scientists that spoke to The Atlantic emphasized that hand-washing is still important.

But the focus on surface decontamination can have unintended negative consequences, including "prevention fatigue," Dr. Goldman told The Atlantic.

"They're exhausted by all the information we're throwing at them," he said. "We have to communicate priorities clearly; otherwise, they'll be overloaded."

Also, an overemphasis on sanitation leads to a false sense of security, as restaurants and gyms can continually clean their premises and equipment, but that does nothing to curb virus spread via people talking or coughing, according to the The Atlantic.

Read the full article here.

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