Almost under the dark of night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidelines about how the coronavirus is spread.
They had indicated in the past that the two most common ways the COVID-19 virus is spread are by inhaling droplets from infected people and from touching surfaces contaminated with the germs. Once these germs are on hands and then find their way to the eyes, ears, and mouths, cross-contamination begins.
Now, they believe that coronavirus “does not spread easily” on contaminated surfaces.
This has caused considerable confusion, especially in the professional cleaning industry. We have known for decades that when health-risking pathogens on surfaces are touched, it can spread disease. There are even studies going back to the 1970s in hospitals that have found when pathogens are on floors, they can find their way on to the hands of patients. This can cause healthcare-associated infections, many of which cannot be treated with antibiotics.
So why the change About Contaminated Surfaces?
First, we should clarify that the new CDC guidelines say the virus “does not spread easily” after someone touches a contaminated surface. “Easily” is the keyword here. This means it still can happen, and in fact, the CDC says that “practical and realistic precautions” should continue. This would include cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
As to answering our question above, the change in the guidelines was because the information available to the CDC at the time the guidance was prepared, was somewhat limited and not peer-reviewed. It was based on a study published in mid-March in The New England Journal of Medicine. That study found that the germs that can cause COVID-19 can last on various surfaces for up to three days.
The study did not find, however, whether people could become infected with the disease by touching these surfaces.
The CDC adds that COVID-19 is a new disease and that future studies may find cross contamination is possible. In fact, many observers believe this is exactly what we should expect.
In the meantime, this might leave building owners and managers, as well as the professional cleaning industry, in a sort of limbo. Should they forget about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, especially high touch point surfaces like light switches, door handles, and more?
Since the CDC appears to be going back and forth, possibly we can find some stability if we see what the World Health Organization (WHO) says. According to WHO:
“Covid-19 spreads primarily from person to person [but] it can also spread if you touch contaminated objects and surfaces.”
WHO even goes a step further. It breaks down many of the commonly touched surfaces found in homes and commercial facilities that we should be wary of. These include not only light switches and doorknobs but also computers, elevator buttons, pens, railings, and several more. Then they add:
“If you touch something contaminated and then touch your face… you might fall ill.”
The World Health Organization has maintained this view since the virus was uncovered, and we believe it is in the best interest of all building managers to follow it. As a result, here are our recommendations:
All high touch areas in a facility should be cleaned and disinfected every cleaning visit.
Electrostatic sprayers, which are vital to infection control, help kill germs on many areas at one time, should be used in different types of facilities such as schools.
Managers should always “err on the side of caution.” It will be far better to find out later that these high touch areas did not need cleaning and disinfecting than to find out that they did.
The Secure Clean blog is designed to help building managers keep their facilities cleaner, healthier, greener, and safer, in the most cost-effective ways possible. To learn more about us, please take a few minutes to explore our website at www.securecleanbsi.com, contact us here, or at 888-609-1410.