The unknowns surrounding the virus set off a worldwide hysteria last year, with people wiping down every surface they came in contact with, particularly after the CDC warned that COVID-19 could live on surfaces for up to a month. Airlines began decontaminating planes after every flight. In New York City, late night subway service was canceled so trains could be sprayed every night.
But medical experts now say that the virus is usually spread from person to person through respiratory droplets expelled by coughing, sneezing, talking or shouting. The CDC has updated guidelines to say instances of the virus spreading on contaminated surfaces is less common.
“I think that’s very important so people aren’t in a trap of continuing practices, which aren’t worth the effort,” Dr. Jake Deutsch told Inside Edition.
It’s very unlikely that someone could get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface, but that doesn’t mean people should let their guard down.
“As an example, if somebody sneezed onto a table and you happened to touch that surface and then there were droplets there and in a short period of time touched your face, we’re talking about possible transmission,” Deutsch said.
Thoroughly washing hands remains a must. But the biggest risk comes from respiratory droplets rather than things you may touch.
“If you’re spending all that effort to decontaminate surfaces or things you bring into the house, but your mask isn't on correctly, you're really putting the effort in the wrong place,” Deutsch said.