Coronavirus Disinfection: What is the Deal with Surfaces?

There has been no shortage of conflicting information regarding the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Some of this is to be expected, though, considering the novel nature of this virus -- COVID-19 behaves differently than other infectious diseases. Researchers have been hard at work trying to figure out the virus’ true origins, its short- and long-term effects, and primary methods of transmission.

In the beginning, entities like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the public about the spread of infection via touching surfaces. More recently, however (in mid-May), many health experts have walked back some of these claims. Now, the CDC states that the primary transmission of COVID-19 is via close human-to-human contact, where an infected individual may transfer respiratory droplets containing the virus to others.

So, what is the deal with surfaces, then? Should people worry about getting infected by touching various surfaces or not? As new information comes to light, the CDC has been careful about how they word this matter in particular. Now, their message is that it is still possible to contract and spread COVID-19 via surfaces, but that several conditions must be met for this type of transmission to occur when compared to transmission via respiratory droplets.

How Can COVID-19 Spread via Surfaces?

While it’s not as common as previously thought, surfaces can play the role of “middle-man” in regards to COVID-19 transmission. Here’s how it seems to work:

  • Someone carrying COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, etc. directly onto a surface or onto their hands and then touches a surface
  • If COVID-19 is present in these droplets, it can survive on said surface for a given period of time (this varies depending on the viral load on the surface, the type of surface, whether or not it’s porous, and more)
  • A non-carrier makes contact with the area containing COVID-19 (i.e. placing their hand on it)
  • Shortly after, the above individual touches their face (namely the eyes, nose, or mouth) with the same body part that contacted the surface in question
  • If the virus is still alive during all of this, it can enter this new host, who then becomes contagious

All of the above conditions must be met for someone to become infected with COVID-19 after touching a surface. This is why it’s so important for everyone to wear a mask (most, if not all, of the carrier’s droplets would probably not have landed on the surface had they been wearing a mask) and to thoroughly wash their hands on a regular basis, especially after touching surfaces (the non-infected individual could have killed the traces of COVID-19 by washing their hands before touching their face). Additionally, it’s important to maintain strong surface cleaning and disinfection protocols.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Surfaces for Good Measure

So, how should individuals and businesses go about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces? The CDC has thorough guidance regarding general cleaning and disinfecting protocols as well as guidance for cleaning and disinfecting facilities and environmental surfaces. Included in all of these guidelines are measures such as: performing these measures on a routine basis, prioritizing high-touch surfaces, cleaning surfaces prior to disinfecting them, using EPA-registered disinfectants, following all label instructions to ensure proper disinfection, and adjusting measures based on the type of surface, whether or not it’s indoors, and if it’s been occupied in the previous 7 days.

Additionally, while the world is mainly focused on COVID-19 at the moment, it’s worth keeping in mind that other infectious diseases can be spread via surfaces, too, like influenza. Now is an opportune time for businesses to re-evaluate their disinfecting efforts and, if possible, hire disinfecting cleaning services to ensure ongoing facility safety. Professional disinfecting services will have greater access to supplies such as regulated disinfectants, microfiber cloths, PPE, and more, as well as carry the knowledge and experience necessary to mitigate the spread of all infectious diseases within a facility.

Surface-Level Understanding

There is still much we don’t know about COVID-19, but each day we seem to learn a bit more. Now, as many regions begin to reopen, it’s crucial for businesses and individuals to stay updated on the latest developments and continue exercising caution. This includes keeping surfaces clean and disinfected. Here at The Budd Group, we offer more than bare-bones disinfection services -- we work closely with each of our clients to ensure the health and safety of their employees, customers, and guests.

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