As scientists continue to learn more about the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has decided to revise its stance to reflect the latest data.
According to Fox News, the CDC recently updated its website to note that while the coronavirus “spreads easily” from person-to-person, it is now not believed to “spread easily” via human contact with contaminated surfaces.
According to USA Today, while the CDC has always conceded that transmission via contaminated surfaces is possible, the agency now makes clear that that’s not “the main way the virus spreads.”
“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” the CDC notes on its webpage. “This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.”
The CDC also says on its website that COVID-19 doesn’t transmit easily from people to animals or vice versa, as USA Today notes.
Still, Fox says “experts warn that doesn’t mean it’s no longer necessary to take ‘practical and realistic’ precautions in stopping the spread of COVID-19.” The disease has already infected some 1.5 million Americans and killed more than 93,000 others, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the safest thing is to continue social distancing, wear masks, and wash hands frequently and thoroughly,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor and top official at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told Fox.
He went on: “Person-to-person contact is a highway. Touching infected surfaces are little paths, but they don’t carry the big viral traffic.”
Relief and reopening
Reports indicate this update from the CDC should come as a relief to those who are nervous about touching things like mail and even groceries. According to USA Today, the federal agency says “catching the coronavirus from boxes delivered by Amazon or on your takeout food bag is highly unlikely ‘because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces.'”
Still, at least one study has suggested the virus can live on some surfaces for several days, USA Today notes.
The news comes as all 50 states in the U.S. are taking steps toward reopening their economies in the wake of the outbreak, as The New York Times reported. But while the Times’ sources and others have speculated that reopening too soon could be detrimental, others are worried that failing to get things up and running again could have even worse consequences.
Indeed, with 38.6 million Americans now out of work, according to The Washington Post, something has to be done. In the meantime, we can only hold onto hope that the virus really doesn’t spread as easily as we once feared.