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COVID-19 and Surfaces

As we enter into the new “normal” in our lives we need to consider how careful we need to be. If you were like me, I left my mail and packages outside my door for 12 hours, sprayed them with disinfectant and opened them with gloves! The news media was making me crazy with fears of contracting Covid-19 from every surface I came in contact with. As we enter the fifth month of Covid-19’s profound impact on our daily lives, let’s look at the data and see how crazy we really need to be.

Most of the research on Covid-19 persistence on surfaces was based on placing large quantities of viral particles on surfaces and then seeing how long they lived. This was comparable to having several people who are acutely infected spit on a surface at the same time. In a study in which the authors tried to mimic actual conditions in which a surface might be contaminated by a patient, no viable Covid-19 virus was detected on surfaces. In a recent review from Rutgers University (Lancet 7/3/20) a professor of microbiology concluded “the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 h).” If you think about this logically it seems unlikely that a person with Covid-19 would cough or sneeze on a doorknob or your package and then have you touch it soon thereafter.

So, in analyzing the data out there it seems that the risk of contracting Covid 19 from surfaces is very small. It should be fine to open your mail and your amazon packages without fear and you definitely do not need to wipe down vegetables and fruit that you purchase with disinfectant. A reasonable course of action is to wash your hands after opening mail and packages and dispose of paper in a recycling bin rather than leaving it on counters. You could also clean surfaces that you use frequently once per day with disinfectant not every hour.

If you must wear gloves, remember that you can more easily clean your hands than gloves and unless you are changing them every few minutes you run the potential of spreading a multitude of germs, not just Covid-19, to others.

Much of the research on how easy it is to catch Covid-19 indoors has been based on using high concentrations of the virus in an aerosol spray to see how long it will survive. Few studies have been done using expected viral concentrations from patients. When we examine these papers, it seems that even if the virus were to be spread indoors, adequate ventilation and in one study UV light helped to decrease the chance of spread. Almost all doctors and dentist’s offices, health care facilities, and I would expect restaurants when they reopen will have sterilization capabilities. For the present time don’t be afraid of visiting your health care providers office and going to the supermarket or stores. Wear your mask, practice social distancing and get tested if you have concerns about Covid-19.

We must find a way to begin to live our lives without fear and panic. Our economy, our city and most importantly our families need us to move out of isolation to grow strong together. I am here if you need to discuss any concerns you may have about your or your family’s health.

Dr. Jacqueline Jones

Author
Jacqueline Jones

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COVID-19 Update: we are now open

We have implemented a strict infection control protocol to address the current situation. Social distancing techniques and appropriate protective equipment will be in place. I am confident in our ability to provide quality care to you and your family.