Story at a glance

  • The U.S. CDC has revised its guidelines on how the coronavirus spreads.
  • The agency still recommends washing hands often and using hand sanitizer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidelines regarding how the coronavirus spreads.

NBC reports that the change was quietly made May 11.

The revised information on the CDC website states that while the virus is easily transmissible between people through respiratory droplets, the virus does not spread easily through other mediums.

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Touching shared surfaces or objects, considered to be a factor in how the virus spreads early on in the pandemic, is not the easiest way for the virus to transmit, the CDC says.

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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 guidelines read. “This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.”

Prior to the change, the CDC had said that “spread [occurs] from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.”

Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, told NBC News the change was made as a result of an internal review of its website, and is intended to “clarify other types of spread beyond person to person.”


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Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease expert at Duke University, told reporters that while the coronavirus is capable of living on surfaces for several days, it is unclear how that functions as a means of transmission between people.

Different types of viral particles can last longer on surfaces, depending on the particle structure.

Matthew Moore, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, stated that the coronavirus is made with a lipid envelope that makes it less stable to last on surfaces in the environment.

The CDC still notes, however, that cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces is a good preventive practice to avoid contracting the virus, as is maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other people and washing hands routinely.


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Published on May 22, 2020