CDC: Keep cleaning surfaces, but coronavirus mainly spreads person-to-person

CDC now says the coronavirus does not spread easily from touching surfaces or objects

The federal health agency, however, did remind citizens that the coronavirus mainly spread from an infected individual to another and that the infection caused by SARS-CoV-2 is spreading very easily and sustainably between individuals.

Viral tests - commonly referred to as PCR tests as a lot of them use a process known as polymerase chain reaction - are used by health professionals to determine whether or not a person is now infected with the disease.

Antibody, or serology, tests serve a different goal.

The CDC has released an update on its guidelines to prevent contamination of COVID-19. As the push for widespread testing in the USA has strengthened, antibody tests have been widely produced, many experts have balked at saying that antibodies equate to immunity from COVID-19.

The agency advised all newborns - regardless if they are symptomatic or not - who are born to moms with a "confirmed or suspected" case of COVID-19 should be tested at 24 hours of age. They cautioned that if somebody touched a surface contaminated with the virus and then touched their face or mouth, they could get infected. A positive antibody test result would indicate that the person has already been exposed to the virus and likely already recovered from an infection. "The two tests are totally different signals". Virginia was also combining antibody and viral tests until local newspapers reported on it.

Combining these two signals makes the data hard to interpret and could be misleading to the public, because the combined number does not reflect the rate of new infection (and the number of infectious people circulating) in their region, William Hanage, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The Atlantic. It is still possible to contract the virus from droplets on a surface, but officials have said this is not how it is mainly spread. Simultaneously, the proportion of positive tests recorded each week fell from 10% to 6% of total tests conducted.

"The data is really kind of screwed up", he added.

"Now that serology testing is more widely available, CDC is working to differentiate those tests from the viral tests and will report this information, differentiated by test type, publicly on our COVID Data Tracker website in the coming weeks", she said.

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