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Microbiologists say personal hygiene more important than disinfecting surfaces

Posted at 3:14 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 10:01:09-05

At the beginning of the pandemic, disinfecting wipes were a coveted item and difficult to find.

Now, they're finally making their way back to store shelves. But how much do we really need to be disinfecting surfaces?

Microbiologists say the coronavirus doesn't usually survive on surfaces.

“You actually go into hospitals where they're treating COVID-19 patients and you check the surfaces, and there's no infectious virus, none,” said Dr. Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Whenever the coronavirus is found on a surface, it's usually the RNA. Think of it as the corpse or skeleton of the virus. It usually means the virus is no longer there and it's unlikely that you will become infected by touching that surface.

Goldman says because of that, it's not really necessary to constantly disinfect surfaces. Instead, we should focus on other preventative measures, like hygiene.

“Really all you need to do is wash your hands because even if you happen to touch something, it's not going to go through the skin of your fingers. You wash your hands and you're done with it,” said Goldman.

Goldman reminds people to remember the three Ws – wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.