Thirteen months into a two-week lockdown meant to “flatten the curve”, and the CDC is just now telling us the best way to keep ourselves from getting infected with the coronavirus.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The organization has taken a buckshot approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19, giving Americans all manner of advice that seems to have worked in previous viral outbreaks, hoping that this would cover all of their bases.
“It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low,” the new CDC guidance says, estimating that the chance of contracting the coronavirus through surface transmission is lower than 1 in 10,000.
The coronavirus is spread almost exclusively by airborne and aerosolized particles, as scientists have known for months. Despite scientists’ growing certitude about how the pathogen is transmitted, many establishments have continued to insist on strict sanitization protocols. In some school districts, for example, classrooms close for full-day “deep cleaning.”
The persistence of such practices has led to the advent of a derisive term — “hygiene theater” — to describe rituals that appear to do little to stop the virus from spreading. It is not clear if the CDC’s new guidance will lower the curtain on those theatrics, given how entrenched some of those practices have become.
Instead, experts believe that establishments should focus their resources on improving airflow, and eliminating as much recirculation as they possibly can.
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