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

A plastic barrier was cleaned at Boston University.Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises that while it’s possible to contract the coronavirus by touching a contaminated surface, that isn’t “thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

The information’s contained on the CDC’s official website.

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

According to CDC guidance updated on its site Wednesday, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.


The spread is believed to occur mainly “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” the site says. “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).”

The CDC, however, continues to recommend that people clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, wear cloth face coverings in public, and practice social distance and frequent hand washing, among other safeguards, according to the agency’s website.

The frequently touched surfaces to clean include “tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks,” the CDC site says.

Nationwide as of Thursday, the virus had infected 1.5 million Americans and killed 93,061 people, according to the CDC. In Massachusetts as of Thursday, the virus had infected 90,084 residents and killed 6,148 people, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.