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Do I Still Need to Wipe Down Packages?


Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

In this week's edition of the Covid Q&A, we look at how Covid-19 spreads. In hopes of making this very confusing time just a little less so, each week Bloomberg Prognosis is picking one question sent in by readers and putting it to experts in the field. This week's question comes to us from Richard in San Angelo, Texas, who is curious whether he should still be concerned about getting infected from surfaces. He asks:

Do I need to still carry my bottle of hand sanitizer to use every time I touch a doorknob, etc.?

Early in the pandemic, there was much concern about contracting Covid-19 from surfaces found in everyday life — the pole on a subway car, a doorknob, a package from Amazon or a pen used to sign a receipt. Since then, science has shown that the virus that causes Covid spreads largely through airborne particles emitted by infected people in close proximity. That’s why measures like mask-wearing and social distancing (in addition to vaccines) are key to getting the pandemic under control.

“The risk of contracting Covid-19 from high-touch community surfaces is essentially negligible,” says Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University.

Goldman says that while studies have shown that some viral genetic material can be found on surfaces, it is typically in a degraded state that can’t cause an infection.