A year into the pandemic, the evidence is now clear. COVID-19 is transmitted predominantly through the air — by people talking and breathing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols. Catching the virus from surfaces — although plausible — seems to be rare.
Despite this, some public-health agencies still emphasize surfaces pose a threat and should be disinfected frequently. The result is a confusing public message when clear guidance is needed on how to prioritize efforts to prevent the virus spreading.
People and organizations continue to prioritize costly disinfection efforts, when they could be putting more resources into emphasizing the importance of masks, and investigating measures to improve ventilation. The latter will be more complex but could make more of a difference.
New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority alone estimates its annual COVID-related sanitation costs are close to 380 million dollars until 2023.