Our lab team, led by Director Bobby Warren, assessed environmental contamination of inpatient rooms housing COVID-19 patients in a dedicated COVID-19 unit. Contamination with SARS-CoV-2 was found on 5.5% (19/347) of surfaces via RT-PCR and 0.3% (1/347) of surfaces via cell culture. Environmental contamination is uncommon in hospitals rooms; RNA presence is not a specific indicator of infectious virus. The team's findings can be found in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The findings reinforce the understanding that SARS-CoV-2 primarily spreads through person-to-person encounters via respiratory droplets in the air. It was noted that people should concentrate on known anti-infection strategies such as masking and socially distancing to mitigate exposures to airborne particles.
In addition to Bobby Warren, study authors include DCASIP Director Deverick Anderson, Alicia Nelson, Aaron Barrett, Bechtler Addison, Amanda Graves, Raquel Binder, Gregory Gray, Sarah Lewis, Becky A. Smith, David J. Weber, Emily E. Sickbert-Bennett and the CDC Prevention Epicenters Program.
The study received support from the Duke-UNC Prevention Epicenter Program for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (U54CK000483).