Scientists still don’t have a perfect grip on COVID-19—they don’t know where exactly it came from, how exactly to treat it, or how long immunity lasts.
But in the past few months, scientists have converged on a theory of how this disease travels: via air. The disease typically spreads among people through large droplets expelled in sneezes and coughs, or through smaller aerosolized droplets, as from conversations, during which saliva spray can linger in the air.
Surface transmission—from touching doorknobs, mail, food-delivery packages, and subways poles—seems quite rare. (Quite rare isn’t the same as impossible: The scientists I spoke with repeated the phrase “people should still wash their hands” about every five minutes.) The difference may be a simple matter of time. In the hours that can elapse between, say, Person 1 coughing on her hand and using it to push open a door and Person 2 touching the same door and rubbing his eye, the virus particles from the initial cough may have sufficiently deteriorated.
Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay physically distant and don’t gather in large groups. Avoid being in enclosed spaces with people unless you have explicitly discussed mutual precautions and social circles.
With a few exceptions, most of this hosing down and scrubbing of surfaces with antimicrobials is a distraction and a waste.
Nobody wants to admit that we have to change our behavior—we want keep going about our lives like always, and have the problem to be fixed for us. It’s like assuming we don’t need to worry about the garbage we generate BECAUSE RECYCLING!