Hoarding toilet paper, wiping down groceries; the crazy habits we made in 2020 and what microbiologists say can stay behind

Updated: Jan. 1, 2021 at 10:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It may be a new year, but the threat of COVID-19 continues.

On Friday, Arizona reported 10,060 new cases and surpassed nine thousand deaths.

Over the past year researchers have discovered ways to prevent the spread, like wearing a mask and social distancing.

However, there are some practices that are helpful, like wiping down every item from the grocery store; but your efforts could be focused on better methods.

“We do know that SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive for several days on some surfaces and on other surfaces like copper, only a few hours,” said Professor of Microbiology at the Unversity of Arizona, Dr. Charles Gerba. “But we really don’t know how important the surface transmission is yet for transmission of COVID-19.”

Gerba said he agrees with studies done that show the risk of transmitting COVID from touching a surface is low.

Instead, Gerba said our focus should be more on our faces; since, according to Gerba, the major route is inhalation.

“The current evidence indicates most people are acquiring it when people cough and sneeze the virus,” he said. “When it comes to surfaces, you would have to touch that surface, and then bring your fingers to your face. So if you’re cautious against that, then don’t worry.”

That’s why Gerba said the masks have to stay in 2021, even with the vaccine rolling out.

He also recommends continuing to keep things clean, but as long as you wash your hands before touching your face or eating, you don’t need to clean off every item you bring home.

Another popular COVID-19 prevention method recently surfacing is ultraviolet light.

Gerba said the UV light destroys and keeps the virus from replicating. However, there are lots of at-home UV lights being sold at stores currently, and Gerba said they’re not the best option.

“You have to really know what you’re doing. It’s really important the right dose to get to a surface so that it will kill the virus, or other micro-organisms you’re concerned about on a surface. And you have to be careful not to shine it into your eyes,” said Gerba. “For the consumer, disinfectant spray is the better option. UV light works well in hospitals or industrial settings or commercial settings since you have someone who knows what they’re doing, knows the right dose, and take the right precautions.”

Meaning for the average consumer, it’s best to stick to the basics.

“The triad here is wearing a face mask, using good hand hygiene, and disinfecting and cleaning surfaces,” said Gerba.

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