NM doctors react after CDC says risk of COVID infection from contaminated surfaces low

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When the pandemic started, people rushed to buy disinfectant wipes and harsh chemical sprays, and you couldn’t find Clorox wipes anywhere. Some people even resorted to fumigating their offices and businesses, but now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all of that might not be necessary.

Each day, workers at Cosmetic Dentistry of New Mexico wipe down all surfaces. While some other businesses across the country have turned to what some call ‘theatrical’ cleaning measures like fumigation, Dr. Byron Wall said they decided a year ago not to go that route because they didn’t want staff and patients exposed to the disinfecting chemicals. “There was a lot of talk about fumigating, putting a lot of chemistry up in the air to hopefully kill and drop the viruses out,” Dr. Wall said. “Turns out, this isn’t really necessary.”

Updated CDC guidance released this week said the risk of COVID transmission on surfaces is less than one in 10,000, and the CDC said in most cases, fogging, fumigation, and electrostatic spraying are not recommended as primary methods of disinfection. “I guess it feels good, but more it feels good to know we have been doing things all the way along to keep people safe,” Dr. Wall said.

The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center say that these kinds of approaches may be less effective, create a false sense of safety, and may introduce additional health risks depending on the methods and substances used. “I am super happy we didn’t fumigate the office because I do have fibromyalgia, and I do have a chemical sensitivity from that,” Treatment Coordinator Marie Rayburn said.

Doctors at UNM Health said while the possibility of infection from contaminated surfaces is low, the risk is still there. “The recommendation is to still disinfect particularly if there is a known or suspected COVID positive person in a facility in the last 24 hours,” Dr. Olivia Hopkins said.

The dentistry office is also doing a handful of other measures like disinfecting masks with UV light and adding air purifiers to every lab. No one on their team has gotten COVID, and Dr. Wall said they have all been vaccinated. The CDC said cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent is enough to reduce risk in most situations.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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