Watch CBS News

CDC says COVID-19 not caught easily from surfaces and 40% of transmission occurs before people feel sick

How to stay safe this summer
How to stay safe this summer amid coronavirus fears 04:24

The Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance earlier this month to emphasize the coronavirus does not spread easily on surfaces, focusing more on human-to-human transmission. And new planning documents from the CDC contain more of its estimates about the transmission of the virus.

Touching surfaces and objects is now listed under the heading, "The virus does not spread easily in other ways" on the CDC web page.

Earlier, "Contaminated surfaces and objects" had appeared on the web page as a separate heading — just as "Person-to-person spread" does —even though the CDC does not believe that the virus spreads easily from surfaces and objects.

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes," the CDC website says now. "This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus."

The CDC now estimates that 35% of all people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, but notes those individuals are "100%" as infectious as those with symptoms. 

Also, 40% of the virus' transmission happens before people feel sick, the CDC estimates — highlighting the need for social distancing and masks. The agency suspects the mean time between exposure and feeling symptoms is 6 days. 

The U.S. is on track to surpass the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths within days. Flags will fly at half-staff this weekend to honor the victims of the deadly virus.

Meanwhile, states are reopening their economies in stages, and President Trump insisted on Thursday that if there is a second wave of the virus, "we're not going to close the country."

Mr. Trump on Thursday declined to wear a mask for much of his visit to a Ford plant where the policy is that everyone wear masks and despite encouragement from a top Ford executive that he wear one. The president said he did wear a mask for a part of the tour closed to the press, but didn't want to give the media the satisfaction of wearing one. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.