CDC Guidance Says Touch Screens are Low Risk for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a scary period in everyone’s life. One of the main concerns centers around where a person gets the virus and where they don’t. Actions we believed were high-risk in the beginning, like touching mail or groceries, have proven to be lower-risk than originally thought. In April 2021, the CDC announced that there was only a 1 in 10000 chance of catching COVID from touching a surface.
Why Is the Risk Less Than Previously Believed?
While we can’t be sure of all the factors why the virus isn’t picked up from surfaces as much as we first thought, here are a handful of science-backed theories that give us a well-rounded explanation.
Factors Playing Into Why Touching Surfaces Is Lower-Risk
Inefficiency in the transmission process. Contrary to popular belief it’s not a given that, if a person touches a surface that has virus droplets, they will get it. Dr Sanjay Gupta recently reiterated the belief that COVID is does not transmit well on surfaces. The virus must travel from the surface to the person’s hands, then to their eyes nose, or mouth. Each step has the potential for removing virus traces and stopping it from traveling into the person’s body.
The virus doesn’t live on surfaces as long as we thought. There have been many studies that have tried figuring out how long the COVID-19 virus lasts on surfaces. On porous surfaces, it seems to only last minutes. On non-porous surfaces, which are everyday things like glass, plastic, and stainless steel, the virus can potentially last days or weeks. However, as the studies have gone on, they found that other factors like ventilation decrease the amount of time the virus can live on porous surfaces.
Stringent cleaning protocols. Companies and individuals alike have added vigilant cleaning and sanitizing to their routines since COVID began spreading. Surfaces are scrubbed down more often, more thoroughly, and with more powerful cleaning products than ever before. These efforts have paid off. Even if a surface is exposed to the virus, there’s a great likelihood it will be washed away, or a person will wash their hands or use sanitizer before they become infected.
The CDC estimates that the risk of getting COVID from a surface is less than 1 in 10,000. This is good news, since there are many reasons people must touch surfaces used by other people. Mass transit, restaurant tables, public restrooms, elevators, grocery stores, and other areas frequented daily by people who touched the same surfaces repeatedly. Touch screens are another example of surfaces that no longer pose a strong threat of being COVID spreaders.
Touch Screens May Actually Help in the COVID Fight
Now that we know the virus isn’t easily spread through touching surfaces, smart businesses can utilize touch screens in a variety of ways to keep their businesses moving forward safely. Paired with digital signage, they are easy to change and update so information is always relevant and fresh. Here are some specific ways industries can use touch screens to create a contact-less client, patient, and employee experience (which DOES help reduce COVID transmissions).
- Hospitality. Hotels have struggled dealing with the COVID pandemic, and digital signage touch screens have offered many of their guests’ peace of mind. With a kiosk, guests can check into their rooms at their leisure without standing in line with other guests. Conference rooms and other areas of the hospitality industry benefit in similar ways.
- Healthcare. Interactive directories help patients with wayfinding instead of having to stop at an information desk and risk exposure via a facility employee or volunteer. They can also use touch screens to sign in to the hospital, fill out discharge papers, check visiting hours, and much more.
- Colleges and Universities. With digital signage software, students can easily access information about class schedules, locations, professors, and other information by using a touchscreen to search for keywords around what they want to know.
- Entertainment. Attractions like museums, zoos, and amusement parts were hit hard during the pandemic. Now that they are opening up again in some capacity, touch screens can help their patrons by providing a contact-less entrance, with wayfinding, and by providing information on shopping and available restaurants.
- Restaurants. From mom-and-pop diners to large chain restaurants, people want to dine out and enjoy themselves while still feeling safe from COVID. Touch screens can help reduce the risk of getting the virus by letting patrons check in for their table, review a menu, order, and even pay their bill without having close contact with a server or hostess. Of all the industries, none benefit from digital signage touch screens more than the restaurant industry does.
- Manufacturing. The manufacturing floor in some companies has been a historically high-risk place to catch the virus, partly due to the close proximity of the workers. Companies can help reduce the risk with touch screens that lets employees’ clock in and out and update themselves in important company news instead of being required to attend in-person meetings.
- Businesses and corporations. Getting back to business as usual has been difficult since the pandemic started. Touch screens in offices help tip the scales in lowering the risk to employees and visitors. Things like wayfinding for visitors and checking in and out of work for employees can be handled through touch screens in a contact-less way.
- Retail. This industry benefits greatly from digital signage touch screens, as well. For example, shopping malls may have had several stores close or downsize since the pandemic began. Touch screens can help shoppers quickly locate where they are trying to go, without having to take time to find and ask an employee.
The recent CDC guidance regarding touching surfaces and the risk of catching COVID is good news to industries across the board. Getting back to something resembling normal life is a goal, and touch screens can help your business, facility, or attraction safely get there.