Don Guckert, University of Iowa
March 23, 2020
Are you basing your COVID-19 cleaning strategies on the droplet transmission or airborne transmission theory of virus dispersion?
“Our public health experts advise us to think in terms of ‘snot’ and ‘boogers.’ This virus is transmitted through moisture particles. It is not an airborne disease in the sense that dry particles are breathed in. The latest is that the ‘snot’ dries up in a matter of hours to three days. Then it is a booger and no longer infectious. Further, the drying happens faster on cloth and fiber surfaces than on hard surfaces.
“If a custodian is vacuuming a carpet that has a fresh sneeze on it, in our thinking, chances are that the action of the vacuum would mix the ‘snot’ particles with dust particles and dampen any airborne moisture particles. Even if a particle were to become airborne, it is hard to imagine it traveling far and directly enough to the custodian’s airways.
“My advice is to have the custodian wear a face mask (N95) when vacuuming. Better yet, if the buildings are primarily empty, cut back on the vacuuming frequency and/or allow a day or two after its been used before vacuuming. But the bottom line in our thinking is that this is a low risk.”