Expert says cleaning will not be good enough in preventing the spread of COVID-19 on Thanksgiving

Wiping door knob with antibacterial disinfecting wipe for killing coronavirus.

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- An expert on microbes and bacteria said giving touch surfaces the sanitizing treatment for Thanksgiving will not likely be good enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Erica Hartmann, PhD is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. And, while people are being advised not to have people who don't live with with them over for Thanksgiving, she said she can understand why people would think they’d be reducing the risk of spreading the coronavirus by sanitizing everything in sight.

"Cleaning is super important. It’s really important to practice good hygiene, however, cleaning is not sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19," she said.

Dr. Hartmann said the real way to prevent the spread is by mask wearing, keeping your distance from those who do not live with you, and thorough hand-washing.

"It’s definitely one of those things we can control. We can control that we can clean our homes and those kinds of things. It’s harder for us to control things like the movement of air and so we do what we can and sometimes that gives us a false sense of security," she said.

"While cleaning is a good thing, we have since learned from studying actual surfaces ‘in the wild’ there is not a lot of SARS-CoV-2 and transmission is most likely via air. This means that no amount of cleaning will make Thanksgiving safe. Instead, we need to be more concerned with attending gatherings with infected people.

“The coronavirus living on surfaces is a minor transmission route,” adding that, “Cleaning, while well-intentioned, is probably not going to make most indoor gatherings less risky.”

Dr. Hartmann said she plans to keep within her own household bubble for this Thanksgiving.