CDC: Coronavirus 'does not spread easily' except for close contact with infected patients

Fears have abounded over whether the virus is easily transmittable through groceries, packages

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Shoppers wait in line while wearing masks
Maryland shoppers wait in line while wearing masks
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Last Updated:
May 21, 2020 - 10:20pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued updated coronavirus guidelines that now downplay the chances of contracting the virus from surfaces, potentially offering relief to millions of Americans who have been concerned they might catch the disease from purchased groceries or delivered packages. 

On its website, the CDC says that coronavirus is "thought to spread mainly from person-to-person." Yet "the virus does not spread easily in other ways."

"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 also states on its site. "This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus."

Animal-to-people and people-to-animal transmissions are also unlikely, the agency states. 

The new guidelines come after several months of concerns that the virus was spreading quickly and easily through items such as grocery store packaging and delivered packages.

Research announced in late-March determined that the virus could live on some materials for several days, leading to grim warnings that consumers should be wary of shopping carts, glass surfaces and other common objects. 

Some experts have recommended that people leave parcels outside for up to a day to ensure any virus on packaging dies before being brought inside. In a widely-circulated segment in early-April, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta instructed viewers in how to wipe down groceries after bringing them home from the store.