Brandon Lawrence, MD 3/25/21 2:48 PM 5 min read

Are We Focusing Too Much on Surface Transmission? COVID is Airborne

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation have enacted stringent safety precautions and significantly increased their infectious disease protocol in order to prevent transmission.

Most facilities placed an emphasis on meticulous hand washing and cleaning hospital surfaces, believing that one of the main ways for the virus to spread is on surfaces that have come in contact with the virus.

However, in May, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified its guidance about surface transmission, noting that this method is “not thought to be the main way the virus spreads” [1]. Since then, they have solidified this position, maintaining that surface transmission is “not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads” [2].

Although the CDC and World Health Organization have shifted from advising people to “Avoid touching surfaces, especially in public settings, because someone with COVID-19 could have touched them before,” and have recognized that this type of transmission is rare, there has been a lot of confusion regarding the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Many people and organizations are still making surface sanitization their number one priority as they combat the virus. 

While it is always beneficial to make surfaces are cleaned properly, especially in a hospital setting, this is not where everyone’s time, resources, and effort should go in the fight against COVID-19.

This is especially true considering the fact that there is no scientific data to support the idea that the coronavirus lives on surfaces for days as previously thought, and what earlier studies believed to be the virus was actually the non-contagious, “corpse” of COVID-19 left on surfaces [3]. Disinfecting surfaces can protect against bacteria, and it is a good practice in general, but there is too much focus on surface transmission.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities should prioritize reducing the airborne transmission of COVID-19 instead. Recently, the CDC has acknowledged that infectious aerosols that are expelled from COVID patients when they speak, breathe, cough, or sneeze, are far more likely to spread the virus than surface transmission [3].

Now that experts have realized that COVID is airborne, hospitals need to shift the focus from cleaning surfaces to preventing airborne transmission in hospitals.

However, this is often easier said than done. 

Resources like airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) are expensive, and it can be a challenge for healthcare workers to safely conduct procedures that have a high likelihood of generating aerosols.

Hospitals need solutions like the SCONE to stop airborne transmission and keep people safe.


The SCONE provides an affordable alternative to AIIRs to prevent the airborne transmission of COVID-19 in hospitals. This medical device clears aerosols and droplets in under five minutes, keeping potentially infectious aerosols from lingering in the air after a COVID positive patient sneezes, coughs, or speaks.

The SCONE uses negative pressure technology to clear these aerosols, allowing healthcare workers to transport patients, perform aerosol-generating procedures, and provide care for their patients without increasing their risk for COVID-19.

With the SCONE hospitals can be just as proactive about minimizing airborne transmission as they are with preventing COVID transmission through surfaces, protecting healthcare workers, patients, and hospital staff alike. 

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Brandon Lawrence, MD

Dr. Lawrence is an Emergency Medicine Physician born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, currently working in the west valley. From the start of the pandemic, he has been passionate about being on the forefront for care of his patients and protection for his fellow healthcare professionals. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, exercise and podcasting. He graduated from University of Arizona with a Bachelor's in Biochemistry and Michigan State University for his Medical Degree.