CLEVELAND — A recent study conducted in China and published on the CDC's website found genetic material from the novel coronavirus on about half of the samples they took from the bottoms of medical workers' shoes.
The study says shoes could potentially act as carriers for COVID-19, and it is recommended that people disinfect their shoes before walking out of hospitals (especially certain wards). But could this be a new major transmission of the virus? Experts say that's highly unlikely.
Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, pulmonary and critical care specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, published an article Tuesday that dived deeper into the study. While it is true that the shoe samples tested positive for coronavirus, Khabbaza notes it was not specified whether the samples were "viable," meaning the germs on the footwear could've been harmless. Furthermore, this "very small" test only occurred inside a medical setting, so it is unclear if the virus could spread this way from everyday activity such as walking down the street.
"If coronavirus droplets are on the bottom of your shoes, even if they are viable, they would only be able to cause an infection in you if you were to touch that surface directly and then touch your face," Khabbaza wrote.
Experiments have concluded COVID-19 can live up to three days on certain surfaces, although even this occurred in controlled environments. Khabbaza and others agree the disease mainly spreads through germ droplets or (as previously mentioned) touching your own face with unwashed hands.
"So while it won’t hurt to clean your shoes and avoid wearing them in the house, practicing regular hand sanitizing, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and social distancing are your best bets for avoiding infection," he said.