A study published by CDC shows that half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff treating COVID-19 patients tested positive
The rate of positivity was also high for computer mice, followed by trash cans and doorknobs
It is highly recommended to leave your shoes outside your home or in your garage
Several studies demonstrated that fomites or common objects of contamination by COVID-19 include cell phones, keyboards, doorknobs, faucets, toilet bowl, light switches, countertops, and furniture. Shoes were not shown to carry COVID-19 infection.
In fact, one study published in the journal Infection Control Hospital Epidemiology in March 2020, showed that samples taken from the top surface of the shoes of healthcare providers treating confirmed COVID-19 patients were negative. CDC does not recommend shoe covers as part of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients.
In this early release, pre-print, new study published by CDC proves that shoes can be carriers of COVID-19 infection. In this study, researchers collected samples from potentially contaminated objects in the ICU and general ward that housed confirmed COVID-19 patients. Samples were taken from the floors, computer mice, trash cans, sickbed handrails, patient masks, PPE and air outlets. As one can expect, the rate of positivity was higher for floor samples. In addition, the study also reported: “as medical staff walk around the ward, the virus can be tracked all over the floor, as indicated by the 100% rate of positivity from the floor in the pharmacy, where there were no patients.” Half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff tested positive.
It is interesting to note that the rate of positivity was also relatively high for the surfaces of the objects that were frequently touched by the medical staff. The highest rates were for computer mice, followed by trash cans, sickbed handrails and doorknobs in the ICU and general ward.
Strict PPE, handwashing and decontamination techniques are followed in the ICU and general wards of the hospital. If common objects like computer mice are contaminated even in this setting, just imagine what can happen in a community setting. This study clearly underscores the importance of strict handwashing both in healthcare and community settings.
As shoes can be potential carriers of COVID-19, it is advisable to wear shoe covers for healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. In the community, it is advisable to leave shoes outside your home or in your garage to protect your home from COVID-19. It is highly recommended not to wear shoes in your bed or on your couch.
Ong SWX, et al. Air, surface environmental, and personal protective equipment contamination by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from a symptomatic patient. JAMA. Published online March 4, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3227
Ong SWX et al. Absence of contamination of personal protective equipment (PPE) by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020 Mar 26:1-6. doi: 10.1017/ice.2020.91.
Guo Z-D, Wang Z-Y, Zhang S-F, Li X, Li L, Li C, et al. Aerosol and surface distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in hospital wards, Wuhan, China, 2020. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Jul. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.200885