Q&A with Infection Prevention Expert on CDC Revised Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Facilities for SARS-CoV-2 in Community Settings

Author: Debra Hagberg MT (ASCP), CIC

Categories: General Infection Prevention, Long Term Care & Surface Disinfection May 13, 2021
ES Healthcare Worker wiping down Bedraid

On April 5, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released revised guidance on cleaning and disinfecting of facilities every day and for when someone is sick with COVID-19. While this guidance is focused on community settings, there continues to be some confusion and misinterpretation regarding the cleaning and disinfection of healthcare facilities. The below Q&A is intended to clarify what is included in the revised guidance and reinforces the importance of proper cleaning and disinfection within healthcare facilities against SARS-CoV-2 and other important epidemiologic pathogens.

As questions surfaced from our customers for clarification, PDI reached out to our Director of Clinical Affairs, Debra Hagberg, to answer some top-of-mind questions regarding the revised guideline.

Who is the intended audience for the CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfection of facilities released in April 2021?

Hagberg: The targeted audience for this revised guidance is community building owners or operators. As stated within the guidance, “This guidance is not intended for healthcare settings or for operators of facilities such as food and agricultural production or processing workplace settings, manufacturing workplace settings, or food preparation and food service areas where specific regulations or practices for cleaning and disinfection may apply.”[1]

Can environmental surfaces be a source of infection from SARS-CoV-2?

Hagberg: Yes, SARS-CoV-2 can contaminate and survive on environmental surfaces for some period of time, dependent on the type of surface and other environmental factors. The virus can enter a person’s body when hands touch a contaminated surface, and unwashed hands then touch a person’s eyes/mouth/nose. However, the primary mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets from one infected person to another when talking, sneezing, singing, coughing, etc.

Why did the CDC guidance change for community settings?

Hagberg: The CDC believes that in most situations, the risk is low: “Because of the many factors affecting the efficiency of environmental transmission, the relative risk of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considered low compared with direct contact, droplet transmission, or airborne transmission.”[2] Please visit the CDC website to learn more about the available science/research and the reasoning behind this change.

What is included in this guidance?

Hagberg: The guidance is quite extensive and broken down into several components, including [3]:

  • When to clean (soap/water) and when to disinfect (EPA registered product*)
    • Clean when no one with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been present in the facility.
    • Clean once a day to help maintain a healthy building.
    • Clean and Disinfect when:
      • There are a high number of COVID-19 cases in the community.
      • There are a low number of people wearing masks.
      • The frequency of hand hygiene is inconsistent.
      • The facility is occupied by people at an increased risk for COVID-19.
      • A sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours is in your facility.
  • Routine cleaning protocols
    • Develop plan.
    • Implement plan.
    • Alternative disinfection methods.
  • Clean and disinfect specific types of surfaces.
    • Soft surfaces
    • Laundry
    • Electronics
    • Outdoor areas
  • Clean and disinfect facility when someone is sick.
    • If less than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, clean and disinfect the space.
    • If more than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, cleaning is enough.
    • If more than 3 days have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, no additional cleaning (beyond regular cleaning practices) is needed.
  • Additional considerations for employers

What should be the main takeaways around this recent change?

Hagberg: There are a few main takeaways that I would emphasize regarding this recent guidance:

  • First and foremost, the guidance around cleaning and disinfection of healthcare facilities has not changed. More information can be found on the CDC website
  • For community settings; the risk may be low. However, there are extenuating circumstances that should be well understood by the community/public by reading all the guidance provided by CDC.
  • Lastly, infection prevention measures, such as environmental cleaning/disinfection, physical distancing, hand hygiene, wearing PPE (including masks), and vaccination, are still critical in reducing the risk of transmission.

*For more information on the PDI Products that are on EPA List N and have the SARS-CoV-2 claim, click here.

*For more information on the PDI Products that are on EPA List N and have the SARS-CoV-2 claim, click here.


Debra Hagberg MT (ASCP), CIC
debra Director, Clinical Affairs, PDI


Debra (Deb) started her career in the microbiology laboratory. Though loving the daily reading of cultures, her passion for infection prevention surfaced when an opportunity to become an Infection Preventionist (IP) opened up in her organization. Deb’s strong background in microbiology and infectious disease made the transition to an IP role easier.

After several years in healthcare, Deb took a role as PDI’s first Clinical Science Liaison (CSL), providing clinical expertise to customers in the Northeast region of the country.

Learn more about Debra here.



Phone: 508-612-3032

Email: Debra.hagberg@pdihc.com

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