What We’re Reading: CDC Updates Surface Cleaning Guidelines; Fall in Suicide Rates; Montana COVID-19 Disparities

April 9, 2021
AJMC Staff

The CDC updates its guidelines on cleaning surfaces; 2020 saw a 6% decrease in suicide rates; racial COVID-19 disparities reported in Montana.

CDC Updates Surface Cleaning Recommendations

This week, the CDC updated its surface cleaning guidelines and reported that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a contaminated surface is less than 1 in 10,000, according to The New York Times. In the early days of the pandemic, researchers reported the virus could live for days on plastic or stainless steel. Based on this, the CDC advised if an individual touched these contaminated surfaces and then their eyes, nose, or mouth, they could become infected. However, experts now welcome the updated guidance and point to the lack of evidence indicating anyone has ever contracted COVID-19 from touching a contaminated surface. Updated guidelines state that when no one with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been in a space, cleaning once a day is usually sufficient to remove any virus that may be on a surface.

Largest Decrease in Suicide Rates Reported in 40 Years

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the number of US suicides fell by nearly 6%, marking the largest annual decline in at least 40 years, the Associated Press reports. The rate is based off of preliminary government data and the count could increase as death certificates continue to come in. However, officials anticipate a substantial decline will continue, defying concerns the pandemic would lead to more suicides. Increased availability of telehealth services and other efforts combatting the country’s suicide problem may have contributed to the decline. In 2018, the United States recorded its highest suicide rate since 1941, followed by a slight decrease in 2019. Last year, a total of 45,000 suicides were recorded—the lowest number since 2015.

Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Incidence, Mortality in Montana

Data from a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) show that in 2020, COVID-19 incidence and mortality rates among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals in Montana were 2.2 and 3.8 times those among White individuals, respectively. According to authors, these data underscore the importance of using state-level surveillance to develop tailored vaccine allocation strategies. Local implementation of culturally appropriate public health measures may also help reduce incidence and mortality in these populations. Notably, an additional CDC MMWR report found enforcement of stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and public health investigations reduced COVID-19 incidence in the Blackfeet Tribal Reservation in Montana from June through December 2020.