Over 45% of all COVID-19 fatalities in the U.S. have taken place in long-term care settings. The response to the outbreak has been complicated by a lack of personal protective equipment and sufficient human testing resources. The high rate of asymptomatic spreaders of the disease makes screening programs ineffective. More than half of carriers shedding virus and infecting others have no symptoms whatsoever. Surface testing for virus has been used for over a decade, and has been brought to bear in the COVID-19 epidemic in acute care settings.
This study used surface testing in 52 long-term care facilities over a 5-week period to determine if outbreaks can be detected earlier by monitoring the environment for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and to understand how the virus is distributed on indoor surfaces.