The CDC has made clear that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease transmitted mainly through human-to-human interaction but noted last spring that "it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly their eyes."
The CDC website now cites several studies that "suggest that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection via the fomite transmission route is low, and generally less than 1 in 10,000, which means that each contact with a contaminated surface has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection."
The agency cites 2020 studies from the American Journal of Infection Control and Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The studies note that transmission through surfaces is less likely outdoors than indoors.
The surface survival of COVID-19 on indoor surfaces including steel, glass and plastic does not last beyond three days, though "porous" surfaces may hold the virus longer, according to the CDC. The agency notes that experimental conditions do not necessarily imitate real-world conditions.
While cleaning products with disinfectants registered on the Environmental Protection Agency's List N help clean dirt and bacteria from surfaces, the CDC says "there is little scientific support for routine use of disinfectants" in both indoor and outdoor community settings "to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission" from surfaces.
The agency recommends, however, that high-touch, indoor surfaces be disinfected within 24 hours when a COVID-19 case is traced to an indoor setting.