New Brunswick, N.J., April 6, 2021 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and proper building ventilation to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The updated guidelines address when and how to clean and disinfect surface areas, facilities, buildings and non-emergency vehicles to reduce the spread of the virus from surfaces as more spaces begin to open across the nation. The guidance is not intended for healthcare settings or for other facilities where specific regulations or practices for cleaning and disinfection may apply. The updated guidelines emphasize that the risk of infection from contaminated surfaces is low, a topic explored by researchers from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In two separate studies conducted earlier in the pandemic, investigators evaluated the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, the virus that causes COVID-19, on various environmental surfaces in outpatient and inpatient hematology/oncology settings as well as the radiation oncology department located within Rutgers Cancer Institute and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. The study exploring the radiation oncology department revealed no detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, and the study exploring hematology/oncology settings revealed extremely low detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on environmental surfaces, both demonstrating that enhanced safety policies are effective and patients frequenting these areas should have minimal concerns.

The following experts from Rutgers Cancer Institute in partnership with RWJBarnabas Health are able to discuss how the updated guidelines may impact those with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients, both in and out of the health care environment.

Andrew M. Evens, DO, MSc, associate director for Clinical Services and director of the Lymphoma Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute and medical director of the Oncology Service Line at RWJBarnabas Health, is an international expert on lymphoma with clinical expertise and research interests fully dedicated to the field.  Dr. Evens is co-chair of the Lymphoma Committee for the ECOG-ACRIN cancer research group and is an elected member of the North American Scientific Advisory Board for the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF). He is senior author of the work that explored SARS-CoV2 surface testing of hematology/oncology inpatient and outpatient settings and can comment on the updated guidelines.

Bruce G. Haffty, MD,  associate vice chancellor for Cancer Programs and chair of Radiation Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute has served in numerous leadership roles related to research and education in radiation oncology including president of the American Board of Radiology, the major certifying organization for the practice of diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics. He also served as president and Chairman of the Board of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), which is the world’s largest radiation oncology society. Dr. Haffty led the study from Rutgers Cancer Institute that explored surface testing of environmental surfaces in the radiation oncology clinic and is available to comment on the updated CDC guidelines.