Coronavirus: How Long Can It Live, What You Can Do

Coronavirus: How Long Can It Live, What You Can Do

( – As of Wednesday, April 1, about half of US states have issued restrictions asking people to stay indoors unless they absolutely have to go out. How long will this isolation last? Part of the answer may depend on how seriously people take measures to avoid bringing the virus into their homes — and given how long it might live outside the body, you may want to take careful measures for a while.

Quick Read:
A recent study tested how long the novel coronavirus can persist on different surfaces. The findings show the virus can survive for varying lengths of time, depending on the type of surface. COVID can’t live longer than 4 hours on copper, but it can survive 24 hours on cardboard and at least 3 days on stainless steel and plastic. You can protect yourself from potentially contaminated surfaces by using disinfectant sprays and wipes or a solution of bleach and water and by washing your hands regularly. Get more details on keeping yourself safe from contamination.

See How Long the Coronavirus Survives on Surfaces and What to Do About It.

How Long Can COVID-19 Live?

A study organized by the National Institutes of Health, along with scientists from UCLA, Princeton University and the CDC, showed the novel coronavirus might be able to persist on numerous materials. Researchers found the virus could survive on copper — a known antimicrobial surface — for up to 4 hours. But it survived up to 24 hours on more hospitable surfaces like cardboard.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared the lifespan of the novel coronavirus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, to the original SARS-CoV-1 virus. The two fared equally on most surfaces, although the novel coronavirus lasted about three times longer on cardboard. Stainless steel and plastic harbored detectable levels of both viruses for up to three days. Other research on coronaviruses suggests some strains of SARS might persist on surfaces for even longer.

These studies demonstrate how coronaviruses might spread not only through the air, where it can persist for hours, but also through numerous mundane surfaces. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to wash your hands thoroughly after touching anything out in public and to sanitize anything you bring into your home.

What You Can Do

Your best defense against getting sick, no matter where you are, is to keep your hands clean. Make sure you’re washing them correctly, using soap and water, especially after coming in contact with surfaces other people may have touched. And that includes your daily mail, which you might consider giving a light misting with a disinfectant spray like Lysol before bringing inside.

The CDC recommends regularly disinfecting all surfaces you and other people are most likely to touch throughout the day, such as doorknobs, light switches, tabletops, faucet handles, toilet handles and bathroom fixtures. Many disinfectant sprays and wipes will work, or you can mix 1/3 cup of bleach with a gallon of water to clean most nonporous surfaces. Remember never to mix bleach with any other types of cleaners.

The novel coronavirus could live a long time on surfaces that might find their way into your home. Protect yourself by sanitizing everything you bring in and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently. Every action we take to help contain this pandemic is a step in keeping every person we know and love safe.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!

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