COVID-19 FAQs: Can the coronavirus live on surfaces?

You can catch virus from table tops, doorknobs but more likely from other people

Coronaviruses under electron microscope on blue background. Illustration of COVID-19.

There is continued concern through the coronavirus pandemic over the transmission of the virus through high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, railings and table tops.

As visitor restrictions loosen and more people enter public spaces, safety is still top of mind.

Early research led to rigorous disinfecting and sanitizing frequently used surfaces, but the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that it’s less likely to contract the virus this way.

Studying how long a virus lives on any given surface is the beauty of science, according to Sanford Health chief medical officer Allison Suttle, M.D.

“What researchers have been able to determine is that the infectivity goes away very quickly,” Dr. Suttle said. “When you’re walking through a grocery store and touching things, the likelihood of getting COVID is now significantly less. Before, we just didn’t know that information.”

While we might be able to ease up on the constant surface cleaning, we’re strongly encouraged to continue other methods of safety, like wearing a face mask.

“The vast majority of infections come from being close next to another individual less than six feet away and having a conversation for more than five minutes,” Dr. Suttle told Sanford Health News. “Those close contacts, without wearing masks where there are droplets that can be exchanged, will be the highest likelihood of getting infected. Wearing masks out in public, wearing masks when you’re close by other people is the best thing you can do.”

Keep in mind, she said, mask-wearing is not always to protect yourself but another individual.

“By wearing a mask – if I happen to be infected and I don’t know it yet – I’m preventing that virus from getting to you. Wearing that mask is me saying ‘I’m taking care of you’. Wearing a mask is you taking care of me.”

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Posted In Coronavirus, Frequently Asked Questions, Healthy Living, News

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