Can you get coronavirus from everyday objects?

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 4:23 PM EDT
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A reminder now about how long this coronavirus can live on surfaces.

According to experts at the NIH and the CDC, COVID-19 lives in the air for up to three hours, on copper for four hours, on cardboard for 24 hours and it can live for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

We have heard from many of you asking about the possibility of contracting the coronavirus from everyday objects, so we sent our Kelly O'Brien to see if that is possible.

Health experts around the world, from organizations like the CDC and the World Health Organization, say the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, so think coughing and sneezing.

"How do we create droplets? Well, we create them when we speak but we create a lot of them when we cough," said Dr. Wouter Rietsema of the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.

"It may live on a surface for a day or two," said Andrea Whitmarsh of the Essex County Health Department.

So you've heard how long the coronavirus can live on a surface but should you be worried about everyday items like your mail?

"The likelihood of you getting this from an inanimate object like mail-- it's really low," said Dr. Keith Collins of CVPH. "You really need to worry about people that are coughing."

The Essex County Health Department says contracting COVID-19 from surfaces like money or food is something people shouldn't be too worried about.

"It's distancing between the person and the person bringing you your food, but as far as handling the food or the packaging, again, that's a really low risk of transmission, it's not a foodborne illness," Whitmarsh said.

The health department says when it comes to heading to the grocery store, you don't need to worry as long as you keep your distance from other shoppers.

"Social distancing in that aspect but not actually handling their groceries of that nature and when you get home from being outside, wash your hands," Whitmarsh said.

Doctors have found that as the virus-filled droplets sit on any surface, it begins to break down

"When it dried out, that's basically the end of it," Collins said.

Health officials say if a person is at all nervous about contracting the virus after touching a surface, although unlikely, wash your hands with soap and water and don't touch your face.

"That's really an extra precaution if people are worried, I would say there is really low risk," Whitmarsh said.

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