How long does the coronavirus live on a surface?

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 17:55:24-04

NORFOLK, Va. - With the spread of coronavirus, people now seem to be second-guessing the surfaces they touch.

There are conflicting ideas about how long a virus can live, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it can be viable for hours to days.

Early research by scientists at the National Institutes of Health suggests the virus could be "detected in aerosols up to three hours post aerosolization, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel."

It's also predicted that the virus can be viable from anywhere between three and nine days. Public health officials at Old Dominion University are following the pandemic closely. Professor Sean Banaee says, "if you compare different surfaces like plastic, wood, the windowsill or even clothing - the coronavirus doesn't have the same lifetime."

Banaee says how long it lasts depends on how porous an area is and the environment. For example, sunlight and heat and humidity can all play a role in how the virus changes.

While the developing studies can be ever-changing and at times conflicting, Professor Muge Akpinar-Elci with ODU says one thing seems to ring true, "this one is very aggressive and that's why it's happening right now." That's why prevention is the most important thing.

Experts recommend always disinfecting surfaces that are frequently used like keyboards, desks and any shared spaces. Killing the virus before it spreads can make all the difference.

"We need to know the acts that everyone needs to understand the facts and how they can prevent it themselves," Akpinar-Elci says.