YOUR QUESTIONS: Does the virus live on surfaces?

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Salem Reporter turned to various experts to find out answers to questions from readers ranging from how many people are asymptomatic to who can get tested. The Marion County Health Department, Oregon Health Authority and Salem Health all participated by responding to the community’s questions. We are featuring a question a day to share the information.

Q: What I’d like to know is what is the latest evidence as to how long the virus lives on surfaces? I’ve heard various things but am not sure of the most current information.

A: There’s still a lot we don’t know about how long the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, lives on surfaces. Depending on the material, it may survive for hours to days. The World Health Organization points to studies that show the COVID-19 virus “can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard.” When coronavirus is exposed to sunlight outdoors, some evidence suggests that it can be inactivated in minutes. It’s important to remember that the virus is most commonly spread from person to person among close contacts, or individuals within 6 feet of each other, through respiratory droplets rather than through objects and surfaces, like doorknobs, countertops, keyboards or toys. The best way to protect yourself is by avoiding touching your eyes, mouth, or nose after coming in contact with high-touch surfaces, frequently cleaning these surfaces with household cleaners and disinfectants, and washing your hands often with regular soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer.

-Dr. Melissa Sutton, public health physician, Oregon Health Authority

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? If we have an answer already, we’ll send it along. If not, we’ll see if we can find an expert to answer your question. Email your question to: [email protected].

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