Local doctors discuss the lifespan of COVID-19

How long it lasts on different surfaces


Sanjey Gupta, M.D., chair of emergency medicine at Southside Hospital, explained that only recently the Rocky Mountain Laboratories found out how long the COVID-19 virus lasted on several common surfaces.

Mimicking household and hospital settings in controlled temperatures, he said, researchers found that the virus on copper lasted only four hours compared to stainless steel, which could last up to two to three days. Meaning, stainless steel appliances and doorknobs could potentially spread the illness for that long as well.

Also, when mimicking the spread of the virus by coughing or sneezing through aerosol spraying droplets in the air, he said, it lasted three hours, attributing to the currently known transmission rate, which is at two to three people per infected person, comparable to the common flu.

“However, at this point we know so little about this virus, and if we are picking it up from surfaces or through droplets transmission,” he added, urging the general public to practice good hygiene and hand-washing.

Cell phones, he said are almost like an appendage, and though it’s unknown exactly how long the virus lasts on the surface, it is known that it last about three hours on plastics and 24 hours on cardboard. However, it doesn’t last very long on clothing.

“In general, cell phones are full of bacteria, so it’s important that while we are promoting good hand-washing, we also promote wiping down surfaces, doorknobs and our cell phones too,” he added, stating that cell phones are constantly touching our faces as well.

He also urged those who feel sick to stay home, and if they know someone who is sick, to stay away. If you are using hand sanitizer, he added, make sure it is at least 60 percent alcohol-based for effectiveness.

Lastly, if you have been to a high-risk country or exposed to someone who has COVID-19, be sure to self-isolate for 14 days. Also, stay home if you are feeling sick, but there is no need to rush to the hospital, he added.

Southside Hospital does not have rapid check-in; however, the hospital is checking people as they enter and supplying them with masks as necessary. If the person has been exposed, they will be seen right away and put in private areas.

According to Long Island Community Hospital’s chief quality medical officer, Dr. Wehbeh, health care professionals and government health care advisers’ knowledge of COVID-19 is increasing every day.

“Since objects and surfaces could be a source of contamination, we recommend to wash your hands often,” he added. “Remember, scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

Who can be tested?

Dr. Wehbeh said testing at this time is still limited. People should call their physician to determine if they need a test.

If you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, including a fever or a cough, you should contact your primary care physician. However, if your symptoms feel worse or you are having trouble breathing, call the hospital and then head to the emergency department entrance, he said. Also, make sure you alert staff as soon as you enter so that they can take proper action to treat you safely.

Also, if you have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea or Japan, or think you may have been exposed to a confirmed coronavirus patient and you are experiencing symptoms, please stay away from public areas and call your doctor.


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