• Atlanta Northcutt

How Long Can the Coronavirus Live on a Variety of Objects?



James Clark


You’ve just bought a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

So how long can the coronavirus live on the $3.19 change you’ve handed by the clerk?

According to recent studies, COVID-19 can live about four hours on the pennies in your pocket and four days on the bills you just placed in your wallet.

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine and a journal called The Lancet Microbe indicates coronavirus typically spreads by droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets carry viral particles and can land on someone’s nose or mouth or get inhaled.

But researchers note the virus can also be transmitted if a person touches a surface or object that has COVID-19 infection on it, then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. The lifespan of the virus on a given surface depends on several factors, including air temperature, humidity, and type of surface.

A study published April 2 in The Lancet Microbe said COVID-19 lasts longest on the outer layer of surgical masks – a lifespan of seven days.

That study also indicated after three hours, the virus had disappeared from copy and tissue paper. It took two days for it to leave wood and cloth fabric. After four days, it was no longer detectable on glass or paper money.

The New England Journal of Medicine study suggested a shorter lifespan of three days for COVID-19 on plastic and stainless steel. The Lancet Microbe study indicated a seven-day lifespan for the virus on those surfaces.

While the lifespan of the virus differed somewhat in the two studies, the overriding message is consistent. COVID-19 can remain on surfaces for days so be sure to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your mouth, nose and mouth.

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