Can coronavirus be spread by coming in contact with something that someone with the virus has touched?
— Faith A., 10, Huron, Ohio
There is good evidence that the novel coronavirus that causes covid-19 can hang out on certain surfaces.
For instance, one study found that the virus can survive on the outer layer of an unwashed surgical mask for up to one week. Likewise, it can linger on a steel surface, such as the ones found in restaurant kitchens, up to three days. The coronavirus seems able to live on cardboard only for about 24 hours. And copper, which has natural antimicrobial properties, appears to kill the virus in about four hours.
We can fight the virus’s ability to survive on surfaces by cleaning them well and protect ourselves with hand-washing. But as more and more areas reopen during the summer, it will still be a good idea to avoid touching doorknobs, handrails and other frequently touched surfaces whenever possible.