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Staying Healthy: How To Minimize Your Risks Of Catching The Coronavirus (COVID-19)

New Coronavirus Stable For Hours On Surfaces, SARS-Cov-2 stability is similar to original SARS virus - National Institutes of Health


Wash Coronavirus Away With Soap and Water

Coronavirus Survives For Hours In Air & On Surfaces

The National Institute of Health (NIH) article on how long the coronavirus survives on different surfaces basically says that you and I can catch the virus through the air and by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus remains stable and hence viable in the air for up to 3 hours, copper is 3 hours, paper and cardboard is 24 hours, and plastic and stainless steel is 3 whole days!

How Long Coronavirus Survives On Surfaces

What Does This Mean? Here's The Advice I Am Sharing With My Family

The most logical way to interpret this information is to continue social distancing, washing your hands, minimizing trips for groceries and errands, and being cautious of all surfaces you may come into contact with. Here's what I plan to share with my family:

Here Is a Great Video Explaining Safe Grocery Shopping

Canned Food - the cans that our canned food come in are typically made from steel and/or aluminum cans. Therefore, assume if someone stood over the can on the shelf in the grocery store and coughed or sneezed on that can before you picked up the can, that the virus can be viable and can infect you for up to 3 days. I’m telling my family if they buy canned food, bring it home, leave it in the plastic bag, somewhere in their house that the kids and dogs will not get into it, preferably a garage, and don’t touch it for at least 6 days. I’m doubling the recommendation given by the NIH for my family. After you put the bags somewhere to store for stated period of time, wash your hands and wash them well. After the 6 days have passed any virus on the plastic bags and cans should no longer be viable and those objects should be safe to handle, use and consume. And by the way, the shopping cart handle – consider that contaminated with virus too. Use gloves when pushing that cart around, if you have them, and sanitize your hands after you are done.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables - this is a tough one. If someone coughs up the virus on a banana, apple, tomato at the grocery store, before you pick up and buy the item, how do you safely eat the item without getting the virus? There is NO GUIDANCE from the NIH document about how long the virus can live on fresh fruits and veggies. I’m therefore telling my family to go with canned vegetable and fruits for the time being and observe the advice on Canned Food above for canned veggies and fruits they buy. If for some reason you have to buy a fresh fruit or vegetable, then cook it. For example, a tomato in making pasta sauce or soup. Heat will destroy the viability of the virus. And wash your hands well, after touching the object and after you put it in the pan or pot to cook. Once cooked, you should be good.

Mail, Amazon Packages, etc. – Consider this under the category of paper and cardboard. I’m bringing in the mail and amazon packages and leaving them in the garage for 2 days (twice the NIH time of 24 hours). And then immediately going to wash my hands well after putting the items in the garage. After the time period has passed, any virus that might have been on those surfaces should no longer be viable and those items should be safe to handle.

Gas Pumps and Payment Keyboards – Consider them all contaminated with virus. Wear gloves. Or use a paper towel when handling the gas pump and inputting your credit card code into the keypad on the pump terminals. Discard the glove or paper towel afterwards. Some stations have purell sanitizer near or at the pumps. Consider the push bars on those to be contaminated. After filling up, even with using gloves and towels, consider your hands contaminated. Keep your hands away from your face, your mouth, nose and eyes – all entry points for the virus to get into your body. As soon as possible, wash your hands well. If you have hand sanitizer in your car, I am telling my family that is preferable to using the ones attached to the gas pump that the public is touching and using and possibly transferring the virus to.

Advice on the “Aerosol” piece – NIH is saying the virus can be airborne for 3 hours. This could be after someone sneezes or coughs or perhaps even just breathing. There are reported stories of people who have come down with the virus that had dinner with friends before ever showing symptoms, before developing a cough, and their friends at the dinner table also caught the virus. This suggests that merely breathing can pass the virus and this is supported in part by the NIH article linked here. I’m advising my family to absolutely minimize the amount of trips into public and to maximize distance between them and others when in public. This is what is driving the “social distancing” talk.

Take Out Food From Restaurants – I’m a small business owner. I appreciate small business owners and don’t want any small business owners to be hurt. The reality is almost every business is going to be hurt by this crisis. Many states have ordered dine in restaurants and bars closed while allowing them to continue to serve food via takeout orders. I’m telling my family not to do any take out. It could take only one kitchen worker or cashier in a restaurant who has the virus and does not yet realize it to cough, sneeze, or even breathe on your take-out order and then you will bring the virus home to your family. For maximum safety, I’m advising my family “No Take Out” – NONE, Nada, ZERO!

The above advice is how I’m behaving and how I’m asking my family and loved ones to behave.

If you’re struggling with what all the information floating around in the news and internet means to you and your family on a daily basis, then I hope this helps you in making decisions that are in the best interests of your health and your families health during this crisis. I cannot guarantee that any of this will prevent you from catching the virus. But the above is how I am behaving, based on all the information I presently have.

Summary: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Particles Survive For Hours

With coronavirus particulates surviving for up to 3 days it is better to be safe than sorry later. Consider all surfaces contaminated. Don't touch your face. Set groceries aside for a minimum of 3 days. That's what I am telling my family. I wish the best to you and your family.

  • Aerosolized (air) - 3 Hours
  • Copper - 4 Hours
  • Paper / Cardboard - 24 Hours
  • Plastic & Stainless Steel - 3 Days!
Coronavirus Related News Articles

About The Author

About the author

Brian Strayer is an engineer, lawyer, and business leader. Brian’s past adventures include many years advising the top leaders of a NYSE listed multi-national on a wide variety of matters, from intellectual property to M&A, including serving as head of the legal department, before transitioning into running industrial operations. Today, Brian uses his science, engineering and law background to solve practical problems standing in the way of reducing expenses and growing sales. When not working, Brian enjoys sailing, playing chess, fishing and hunting.

Keywords: coronavirus, covid-19, stay, healthy, groceries, survive, air, surfaces, hours, days

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