New study: Virus could live longer on stainless steel, plastic than copper, cardboard

Experts are still learning how COVID-19 spreads from person to person, but new research suggests the virus can survive hours, or even days, on certain surfaces.

Closures at tollbooths across the state had some drivers confused Thursday. Both the Florida Turnpike System and the Central Florida Expressway System are no longer staffing booths to collect cash payments in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and keep toll collectors safe.

Even some businesses are going cashless, as a precaution.

“Nobody knows if it’s transmitted that way, we won’t know that unless it is actually studied with that, and we don’t have that information,” said Dr. Wassam Rahman, emergency center medical director at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

READ: Proper social distancing will save lives, experts say

Experts believe community spread is now a major problem, with most people catching COVID-19 from other people through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. Social distancing, they say, is the best way to keep from getting sick, at this point.

The CDC says it is also possible to contract COVID-19 through surface transmission. That means touching something that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

“Hopefully, soon we’ll find out exactly how it transmits and how long it actually lives on the more practical surfaces such as cash, and you know, paper, and magazines, and newspapers,” Rahman said.

A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the virus could live up to four hours on copper, up to a day on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

INFO: Social distancing: What to do and what not to do to slow the spread of COVID-19

However, experts say it is unlikely someone would get sick from touching delivery boxes coming to your house.

“Different surfaces, different texture, different viral load, we don’t know, but it will be there, it doesn’t go away in minutes,” said Rahman. “If you’re concerned about a surface, you can clean it, that’s the best thing you can do.”

Rahman says no one needs to be afraid to touch things but to try to avoid putting your hands on your face, wash your hands and wrists with soap frequently, and stay six feet away from other people.

“Right now people are scared, and you know we’re just trying to survive the best we can,” he said.