With more than 46,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US (and more than 392,000 cases worldwide), it’s clear that the novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19), along with the anxiety surrounding it, isn’t going anywhere soon.
Because the virus is so new (it’s technically called SARS-CoV-2, FYI), lots of the fear surrounding COVID-19 stems from how little we know about it. Luckily, experts do know some pretty important things about the virus’ transmission, or how the coronavirus does—and doesn’t—spread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is mainly spread from person-to-person, usually via close contact (within six feet). It can spread through physical contact like handshaking if someone’s hands are contaminated with the virus. And it can also spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (again, that’s why the six-feet rule is handy: those droplets can travel that far, and land on another person’s mouth or nose, and can even be inhaled).
The virus may also spread from person-to-person through surfaces that have been touched by those infected. “A sneezing or coughing person will cover their mouth, get it all over their hand, and then touch something that you then touch,” Robert Murphy, MD, an infectious disease expert at Northwestern University, tells Health. The virus can then gain entry into your body when you touch your own face, he adds. That’s precisely why experts can only preach basic disease-prevention measures, like washing hands correctly (20 seconds with soap and water) and regularly, wiping down common surfaces, and staying away from sick people.
Even if we don’t know exactly how long the virus lingers on surfaces, we do know that disinfecting surfaces is considered “best practice” for helping to prevent transmission of the virus. So again, wiping down common surfaces (and avoiding touching common surfaces if possible) will help decrease the spread. The CDC recommends cleaning tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles regularly. However, it’s unlikely that COVID-19 is spread by mail or packages; if it were, there’d be even more cases.
So, that’s all. Keep quarantined and make sure to sanitize your in home surfaces.