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Researchers find coronavirus can survive on outside of face masks for up to 7 days

That doesn't mean you shouldn't wear a facemask
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Posted at 3:23 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 22:06:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A newly released report, published in Lancet, found the coronavirus lasted on a surgical mask for seven days, proving, once more, how crucial it is to sanitize everything and wash your hands.

Previous research found that the coronavirus can live on copper for four hours, on cardboard for 24 hours, and on plastic for three days.

The lifespan of the coronavirus is also impacted by various factors such as temperature and humidity, which is why officials recommend regularly disinfecting household objects that people touch often, such as doorknobs, counter tops, and phones.

Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that the coronavirus is more stable on smooth surfaces.

For those worried about carrying viral particles while getting groceries or other essential items from the store, scientists said you should leave non-perishable items in their shopping bags for a day before handling them again.

The Lancet also studied the stability and amount of virus present over time on various surfaces, including tissues, wood, and cloth.

Given their findings, one of the researchers conducting the study advised people not to touch the outside of the face masks, which could contaminate the hands.

Researchers also doubled down on previous precautionary measures that washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and staying home are the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19.

Since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, researchers have been studying how long it can live on various surfaces, from cardboard to stainless steel.

It is known the virus is primarily a respiratory illness, and typically spreads via airborne droplets from an infected person's coughs or sneezes, but it can also be transmitted on objects if you grab something that has enough virus on it then touch your face.

After the White House recommended that all Americans wear face coverings in public, officials are increasingly suggesting that people craft their own out of scarves, bandanas, or T-shirts to save face masks for medical workers on the frontlines battling COVID-19.

Scientists are in consensus that staying home and social distancing as much as possible are the best ways to decrease the number of infections and "flatten the curve."

Properly wearing and taking off face masks is key. The CDC recommends wearing a snug, cloth face covering that goes over your mouth and nose, and that you wash it frequently in a washing machine, and offers guidelines here.

When you take it off, avoid touching the front of the mask where it's dirtiest, and wash your hands directly after.

Global Coronavirus Tracker:

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.