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CDC: virus does not 'spread easily' on surfaces

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Updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control says the coronavirus does not 'spread easily' from touching surfaces or objects.

"If I pick up a respiratory virus in a small amount on a surface, it may still happen, it's just harder to do," Dr. Catherine O'Neal, an Infectious Disease doctor at Our Lady of the Lake said. "Both can give you the infection. You are more likely to get the infection because you were sneezed or coughed on."

According to the CDC, the possibility that coronavirus could be transmitted by touching a surface — and then your nose, mouth or eyes — is much lower than person-to-person contact.

O'Neal says to become infected with COVID-19, the virus must come in contact with your respiratory tract, most commonly, through your mouth or nose.

"The most efficient way that it's going to spread from you to me, or from me to you, is by sneezing or coughing on each other," O'Neal said. "Whispering in each other's ears, yelling too loud too close to each other."

Original reports showed the virus could stay on surfaces such as plastic or stainless steel for weeks. However, experts now say the virus will only survive for a few days on softer surfaces. 

Experts note that the harder the surface, the longer the virus can live. Doctors say it can survive on glass for up to 96 hours. 

Even though you are less likely to contract the virus through a surface or object, O'Neal warns it is still very much a possibility, and the best way to avoid other people's coughs, sneezes, and respiratory droplets is to practice social distancing. 

"If my child sneezes on my countertop, and I touch that countertop and bring it to my nose, I could still get the virus," O'Neal said. "But that's not the most efficient way to spread the virus. We're still wiping down common-touched surfaces. We're still washing our hands frequently."

For more from the CDC on how the virus spreads, click here.


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