Lifespan of Corona virus

The new corona virus is a respiratory illness, which means it typically spreads via airborne droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets carrying viral particles can land on someone else’s nose or mouth or get inhaled.

But a person can sometimes get the corona virus if they touch a surface or object that has viral particles on it and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. The lifespan of the virus on a surface depends on myriad factors, including the surrounding temperature, humidity, and type of surface.

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

The corona virus can also live in the air for up to three hours, the study authors found.

How long the corona virus can survive on surfaces

The researchers compared the new corona virus’ lifespan on surfaces to that of the SARS corona virus in a 70-degree Fahrenheit room at 40% relative humidity. They found that both corona viruses lived the longest on stainless steel and polypropylene, a type of plastic used in everything from Tupperware to toys. Both viruses lasted up to three days on plastic, and the new corona virus lasted up to three days on steel.

On cardboard, however, the new corona virus lasted three times longer than SARS did: 24 hours, compared to eight hours.


Research (Renaldo et al 2020) published in the New England Journal of Medicine conducted by American scientists (p reprint here) suggests that the new corona virus (COVID-19) can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for as long as 2-3 days. They tested the virus by spraying into the air by a nebular mimicking the coughing action of an infected person. They found that it could be detected up to a minimum of 3 hours later in the air, up to 4 hours on copper surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.

The longevity of the virus was determined by studying the decay time or half-life of the virus, which is the time it takes for it to reduce in 50% tissue-culture infectious dose (TCID50) per litre of air. It was determined that the virus stayed on cardboard, stainless steel and plastic for the longest period, in comparison to copper and aerosol droplets.

On average, the half-life of the virus on plastic surface was the highest, with an average of 15.9 hours (high 19.2 hours), copper was lower 3.4 hours (high 5.11 hours), and stainless steel was 13.1 hours (high 16.1 hours). No research was conducted on fabric at all.

Also, no research was conducted that exposure to the sun for two hors reduced the half-life.

The study also suggests that the virus can spread through the air, from touching things that were contaminated by those who are infected, and through direct human contact. The virus was formerly known as HCoV-19, but is referred to as SARS-CoV2 in this study as the comparison of longevity was in comparison with the virus found in the previous corona virus outbreaks, known as SARS or SARS-CoV1 in the study quoted above.

This research estimated the decay rates of the corona virus on surfaces using a Bayesian regression model (Methods linked here)- where the relationship between a dependent variable and an independent variable (surface) is elucidated using the Bayes’ theorem – a hypothesis based on prior knowledge and updates as more information is available.


Thus, the corona virus could be detected up to a minimum of 3 hours later in the air, up to 4 hours on copper surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.

The results from this study indicate that the corona virus can be transmitted through aerosols (clusters of the virus in the air) aerosol and mites (objects such as plastic, steel, other metals contaminated with the virus) are plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days. No information was given on fabric in this study, but it is likely that the fabric remains contaminated hours after the exposure similar to cardboard. Furthermore, no study has been conducted that suggests sun exposure as a factor that reduces the virus.

Finally, the inability to detect the virus (under the detection threshold) is not equivalent to the complete elimination of the virus. However, to acquire an infection, one needs a minimum threshold or level or viral exposure. Hence, the claim on the longevity of 12 hrs is false. The virus remains intact on the surface for much longer.

Life span’s Response to Corona virus COVID-19

Corona virus Symptoms and Guidance While we stand ready to care for those who may need hospital-level care, public health officials have advised that those concerned about exposure to the virus who are experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms, especially with a recent international travel history or close contact with someone who has traveled, should NOT come unannounced to an emergency department or urgent care, but rather contact their primary provider or the Rhode Island Department of Health’s screening line at  401-222-8022. They will be counseled on whether, when and where the patient should be evaluated.

Lifespans system wide task force, formed in late January, is now in Incident Command mode, with daily system wide update meetings and heightened coordination of logistics with the identification of local presumptive positive cases. The team includes physicians with expertise in infectious diseases and infection control, hospital presidents and chief medical officers, chief nursing officers, and representation from outpatient practices. Support services including human resources, environmental services, supply chain, communications are also integral.

From the onset of global concerns about the virus, we have had in place screening algorithms for symptoms and travel history at points of entry for patients. Those algorithms are updated regularly as new information about the virus is available, including screening for travel to those areas known to have widespread, sustained community transmission.

Our visitation restrictions remain in place. No visitors will be allowed in adult units at our Lifespan hospitals. Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Bradley Hospital will have modified policies to allow for accompaniment by one parent. Newport Hospital maternity services will allow for a birthing partner only. Learn more about visiting Lifespan hospitals

General guidance and information

  • If you have traveled anywhere internationally in the last 14 days, self-quarantine for 14 days. That means do not go to work or school and stay at home.
  • Avoid all crowded places, large events, and mass gatherings. However, people should continue doing essential errands (such as going to the grocery store).
  • Through March 30th, there will be no on-site food consumption for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or other food establishments in Rhode Island. (Establishments with a food license can continue to conduct pick-up, drive-thru and delivery only.)
  • Whenever possible, avoid close personal contact with people in public. When greeting people avoid handshakes and hugs.

Medical and Quarantine Information

  • To prevent infection with COVID-19, the CDC recommends frequent hand washing with soap and warm water; coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue; avoid touching mouth, nose, and eyes; and if you are sick, stay at home. more
  • There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Rhode Island, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19. People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission).
  • Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19. Testing can only be done on individuals who have symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 and who have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or travel history to a country with ongoing community spread of COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms or history of travel is not recommended by CDC.
  • If you are subject to self-quarantine that means:
    • Stay home.
    • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
    • Do not use public transportation.
    • Separate yourself from other people in your home. As much as possible, you should stay in a different room from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should NOT go directly to a healthcare facility without calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).

Health Insurance Information

  • A special enrollment period for Rhode Islanders without health insurance is now available through April 15th, 2020 to qualified individuals who are uninsured. Visit to enroll, or call customer support or use our web chat function between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday at 1-855-840-4774. For anyone who is concerned that they need to be tested for corona virus — or anyone who is seeking care because of corona virus exposure — coverage will start retroactively.

School and Child Care Information

  • The next two weeks – from Monday, March 23rd through Friday April 3 – will be distance learning weeks for all public schools in Rhode Island. During this time, school buildings will be closed to students, but school will be taking place remotely in homes across the state. After two weeks, the Governor and Dr. Alexander-Scott will reevaluate the situation and make a new determination.
  • Due to the closure of schools, free “Grab and Go” meals are available for children throughout Rhode Island. more
  • Child care centers advised to close effective Tuesday, March 17th. more DHS website

Healthcare Facilities, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living

  • Nursing home administrators have been directed to not allow any visitors (unless they are essential to the care of a resident). Additionally, nursing home administrators have been directed to continue actively screening staff, vendors, and all other people who enter facilities for illness and COVID-19 risks (for example, travel history or exposure to someone under investigation for COVID-19).
  • Check hospital websites for visitation restrictions.

Employment Related Issues

  • The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has set up a COVID-19 Assistance Line and email address (401-462-2020; They are intended to provide support to people regarding COVID-19 and employment issues. The phone line is staffed Monday to Friday during business hours. fact sheet more

Commerce/Business Information

  • Information on SBA Disaster Loan Assistance – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced it is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Rhode Island small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Corona virus (COVID-19). More
  • Microsoft Free Offerings – For businesses, municipalities, K-12 and other entities, Microsoft is providing six months of Office 365 tools for free to enable remote collaboration, file sharing and video conferencing. They’re also offering free assistance to set up these tools. More

Medical Supply Donations

RIDOH State Health Laboratories have been testing RI patients for COVID-19 since February 29, 2020, when we had the first positive test result. We have significantly ramped up our capacity to test, but are now severely limited because of the nationwide shortage of critical supplies and reagents. We appreciate all offers of supplies we have received so far and are encouraged by the outpouring of support from the research community and the public. more

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