How Long Does the Coronavirus Live on Surfaces? Covid-19 FAQs

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How Long Does the Coronavirus Live on Surfaces? Covid-19 FAQs

If you’ve got kids at home, it’s even more important to maintain a daily routine. Try to stick to a typical schedule: breakfast at breakfast time, schoolwork or structured playtime during the day, and some activity in the afternoon. If you need to lean on television or a tablet more heavily in the next few weeks, don’t sweat it too much. Most learning will need to happen via screen, and letting your kids connect with their friends while isolated can help keep them sane. Check out WIRED’s guide to gear in the time of coronavirus for some of the best subscription services, toys, and games to keep the family entertained.

16. Any tips for those working at home?

Covid-19 has ushered in the largest involuntary remote working experiment to date, with many desk workers now being asked to stay at home and clock in remotely. Will it prove once and for all that a common workspace is irrelevant, or will it reinforce the need for in-person collaboration? It’s too soon to tell, but there are a few ways those just now testing the work-from-home waters can make the transition easier.

Create a space dedicated to work, outside of the bedroom and away from the couch, if you can. Put on some clothes you wouldn’t be totally embarrassed to enter the office in, and keep the TV off until you’re done for the day. It’s hard to believe, but when you don’t have the mental partition of a commute to and from the office to help you decompress at the end of a day, it can be difficult to disengage. Try powering down Slack or email at the end of the day and take a quick walk around the block. Even under a shelter-in-place order, most locations are letting folks get out for some fresh air and exercise. Just don’t forget to keep a little distance (about 6 feet) between you and anyone else who’s out and about.

Read all of our coronavirus coverage here.

17. Does hand-washing work?

Yes! Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the most effective ways to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus (or any virus, for that matter). A virus is contained within a fatty lipid barrier, which it uses to bind to your cells and spread throughout your body. When you break this greasy envelope, you kill the virus. What’s tough on grease? Hand soap and sanitizer (you can even make your own).

Though a virus on your hands can’t break the skin barrier to infect you (except through a cut or abrasion), it can enter your system if you touch your face and it wends its way into one of the many openings there. So wash your hands, and seriously, don’t touch your face.

18. What are “mild” symptoms?

Early analysis indicates that about 80 percent of coronavirus cases are nonsevere, but what does that mean? According to WHO, mild symptoms include the sniffles, coughing, sore throat, and a low-grade fever—pretty much a cold. If you’re showing mild respiratory symptoms, even if you think it might be coronavirus, the CDC recommends you isolate at home and contact your health care provider. Telemedical services are now provided through most health insurance plans, and staying put for your appointment reduces the risk of transmission to others.

If you start experiencing more severe symptoms like sustained difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal distress, confusion, or are coughing up blood or large amounts of mucus, inform your doctor to evaluate whether or not you need additional treatment.

19. When should I go to the hospital?

If you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency, it’s a good time to call 911. If you believe that you or someone in your household might have the coronavirus, though, be sure to make that clear to the operator. Medical professionals and hospital staff can catch the virus too, and the last thing they want is to become a vector and pass the virus on to someone else already in care.

If you’re having mild symptoms, however, hospitals want you to stay home. More serious symptoms like strained breathing, chest pain, or life-threatening complications from an underlying illness might warrant a visit to the hospital, but it’s still a good idea to call first. Hospitals have enhanced protocol to handle potential coronavirus patients, like wearing masks and donning protective gear.

We will update these questions frequently. This was last updated on April 18, 2020


WIRED is providing free access to stories about public health and how to protect yourself during the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up for our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the latest updates, and subscribe to support our journalism.



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