Handwashing study says SARS-CoV-2 can stay on skin up to 9 hours

Updated: Oct. 7, 2020 at 7:37 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - People are still getting infected with the coronavirus in Alabama and across the country. Health leaders have been advising for months there are three ways to protect yourself: face coverings, social distancing, and handwashing.

A new study out Wednesday shows just how important handwashing is.

The study was conducted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. It found the germ that causes the coronavirus, SARS-Cov-2 can stay on a person’s skin by as much as nine hours.

For seven months now, doctors have pushed handwashing as a major technique to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. The top Jefferson County infectious disease doctor said he didn’t find the study surprising.

“What I think drives home the point is whenever we are out and about, whenever we are outside of the house, it pushes the importance of washing your hands with an alcohol gel, hot water, soap,” Dr. Wesley Willeford said.

Dr. Willeford does believe people haven’t put as much of an importance on handwashing as the other two safety steps, possibly taking handwashing for granted and not as important as the others.

“Probably most of the attention has fallen to facial coverings to stop the spread of COVID-19, still the other measures we need to turn around back to them,” Willeford said.

Willeford said using an alcohol gel is the best way to wash your hands. You need to let it dry so it kills all of the germs. The county infectious disease doctor said this will not only stop COVID-19.

“Handwashing is beneficial for all sorts of diseases. Not just COVID-19, but even the flu as it was also evidenced in this article, it’s an effective way of stopping the spread as well,” Willeford said.

Willeford said the coronavirus is still mostly spread by people coughing or sneezing, but those droplets can land on surfaces and your skin. Bare that in mind and realize it could stay on your skin for nine hours.

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