Paying to stop the pandemic. How long can a virus be dangerous?

Paying to stop the pandemic. How long can a virus be dangerous?
The struggle to save lives and the economy is likely to present agonizing choices. Planet earth is shutting down. In the struggle to get a grip on covid-19, one country after another is demanding that its citizens shun society. As that sends economies reeling, desperate governments are trying to tide over companies and consumers by handing out trillions of dollars in aid and loan guarantees. Nobody can be sure how well these rescues will work.

But there is worse. Troubling new findings suggest that stopping the pandemic might require repeated shutdowns. And yet it is also now clear that such a strategy would condemn the world economy to the grave—perhaps intolerable—harm. Some very hard choices lie ahead.
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A new study shows that SARS-CoV-2 can linger in the air for hours and on some materials for days. At a time when many people have taken to washing hands and sanitizing the objects they hold dear—frequently—a pesky question has loomed. How long does the SARS-CoV-2 virus stick around? A new paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the first to examine the lifespan of the virus on common surfaces, offers some answers.

Like the common cold, covid-19 spreads through virus-laden droplets of moisture released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or merely exhales. A team of researchers, including scientists from America’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, simulated how an infected individual might spread the virus in the air and on plastic, cardboard, stainless steel and copper. They then measured how long the virus remained infectious in those environments.

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