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I'm a Doctor and Would Never Touch This During COVID

Although catching coronavirus through contact with surfaces is uncommon, you should still beware.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been discussion that the COVID-19 virus lives on surfaces for extended periods of time. This certainly drove the sales of hand sanitizer up at the beginning of the pandemic. As we have progressed, there are still people wearing gloves when they enter a public place out of fear of contracting the virus from surfaces. This is probably not as helpful as face masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but viruses do live on surfaces. Although the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 has been found to be less frequent through contact with surfaces, there are still some surfaces that are concerning for the health of the public. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


Door Handles

hand opening cafe doors

As any surface that comes in contact with many different people certainly has a high risk for transmission of any disease, including COVID-19. Door handles are known to be a very common surfaces where people contract the influenza virus. It is good practice to wash your hands, or at least sanitize with an alcohol-based solution, after entering or exiting a public place.



woman wearing a hygiene protective mask to protect her self from coronavirus disease

Although masks are very helpful in minimizing the transmission of COVID-19, touching the mask with your hands can be detrimental. If you touch the mask, the oils and debris within your hands can actually damage the mask and reduce the effectiveness of the mask. There is also the possibility of viral particles still living on the surface of the mask. If you touch these particles they can get transferred to your hands and then possibly to your nose or eyes. This is why it is recommended that you wear your mask and only take it off when you are able to wash your hands. 


Plexiglass Separators

Empty tables outside a restaurant. Plastic, plexiglass screens on for customer separation.

It is difficult to order a sandwich or pick up a coffee at a neighborhood cafe without being confronted with plexiglass barriers. Thought to be very helpful in minimizing the community spread of COVID-19, they have become almost omnipresent. These barriers stop the particles from transferring from one person to another. The virus therefore can be found on the surface of the plexiglass. These separators should be washed often, and handwashing must occur after coming in contact with them. 

RELATED: If You Feel This You May Have Already Had COVID Says Dr. Fauci


Remotes in Hotel Rooms

Tired business woman watching tv in hotel room

Hotel rooms have been a point of concern for infection control long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the hotel room, the remote control is one of the most common sources of contamination.  Although the risk is low for COVID-19 transmission, the likelihood of contact with other viruses and bacteria from previous guests makes the remote control an item that needs to be disinfected before it is used.


Straws From Other People Drinks

Women share fruit cocktail

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 is much higher when in contact with the oral secretions of an individual who has the disease.  Straws and drinks have a high concentration of these secretions within them. It is a good recommendation to never share straws or glasses with others, but it especially not advised during a pandemic.  As with many other items on this list, it is necessary to wash your hands after coming in contact with straws and drinks of others.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get Back to Normal


Discarded Napkins or Tissues

A hand holds a dirty used napkin on a yellow background.

During cold and flu season it is very common to use nasal tissues, and napkins to clear the nasal congestion. It is good practice to throw the tissue away and wash your hands immediately afterward in order to reduce contamination. If you happen to pick up tissue or napkin that may have been used for this purpose, especially for someone else, it is imperative to clean your hands as soon as possible. 

Although COVID-19 is more likely to be transmitted from person to person rather than through contact with surfaces, it is still important to be vigilant. Hand hygiene is a very important step in reducing the likelihood of transmission of any virus or bacteria, even COVID-19. Do not touch your face, especially your mouth, nose, or eyes, after touching a possibly contaminated surface. This is good practice even when not in the midst of a pandemic, but has obviously been highlighted given the current events.


The Final Word From the Doctor

woman put on a fabric handmade mask on her face

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Kenneth Perry, MD FACEP
Dr. Perry is an active practicing physician and Medical Director of an Emergency Department in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more about Kenneth