A new study reveals how long the COVID-19 virus can survive on a variety of common materials.
The research, conducted by U.S. government scientists from multiple organizations as well as UCLA and Princeton, looked at four likely materials: Air, as that's what transmits droplets from coughing or sneezing; copper, which is prized for its antibacterial properties; cardboard, as that's what most things delivered to our homes arrive in; plastic, as it's a common surface that's easy to clean; and stainless steel, also a common surface that's easy to clean.
I would not have guessed the virus would live longest on plastic and steel. Then again, the benefit of those materials is that they're generally easy to clean, at least when they're more or less planar, as in the surfaces of dispensers or countertops. As long as those surfaces are regularly disinfected, I'd be less wary of touching them than a polypropylene bottle cap freshly stocked (i.e. handled) on a store shelf.
The research was funded by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH); the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP, RC-2635) of the U.S. Department of Defense.
You can download a PDF of the full study (which, it should be noted, has not yet been peer-reviewed) here [PDF].