Dr. Gee shares information on how the the virus works

The Fremont County Incident Management Team has shared an informational brief by Dr. Brian Gee the Fremont County Health Officer.


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How This Virus Works:

We have shared lots of information about what you can do to keep yourself and the community safe (see the Fremont County Public Health Page). As you continue to physical distance, self-isolate, or quarantine, here is some useful information about the virus itself.

  • Coronavirus is not a living organism. It is a packet of genetic material covered by proteins and a protective layer of lipids (fat). When absorbed by the cells of the eyelid, nose or mouth mucous membranes the virus gains entry into the human body. The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.
  • Since the virus is not a living organism, it cannot be “killed,” but it decays on its own and can be broken down with some chemicals. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
  • Current evidence suggests that the virus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cool and moist conditions allow the virus to remain stable longer. Studies are still being done.

Current understanding of how long the virus can last:

  • 4 hours (copper and wood)
  • 24 hours (cardboard)
  • 42 hours (metal)
  • 72 hours (plastic)
  • reports have indicated virus particles may remain active on protected surfaces in cruise- ships up to 17 days

How does this knowledge help us?

  • The virus is fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why using soap or detergent is the best prevention. The soapy foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam. Keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there). By dissolving the fat layer, the virus breaks down and becomes ineffective.
  • Heat melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 77 degrees Fahrenheit for washing hands. Washing contaminated clothes on the hottest washer setting is best. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful. Alcohol containing products (greater than 70% alcohol for wipes or sprays to use on surfaces, greater than 60% alcohol for hand sanitizers) dissolve the fatty layer protecting the virus.
  • Dilute bleach mixtures dissolve the virus’ protein layer. Bleach solutions are meant for disinfecting surfaces and not your hands. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser as dangerous gases can be lethal.
    • Bleach solutions can be prepared as follows:
      • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
      • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Vinegar is NOT useful against the virus because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.
  • Alcohol sold for drinking like spirits and vodka DO NOT WORK against the virus. The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 70% to clean for hard surfaces.
  • BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTICS DO NOT WORK against COVID-19. These are meant to work against living things called bacteria. The virus is not a bacteria so these will not work against it.
  • Inactivation of virus may be accelerated by ultraviolet exposure in sunlight

Don’t forget about their two websites: Q&AThe Hub. Another reminder is you can view all the updates from the Fremont County Incident Management Team and Dr. Gee by clicking here.

h/t Era Aranow for the featured photo of Dr. Gee

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