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Specialists in protective suits disinfect Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Erhan Elaldi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus stays viable in the air for several hours and can last on surfaces from hours to days, depending on the material, according to a study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

What's new: Researchers said the virus that causes COVID-19 remains infectious in the air for up to three hours, on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

Background: The study compared the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, with the genetically close virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002–2003, or SARS-CoV-1.

  • SARS emerged from China, infecting more than 8,000 people in 2002 and 2003.
  • SARS-CoV-1 was "eradicated by intensive contact tracing and case isolation measures and no cases have been detected since 2004," according to a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases press release accompanying the study.
  • The researchers were from the NIAID, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA and Princeton University.

What they found: The two viruses "behaved similarly, which unfortunately fails to explain why COVID-19 has become a much larger outbreak," per NIAID.

  • The key difference between the two coronaviruses could be that people are spreading the disease before showing symptoms.
  • Plus, most COVID-19 infections are happening in the community rather than in the health care setting, where SARS was mostly reported. However, NIAID warned that with the virus' stability in air and on surfaces, health care settings are also vulnerable.

What's next: Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice on how to protect yourself and use these EPA-registered disinfectant products that work against SARS-CoV-2.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

7 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.