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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

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.