To test how well SARS-CoV-2 can live in the air, researchers use special equipment to create aerosolized virus and keep it airborne for long periods of time. Researchers can then take samples of the virus and see how long it stays alive in an aerosol. An early study from researchers at the National Institute of Health kept the virus airborne for four hours and found live virus the whole time. A subsequent pre-print study that I was part of found that the coronavirus can stay alive for up to 16 hours in the air.
People are getting sick from coronavirus spreading through the air – and that’s a big challenge for reopening
Coughing, sneezing, talking and even just breathing can produce airborne particles that can spread SARS-CoV-2. Stanislaw Pytel/Digital Vision via Getty Images