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Dr. Cheung to Speak at Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease Conference August 2020



The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease is holding a free virtual conference focused on Recognizing & Mitigating Legionnaires’ Disease Risks During & After the COVID-19 Pandemic. There will be extremely informative sessions centered on how the COVID pandemic has impacted Legionnaires’ disease prevention and risk. He’ll be discussing The epidemiology, clinical aspects and coinfections related to COVID-19 and Legionella, so don’t miss it!

This free event will run August 19-20, 9AM-1:30PM each day.

Register Today:


COVID-19: How Long Can the Virus Survive on Surfaces?


Credit: Fusion Animation


Hung Cheung, MD, MPH, FACOEM – Environmental Epidemiology, Toxicology, Public Health

COVID-19: How Long Can the Virus Survive on Surfaces[1]?

Research is being conducted to figure out just how long, and under what conditions, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19 infection) is able to survive on different surfaces.  Understanding how long the virus can live on surfaces can give great insight into transmission of the virus as well as how to adequately disinfect surfaces to decrease spread of the virus.

We know from previous research published in the New England Journal of Medicine that SARS-CoV-2 is viable in the air and on surfaces between several hours and several days. A more recent study published in the Lancet reported on the stability of the virus in different environmental conditions, on different surfaces and what happens to the virus when exposed to disinfectant use.

The researchers looked at the virus’ stability at cold and hot temperatures on the same surface. The virus appeared to be stable at colder temperatures and  remained viable after 14 days at 4°C  or approximately 40°F. However, when heated to 70°C, approximately 158°F,  the virus was inactivated within 5 minutes.

The stability of the virus on different surfaces including paper, tissue, wood, cloth, glass, banknote, stainless steel, plastic and the inner and outer layers of masks was studied and showed:

  • No infectious virus was found on printing and tissue papers after 3-hours,
  • No infectious virus could be detected from treated wood and cloth on day 2
  • No infectious virus could be detected on smooth surfaces on day 4 (glass and banknote) or day 7 (stainless steel and plastic).
  • A detectable level of infectious virus could still be present on the outer layer of a surgical mask on day 7. The recovery from the face mask on day 7 was very small. The question as to whether infection risk is possible is being debated. [Note: Virus survival on the face mask may be very different when worn due to many factors including moisture and warm temperature from the act of breathing.] With the growing need for mask use and support for the use of facemasks outside of healthcare, further studies about the implications of this finding are necessary.

Knowing that the virus can live on certain surfaces begs the question: what can we do  to prevent the spread?  We know from this research that the virus is very sensitive to heat and the proper use of many different disinfection products. Proper use includes concentration, application, and most importantly, contact time. These vary by disinfectant, so it is important to read the manufacturers recommendations as well as the EPA Products with Emerging Viral Pathogens AND Human Coronavirus claims for use against SARS-CoV-2. Contact time is the period of time the disinfectant solution remains wet on the surface. When cleaning, special focus should be paid to high touch areas or shared equipment/ supplies.  This means more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces that people regularly come in contact with, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, shared clipboards, shared office phones (at reception or security, etc.), handrails, shared pens, or faucets, etc. But what about different surface types? What about upholstered furniture and clothing? What is the correct disinfection procedure for my surface, situation and organization?

There are significant gaps in our knowledge of this novel and rapidly mutating Corona virus. The situation is fluid and evolving during this world-wide outbreak. Cogency will strive to stay on top of this situation to keep you informed. For more information about this Corona virus outbreak and how to characterize your risk and reduce risk to those you are charged to protect, contact the experts at Cogency at

Please stay tuned to the announcement of Cogency’s next webinar: COVID-19 for businesses 301, that will address many important issues including:

  • Why do we need a staged COVID-19 exit strategy?
  • Will it take 2 years before we get back to pre-COVID-19 baseline?
  • Will there be a second wave and a third wave?
  • What might affect their occurrence or the intensity of the peaks?
  • How will that affect my business?
  • Should I be thinking about regarding interim steps?

[1] NOTE: In general, virus survival also appears to depend on the viral load (inoculum) and whether it was protected, e.g., within biofilm or soil, etc., from the external harsh environment. Survival in a controlled laboratory situation is very different from virus laden phlegm from a cough or nasal discharges from a sneeze that land on various surfaces. The inoculum and biofilm protecting the virus from the environment will affect its ultimate survival length, which may be significantly different from lab situations.


Coronavirus v. Flu: Facts, Fiction and Misconceptions

Coronavirus v. Flu: Facts, Fiction and Misconceptions

Late in 2019 we saw the immergence of a new respiratory coronavirus, now labeled Covid-19 (coronavirus). The new virus has been making headlines since the first reports of the outbreak that has been traced to Wuhan, China. The virus has sparked concerns over a worldwide outbreak, or pandemic. These concerns come right at the peak season for another virus, influenza, or the season flu.

  • How do these two viruses compare?
  • Where should we really direct our concern and resources?
  • What are current prevention methods?

The new coronavirus has been responsible for 2,462 deaths and over 78,811 cases worldwide, since its initial detection at the end of 2019. The CDC has confirmed only 14 cases of coronavirus and no deaths in the United States. The CDC estimates that this year’s flu season, officially beginning October 1, 2019, has been responsible for over 22 million cases of seasonal flu, and up to 30,000 deaths in the United States alone.  That is a huge difference!

To become infected with the coronavirus, scientists believe one must be in close contact (within 6 feet) with another infected person. At this time in the US, this will likely mean that an individual has either been to the regions of outbreak in China or has been in close contact with someone who has recently been in outbreak regions of China.  Currently the risk of contracting coronavirus is low within the United States. The virus is spread mainly though droplets from a cough or a sneeze, but it can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. The seasonal flu is spread in pretty much the same way. But there is one MAJOR difference. Significantly more people in the United States currently have the flu and are able to spread it to others. This means the risk of contracting the flu in the US is magnitudes higher than contracting coronavirus.

Fortunately, the same methods are used in the prevention of both influenza and coronavirus. They are as follows:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand-sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are presenting symptoms of illness, and if you are the one with symptoms, STAY HOME.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched items.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue and dispose of it in a garbage, or sneeze or cough into your elbow. Make sure to clean your hands afterwards.

In addition to the prevention methods above, people who have not already gotten their flu shot should get one ASAP.

The transmission rate for the new coronavirus is still unconfirmed, however it is estimated that an infected individual will infect 1.5 to 3.5 new individuals with coronavirus, as compared to 1.3 new individuals for the 2019/2020 seasonal flu. However, we expect to see a lower transmission rate for flu in the US due to vaccination rates, so again, get your flu shot. The mortality rate for the new coronavirus is estimated to be 3% though this is expected to decrease. A key reason is that in the early stages of an outbreak, especially when symptoms are common with other illnesses, only severe cases are detected. Once the illness becomes more widely known and more efficient diagnostic testing becomes more widely available, milder or asymptomatic cases will also be identified. Clinically, milder cases generally have more positive outcomes and fewer deaths so mortality rate declines. Some excess mortality may also be related to availability of sophisticated healthcare along with appropriate and timely treatment. The 2019/2020 flu season has a current mortality rate of around 0.1%, however we are still in the midst of the flu season.

Some of the key take-away’s from the information currently available for the United States is as follows:

  • At this time, people in the United States should continue to be more concerned about the influenza virus.
  • The prevention methods are the same and mainly involve good hygiene practices.
  • Significantly more people have suffered from and died from the flu this year in the US than from coronavirus worldwide.

There is still much to be learned about the coronavirus and all outbreaks should be handled with diligence. The World Health Organization has now sent a team to China to assist with outbreak investigation and pandemic prevention. Current travel bans and mandatory quarantines act as very robust, but temporary barriers to the spread of coronavirus to the United States.  We will keep you updated on new coronavirus developments as well as further recommendations as the outbreak progresses and management strategies shift.  Until then it is important to continue practicing good hygiene and monitoring your health during this very active flu season.





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