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Wellness & CareHealth News › ‘Can the Coronavirus Live on Your Shoes? Here’s What Experts Say About New Evidence’
April 23, 2020

‘Can the Coronavirus Live on Your Shoes? Here’s What Experts Say About New Evidence’


We’ve known that the virus that leads to COVID-19 can live on numerous surfaces for a while: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus will remain viable on plastic surfaces and stainless steel for up to 3 days, and on other surfaces like cardboard for up to 24 hours. And officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidelines for cleaning clothes during the pandemic, despite being unable to confirm how long SARS-CoV-2 remains on fabrics, as well as urging people to wash and dry any face coverings they wear in public to avoid germ exposure. But there’s one gray area that isn’t so clear — what about the shoes we wear outside?

A new study using data collected from a hospital in Wuhan, China suggests that the virus that leads to COVID-19 can collect on the shoes of medical workers — in fact, nearly half of the medical workers surveyed had the virus on their shoes. Published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in April and shared by the CDC, the report was based on swab samples collected between February 19 and March 2 from contaminated objects in hospital wards.

Researchers did conclude that the soles of shoes, in particular, could function as carriers of the disease in a hospital setting, recommending that doctors and other healthcare professionals disinfect their shoes’ soles before walking into other wards. “In conducting these tests, [researchers] weren’t expecting it on the ground,” says Sandra Kesh, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at Westmed Medical Group in New York’s Tri-State region. “When they swabbed the soles of the shoes, [nearly] half of those samples tested positive, and [researchers] ended up thinking that the medical workers are the ones trekking it around floors… They then started suggesting shoe coverings in hospitals for those who need to walk around.”

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