President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said “the greatest thing to fear is fear itself!”. These words are just as poignant today as they were in 1933. One way to overcome our fears of illness is to demystify the virus and know how to prevent its spread.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine researched the length of time it takes for COVID-19 to naturally break down on different surfaces. Even if traces of COVID-19 remain on a surface it does not mean that you are certain to catch the virus. The longer a virus sits out the weaker it gets and eventually breaks down entirely. Factors that help to break down a virus include light, heat and dryness. This may be why illnesses like the flu are less common in the heat of summer.

Guidelines from the Study

Porous surfaces take moisture away from the virus. Without moisture the virus dies faster. This is why cardboard will only harbor the virus for 1 day compared to 5 days for glass and metal. In fact, paper and cardboard are found to be some of the “safest” storage materials. The likelihood of being exposed to a virus through mail or packages is quite small, though it is still recommended to handle them with gloves just in case.

It is difficult to get an accurate decay rate of the virus on fabric. If you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19 and have followed the social distancing guidelines your clothes are not at great risk for carrying illness. In general, it is good practice to wash the things that you wear in public often, like your favorite sweater. If you need to leave the house regularly, consider designating a pair of shoes for “going out”. Leave your “going out shoes” in your car or just inside your back door. Change into a fresh pair of shoes as soon as you get home.

Source of Hope

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

Knowledge helps us to master our situation and conquer fear. Another remedy for fear is hope and trust. No one faces illness, difficulty or suffering alone. We have a Savior who was willing to suffer with us and He is at our side. If we follow the guidelines of social distancing and frequent disinfecting while trusting that God’s will be done, no fear can overcome us.

On March 27, 2020 Pope Francis addressed the world and the fears that people have in facing the coronavirus crisis. His words of comfort and wisdom can encourage us: “By His cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.” – Urbi et Orbi address, 3/27/2020