This article is only an analysis of the available information regarding the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and does not substitute for medical advice from a doctor. If you have any questions, please contact your medical provider or review information presented by the official medical organization(s) available in your area.
The short answer is “potentially yes,” on circulating coins and currency. Chances are, your personal collections of coins and paper money are safe, provided you are not touching them with unwashed hands after immediately coming back home from a concert (if large gatherings are still being held near you). However, circulating coins and banknotes are a different story.
According to a March 6, 2020, article on Snopes:
Given coronavirus’ recent discovery, no scientific studies have yet addressed if it can spread specifically on banknotes or coins. The new coronavirus, like other viruses in that family, causes respiratory infections in humans. To do so, however, the virus needs to enter the body via the mouth or nose. That means any potential transmission involving money necessarily includes touching your face after touching a contaminated bill or coin.
In general, coronaviruses can remain infectious on surfaces exposed to the elements for several days. A recent review of 22 scientific studies showed that “human coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus or endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV) can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days.” Few studies exist on the survival of coronaviruses on paper or other potential banknote material, but a 2003 study conducted on a strain of SARS found infectious coronavirus for up to 72 hours on “press paper” and 96 hours on “cloth.” Based on structural similarities among coronaviruses, it is a reasonable conclusion that this would hold true for the new coronavirus as well.
The World Health Organization (WHO) generally recommends that people always wash their hands after handling coins and currency, regardless of any ongoing disease outbreaks. As such, this advice still holds true during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before touching your face or eating after handling coins or paper money.
From all of us here at Coin Update, we wish our readers the best. Stay safe, and stay informed.
For more information about coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the website of the CDC.
To read the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, please click here.