If a person infected with the coronavirus sneezes, coughs or talks loudly, droplets containing particles of the virus can travel through the air and eventually land on nearby surfaces. But the risk of getting infected from touching a surface contaminated by the virus is low, says Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University.

“In hospitals, surfaces have been tested near COVID-19 patients, and no infectious virus can be identified,” Goldman says.

What’s found is viral RNA, which is like “the corpse of the virus,” he says. That’s what’s left over after the virus dies.

“They don’t find infectious virus, and that’s because the virus is very fragile in the environment — it decays very quickly,” Goldman says.