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Risk of getting COVID-19 from surfaces “fairly low” according to Siouxland doctor

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Sioux City (KTIV) - As Siouxland and the world battle COVID-19, viewers continue to share questions with us which we ask medical professionals from around Siouxland.

Q: What is the number of COVID-19 patients your hospital can handle safely? Have you transferred patients out of town for care?

Dr. Kafka: Well first thing we keep in mind is making sure we're maintaining safety and quality of care for our patients and for our staff. As an example, we doubled our emergency room in preparation for the surge that we had toward the end of April. And also increased our intensive care capabilities from an 18 bed unit to a 30 bed unit. We came close to filling that at one point in time. We did have up to 45 patients at different stages of care ranging from intensive care to normal medical level of care. We've recently had patients being discharged so we're down in our numbers and are capable now to hopefully help neighboring communities that have a surge in their care. A couple weeks ago we transferred 4 patients out as we realized we needed to increase our intensive care capacity and we were able to expand that and accommodate the final surge we had.

Q: What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface? And how long can the virus live on a surface?

Dr. Kafka: The risk of getting something by having contact with a surface with a virus and then touching your face and inoculating yourself is fairly small. The major way this disease is spread is through a respiratory route where people inhale droplets with virus particles from a person who's actively infected. It's believed the virus can survive on a normal surface up to 5 days. With more solid surfaces like ceramic or glass, up to 5 days. Cardboard, 24 hours. Things like stainless steel and plastic, 2-3 days. Other metals for shorter periods of time. It may be there but it takes a large inoculum to contaminate yourself to be infected through that route.

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