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"The NEJM article detected the virus on plastic for up to 3 days. However, researchers in the Lancet study found that they could detect the virus on plastic for longer — up to 7 days."- Published in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this week, the new study is penned by researchers from various institutions, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Hamilton, MT), Princeton University (Princeton, NJ), University of California (Los Angeles, CA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, GA).

June 4, 2020 - Notes Abount Viability and Risk

Taken from:

A word of caution from ShelB Rindahl, "We can't trust alternate surfaces to be safer faster based on these few numbers. Instead, we must use CDC's position as the last word on the matter: "Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials." Trust me, the moment they can say with better confidence that we can trust shorter times on certain things, or that fomite transmission is truly as less likely as we hope it might be, they will do so. They do know how desperate we all are to shorten delays and reduce business impacts, and to navigate our fields with confidence. The burden is theirs." -ShelB Rindahl


As we all navigate through this time, we are finding lots of information and opinions on what we should be doing. Here we will try to offer up resources found to help you. I have contacted three medical professionals to gather suggestions specific to handling instruments.

First, be aware of the place and condition where the instruments are coming from. For instance, here in our local school district, no one has been in the band room or near the instruments since mid-March. So, in that case, these instruments have already been in "quarantine" for that length of time. If you are talking about an instrument from an individual, that has been playing on it recently, that is another situation all together.

Here are the suggestions received:

1) Your absolute best bet is to use soap and water first. The reason they say wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap is because soap and water can destroy the viral envelope leaving the virus vulnerable and unstable. So, anything that can be washed with soap and water start there.

2) Next - 70% (or greater) isopropyl alcohol is a good sterilizing agent. For instruments, it is suggested taking alcohol on a swab and snake through the instrument.

Several studies were consulted on the length of time the virus can last on surfaces; wood only lasts a few hours; copper is about 4 hours and all other metals and plastics are 2-3 days. Please see latest updates. It is advised to tend to be a little more cautious with horns if they have water keys. But once they have been cleaned and repaired, by time they are shipped them back, there would be an extremely minimal and unlikely chance for any virus to remain.

Alternatively, if the customer is adamant about wanting more extreme cleaning, a 1% bleach solution in water following by washing with soap and water to prevent any sort of pits from forming in the metal. This would be extreme and probably unnecessary but its personal comfort level.

As we as repair technicians have the most experience with the effects of solutions on surfaces such as lacquer, it may be a good practice to test a spot if you might be concerned of harm. Remember using alcohol must be done carefully on plastic instruments as the alcohol can melt some plastics.

Regarding isopropyl alcohol, you could also pour liquid through into an instrument or even dip them if you have that kind of volume but also please understand the safety considerations, as isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable and vapors may form explosive mixtures with air:

Here's another link to good information on isopropyl alcohol:

Good information on bleach:

In addition to all of this, please consider your personal Protection Equipment, PPE. Goggles, face shield, solvent resistant gloves, aprons and shoes recommended. Here is SDS information on isopropyl alcohol and bleach:

I would like to thank my friends in the medical field who helped me put this together:
    Dr. Watkins, Dr. Pliura, Ms. Barron, RN

This statement was written in good faith with the facts available at the time. SARS-CoV2 is an emerging disease, with ever developing details. Follow the CDC for the latest information.

Here's more info on these basic steps from the CDC:

Business Resources:

US Small Business Administration

National Association of Music Merchants NAMM)
    dCovid-19 Instrument Cleaning Guidelines

Cleaning information:
   Wind Ensemble Infectious Disease Risks
   Clean Before Sterilization (Disinfection)

I have heard discussion about the use of ultraviolet in cleaning. Here's a link to the International Ultraviolet Association

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