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Coronavirus and Cash: There is no reason to be concerned

Rumors are swirling and panic is rising in the U.S. regarding COVID-19, the pandemic whose symptoms resemble the flu. The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets. Sneezing, coughing and spitting by an infected person can result in the spread of the virus to others.

With sporting events, trade shows, museums and even Broadway closing to the public, it’s understandable fear would be on the rise.

Unfortunately, the rise in fear around the world has led to loads of false information spreading faster than the actual virus. From the hilarious such as Google’s “beer virus” searches to the outlandish like the SNL skit leading to social media rumors, the variety of false claims about this particular coronavirus seems to have hit every industry.

The ATM industry is no exception. Sensational media reports have many fearing the use of cash.

The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) released an official statement March 12, 2020 to clear up the vast misconceptions surrounding the use of cash and contracting COVID-19.

As ATMIA CEO Mike Lee pointed out, “Since people don’t usually sneeze or cough into their banknotes, and since we all touch dozens of surfaces every day, it is disingenuous to single out cash as a medium of transmission of the virus. Handling cards, mobile devices and touching keypads in public places, not to mention countless other surfaces, can carry an equal risk. What is important is frequent hand sanitising to kill off any viral droplets given that the virus has a fragile envelope surrounding it which can be readily destroyed through disinfectants.”

Medical professionals agree. The Wall Street Journal recently quoted Emily Martin, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, “I wouldn’t expect coronavirus to travel far and wide on money.”

In fact, studies show that virus pathogens such as the coronavirus transmit better on hard surfaces such as plastic credit or debit cards versus non-smooth cotton/linen surfaces such as those found on U.S. bank notes.

The bottom line? There is no higher risk of contracting COVID-19 by touching cash than walking into an office building and touching the doorknob or any of the thousands of actions most people take daily.

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