Americans for Common Cents (ACC) conducts research and provides information to Congress and the Executive Branch on the value and benefits of the penny.

April 24, 2020

Coins are Not a Greater Transmitter of Viruses and Bacteria than Other Surfaces

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that banknotes and coins have no more chance of transmitting COVID-19 than many other surfaces one encounters. See:

As for the penny, copper is antimicrobial. It kills bacteria and viruses. History has shown the metal’s usefulness during other pandemics. In 1852, a French physician Victor Burq found that people who worked with copper or the copper industry during multiple Cholera outbreaks had better survival numbers. Another study from 1983 showed hospital knobs made of brass (a copper alloy) had almost no E. Coli growth, compared to stainless steel. These findings have implications for the use of copper and contamination susceptibility in public transit, restaurants, health care facilities and other public venues.

Our fears resulting from this pandemic should not cause us to overlook the benefits of copper and the mighty penny. Consumers should have the option to continue using cash, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.