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Slim chance of catching the virus from cash

Given the relatively low number of people with the coronavirus in the United States so far — especially compared to a place like China — your chance of being infected after handling cash is probably low, Foxman says.

China’s central bank has been busy disinfecting and doing away with cash that could carry the virus. But that’s not a concern at this point for the Federal Reserve.

“The Federal Reserve is in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure we are aware of the latest thinking on how COVID-19 spreads,” a spokesperson from the Fed says. “Currently, the CDC has determined that COVID-19 spreads mainly through person-to-person contact.”

The only adjustment Reserve banks have made so far in response to the coronavirus pandemic is extending the period of holding deposits shipped from Asia before processing them. If government health authorities deem any other places as risky, “the Fed is prepared to implement additional modified procedures,” its spokesperson added.

Despite what was reportedly misunderstood in an article recently published in the U.K., the World Health Organization has not issued any warnings about the possibility of spreading the coronavirus through the use of cash.

While cash is no longer the No. 1 payment choice among American consumers, it’s used in more than one in four transactions. Avoiding cash for some groups, such as low-income households, may be just as unfeasible as avoiding touching a door handle. What’s more, for anyone concerned about catching the coronavirus, the best prevention method is perhaps just washing your hands, particularly before eating or touching your face, Foxman says.