Now that we’re all “sheltering in place” and doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many people are relying on deliveries for essential items (groceries, toiletries, prescriptions) and using delivery services to support their favorite local businesses (restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries). Using these convenient shopping options is a great way to limit your contact with other people. However, you might be wondering, “How long does coronavirus last on packages and deliveries?” There are a few simple precautions you should take every time you introduce new items into your home during this troubling time.
How Long Does Coronavirus Last on Packages and Deliveries?
Especially if you’ve been doing a lot of online shopping or ordering delivery from your favorite local restaurants, you might be wondering, “How long does coronavirus last on cardboard boxes or delivery bags?”
According to infectious disease specialists, coronaviruses are thought to mainly spread from person to person via respiratory droplets, and it’s highly unlikely the virus could survive for days outside or inside a cardboard box. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the disease COVID-19, could survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard, and the amount of virus decreased rapidly over time. And according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is very unlikely that coronavirus will survive on a package shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. So even if coronavirus makes it into or onto your package, it’s unlikely to survive the journey to your door.
Of course, there’s still a risk presented by the mail carrier or delivery person. What if that person is sick and their respiratory droplets find their way onto your package? Some postal workers say they’re being pressured to work despite having symptoms of COVID-19 (source). Other workers may continue to work while sick because they need the paycheck to keep their family afloat. These hard-working people present the biggest safety risk in regard to deliveries because they’re touching the packages right before dropping them off.
So packages and deliveries do present a small risk of transmitting COVID-19, but that risk is generally quite small. So long as you practice good hygiene habits, you’ll be safe from coronavirus, even if you frequently get packages delivered to your home.
How to Prepare for a Germ-Free Delivery
Before your delivery arrives, before you even place the order in fact, there are a few things you can do to ensure that no germs are traded during the transaction.
First, consolidate your online orders when possible to minimize the number of packages and delivery bags arriving at your doorstep. When buying groceries or home goods, try to think of everything you’ll need to purchase for the next two weeks or so, instead of placing an order every time you realize you’re missing something. Or if you’re ordering a meal, find an eatery that everyone in your family can agree on instead of placing multiple orders with separate restaurants.
Second, choose the “contactless delivery” option if it’s available. The delivery person will leave the package at your front door, ring the doorbell, and then depart. By limiting your contact with the delivery person, you can lower the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. Both UPS and FedEx have stopped requiring in-person signatures for most deliveries during this time.
Finally, tip using the delivery app or website when possible. By limiting your use of cash, you can limit the exchange of germs. If the ordering system doesn’t allow for a tip, leave your tip in a safe place outside your door where the delivery person will see it (perhaps with a friendly note of explanation).
How to Safely Retrieve Packages and Deliveries
When a package or food delivery arrives at your home, follow these steps to protect yourself and your family:
- Consider leaving the package in your garage for a day if possible. This typically isn’t necessary, but some infectious disease experts recommend it (source).
- Empty the package outside. Don’t bring it into your home at all. Remove the contents with the hand you didn’t use to open the box if possible (or have a family member grab the contents).
- Recycle or throw away the packaging ASAP. Ideally, you will do this outside your home.
- Avoid touching your face throughout the entire process. In addition, avoid touching any other items or people.
- Wash your hands immediately afterward using soap and warm water. Scrub for 20 seconds, making sure you clean every bit of each hand.
- Finally, disinfect any surfaces you touched between step 1 and step 5. For example, did you touch the doorknob? Use a box cutter to open the package? Use the faucet to turn on the water? All of those surfaces should be disinfected.
This may sound a little extreme and for most packages, it isn’t necessary. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Shopping online and ordering food for delivery are great ways to stay home and stay safe. So long as you’re diligent about handling packages carefully and washing your hands afterward, you shouldn’t have to worry about welcoming SARS-CoV-2 into your home.
During this difficult, uncertain time, remember to turn to your favorite SafeSpace products for help. The SafeSpace Company is a family-owned small business proudly selling American-made disinfectant products to keep your family safe and healthy. For more information about SafeSpace, contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-735-2506.
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