[This article was written by Ashley Lipman.]
Ever since stay-at-home orders have been issued, our routines have drastically changed. Instead of going to restaurants and malls, we have to limit our grocery trips, order takeout, and shop online.
Even if you don’t have guests over, are you unknowingly inviting the coronavirus into your home? Many are asking the potential risk of contracting the virus through deliveries, so we consulted with the experts. Here’s what we know about its transmission, and how you can safely handle packages during the pandemic.
How Safe Is It?
There are no documented incidents of COVID-19 being transmitted through mail or package delivery. While it’s known to survive on surfaces for short periods of time, the CDC states that “it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.”
It’s important to note that this is data collected from different coronaviruses – the family of viruses that includes the one that causes COVID-19. Here’s a quick reference to common surfaces, on how long the virus can survive on each one:
- Metal: 5 days
- Aluminum: between 2 to 8 hours
- Plastic: between 2 to 3 days
- Cardboard: 24 hours
- Wood: 4 days
- Ceramic: 5 days
- Glass: up to 5 days
There’s insufficient evidence on whether it can spread through items such as water, food, and fabric. When it comes to receiving deliveries, the primary focus is the cardboard shipping and limiting contact with the worker handling your order as this poses a low risk.
However, there’s still a possible factor in transmission. As a precaution, it’s best to take additional steps. Keep infection rate to the minimum by disinfecting surfaces, minimizing contact by properly disposing of the shipping materials, and washing your hands afterward.
Delivery Service Company Procedures
Companies like Amazon are granting workers approximately two weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or in quarantine. On top of curbside pickup and online orders, many companies are offering contactless alternatives to practice social distancing.
For instance, the United States Postal Service (UPS) has suspended the need for customer signatures upon delivery. Courier services are also offering contactless options and encourage mobile payments to avoid contacting drivers.
However, these standards are not foolproof. Employees in the delivery industry and beyond are required to seek immediate medical treatment if they are sick, but there’s no guarantee. There’s the risk of asymptomatic carriers, as well as reports of employees working while ill in fear of losing their jobs.
What Can You Do to Flatten the Curve
As a Business
In addition to implementing safe practices and policies in the workplace, companies can adjust business practices to protect customers. Invest in packaging through Deepking and other custom label companies that offer materials that are easy to disinfect during shipment.
Update your products, website, and policies to inform employees and customers about safety procedures. You can also offer options for recipients to customize their delivery instructions and payment methods to promote zero contact deliveries.
As a Recipient
When receiving deliveries and curbside pickups, you’re responsible for how you handle your packages. Here are a few things you can do to keep you and your household safe from any possible transmission.
When ordering takeout, it’s recommended to transfer the food to your own plate or container. Then you can discard the package and thoroughly wash your hands before eating.
If possible, packages should be opened and discarded outside, and the contents should be disinfected with an alcohol-based spray or wipes before taking it inside. Make sure to consider all the frequently touched areas and wash your hands when you enter your home. If your hands are sore or dry from excessive washing, add a hand moisturizer to your hygiene routine.
While there’s no solid evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from packages into your home, it’s better to be safe than sorry. That’s why it’s more important than ever on your part to flatten the curve. Keep yourself healthy by handling and disposing of packages the correct way and practice good hygiene before and after receiving delivery.
Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing knowledge to readers worldwide on topics closest to her heart – all things digital. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches touching the digital sphere.