How Risky Is That Box? Here's What Experts Are Saying About Packages During Coronavirus

April 07, 2020 - 3:35 pm

If you’re nervous that you’ll contract the coronavirus from an egg carton, an Amazon box or a bill in the mail, you’re not alone.

But health experts say the risk is very low when it comes to becoming infected with COVID-19 by touching a package or something you picked up at the store.

While the virus can be detected on hard surfaces for hours or days, depending upon the material, WWJ's Dr. Deanna Lites reports that doesn't mean it stays potent for that length of time.

Dr. Rena Daiza, MD, a Family Medicine expert with Henry Ford Hospital, says it's a good idea to be careful, but don't be afraid to get the mail.

"It's just taking those standard precautions," Daiza said. "So remember, it's a respiratory virus, so you would have to get in contact with the virus with your hands, for example, after touching a surface. and then touch your face."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says "there is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19."

Regardless, Dr. Daiza said it's a good idea to use disinfecting wipes, such as Clorox wipes, to clean boxes, as well as cans and bottles you bring home from the grocery store. Then don't touch your face, and wash your hands. 

"So just being mindful, again," Daiza added. "Just being cautious, but not anxious."

Need more tips? The CDC recommends the following:

Shopping for food and other household essentials

—Avoid shopping if you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
—If possible, order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup.
—Only visit the grocery store, or other stores selling household essentials, in person when you absolutely need to.
—This will limit your potential exposure to others and the virus that causes COVID-19.
—When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).

Here are ways to protect yourself while shopping

—Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.
—Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
—If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
—Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.Cover coughs and sneezes.
—Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.
—After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
—At home, follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill.

Accepting deliveries and takeout orders

—If possible, pay online or on the phone when you order.
—Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction.
—Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.
—After receiving your delivery or bringing home your takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
—After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Get more information, including on how to protect yourself and your family while slowing the spread of the virus, from the CDC at this link.

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