If you order things directly from China, the long trip your packages take to get to you is sufficient to kill the coronavirus. But what about domestic packages?
While the weeks it takes for your mail to come from China to the U.S. is enough time for the coronavirus to die, that might not be the case for domestic mail.
The Facts About Coronavirus and Surface Contamination
Although we’re simply calling it the “coronavirus,” it’s specifically the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” and is one of the many known coronaviruses.
Research is ongoing regarding this version of coronavirus, but, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s’s comparable to those that have come before it. It could stay on surfaces from as little as a few hours to at least a few days.
With the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could live for a few days on surfaces, you might worry about ordering things through the mail. (The thought certainly crossed my mind.) Thankfully, the WHO says there’s nothing to worry about.
Why the minimal risk? SARS-CoV-2 can survive for days under ideal conditions. Getting tossed around in delivery trucks, sitting in hot semi-trailers, ending up in the cold holds of cargo planes—dealing with wildly variable humidity and UV exposure along the way—all make for very inhospitable conditions.
If you’re getting an overnight delivery from an infected area, however, it makes sense to take precautions given the virus will have less time in the harsh world before it reaches you.
How to Deal with Packages and Mail
Coronavirus is transmitted through mucus and saliva, so someone would have to sneeze on the item you purchased, touch it with hands they sneezed or coughed into, or lick a seal on an envelope. If you’re worried about that kind of exposure to a package before it reaches you, there are simple precautions that require minimal effort.
You can opt to take precautions when ordering items from states that have recorded cases of SARS-CoV-2 or simply choose to be more cautious with all of your mail and packages until the outbreak ends.
Here’s a basic approach:
- Wash your hands after grabbing the mail or opening any packages.
- Clean solid items with disinfectant to remove any viruses.
- Dispose of the packaging immediately, preferably by putting it directly in your outside trash can or recycling bin, and then rewash your hands.
Although it’s very unlikely the virus will survive the trip, even from a neighboring state, it takes very little effort to play it safe by taking the above precautions.