Caution With Packages & Deliveries: How Long Coronavirus Remains Infectious On Surfaces

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17 DAYS.

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That’s a scary number!

There are conflicting reports about how long the new coronavirus lives or remains infectious on various surfaces, but we’re getting new updates often as this situation unfolds and they’re learning more about how this particular caronavirus operates.

This is not about fear, it’s about awareness.

Awareness will save lives!

Should we be concerned about packages, deliveries, groceries and grocery bags, touching our own doorknob as we come back in from the yard if we live alone, cardboard boxes, the daily mail even? The short answer is YES.

Coronavirus Lives on Surfaces

The key is to be aware of the facts (both the knowns and unknowns) and take every precaution so we can work together, collectively, to STOP spreading this virus.

You definitely want to STAY HOME but that means ordering your groceries and household items online and getting other necessities delivered.

I’ve been staying home and in strict voluntary quarantine for 12 full days already, so I’ll share with you how I’m handling things (now). Plus some new information that’s just being released.

Washing your hands and “social distancing” (alone) is NOT enough.

I’ve read multiple studies on what differentiates the 2019/2020 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) from other pandemics such as: SARS (2002), Influenza (“common flu”), H1N1 (Swine Flu), etc.

Many have downplayed the severity of this new version of the the coronavirus with comparisons of those past pandemics.

Two things make this new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spread much faster, in “stealth mode” which is the biggest concern.

It has a long incubation period of 3-10 days (and even up to 2-3 weeks) from the point of contact to actual symptoms, during which time infected people could unknowingly spread it to everyone and everything they come in contact with.

Equally concerning is that the “virus shedding” continues for days (and up to three weeks) after someone recovers.

The stability and “stickiness” of this virus is another very concerning point, and why it’s spreading so quickly. They’ve determined it can stay in the air for around 3 hours, and on various surfaces for 24-72 hours.

This makes it very easy to catch the virus from common surfaces in your everyday life, plus seemingly “well” people who show and feel NO signs of being sick.

See: Up to 30% of coronavirus cases asymptomatic

Most people who feel fine have been going about their daily life, around other people, especially prior to all of the stay-home orders and business shutdowns (but most worrisome: even since then!).

This was during the “stealth period” of Community Spread across the United States (going on for about 8 weeks now), due to the long incubation period of the virus, before symptoms and severe cases began popping up.

The spread was (and is) fast & furious… and silently invisible.

Those people may still be at work now though, bagging your groceries or delivering your packages or your take-out meal – prior to experiencing any symptoms, or just days or a week after recovering (yet still potentially contagious).

Add in the fact that many people have very mild symptoms, which may get confused with seasonal allergies given the time of year, and you have entirely too many “contact points” with this virus from seemingly innocent sources.

That left us with a false sense of security, or lack of any deep concern, completely unaware of the rapid spread due to delayed symptoms and asymptomatic carriers.

Not to mention the fact that we (the general public) were not aware how long it remained in the air or on various surfaces until more recently.

How long does this coronavirus live on various surfaces?

There was a new study performed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, UCLA and Princeton University. It found the new coronavirus was detectable and stable on contaminated objects.

They discovered it can persist in the air for 3 hours, and up to several days on various surfaces: 24 hours on cardboard, and several days on stainless steel and plastic.

If an infected person coughs, sneezes or spits when they talk (we all do) then that virus can live and remain stable in the air within six feet in every direction for up to THREE HOURS of where they were.

Covid Spread Stay Home

To state the obvious, that means: If an infected person sneezed an hour ago in a grocery store, and you happen to walk within six feet of where that person was, or touch anything within six feet of where they stood, even if you’re “practicing good social distancing” in that moment – you could potentially get infected.

Note: a lot more people are already infected than any of us realize – yet (or may ever know about).

From that you can easily conclude that just staying at least 6 feet away from other people is NOT enough. Washing your hands often is not enough.

You could be completely alone somewhere and feel totally safe, not even realizing someone else was there 30 minutes ago… coughing.

Going out anywhere at all is a BIG RISK until they find a solution to this.

Catching Coronavirus from Surfaces

Even more alarming are reports this week that “almost half, 46.5%, of the infections aboard the Diamond Princess were asymptomatic when they were tested, partially explaining the “high attack rate” of the virus among passengers and crew.” –source.

And: “Available statistical models of the Diamond Princess outbreak suggest that 17.9% of infected persons never developed symptoms.”
source

And then… “SARS-CoV-2 RNA was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted.” –source

I also read another source from a study in China that said they found the virus could survive up to 9 days on metal.

Other sources say the virus can stick to clothes and hair and advise us to leave your shoes at the door, put your clothes directly in the washing machine, and shower & wash your hair after being out.

This would lead me to believe that while family pets probably can’t give you the virus (though there was one report of an infected dog in Hong Kong), it is possible they could be carrying it on their fur if they came in contact with an infected person.

Just a thought! Something to consider.

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My motto: touch NOTHNG, and throw away or wash everything that DOES touch something (immediately).

Although I personally am not leaving the house, at all, and have strict precautions with anything that comes into the house (mail/packages).

Some people must go to work though, or leave home for other reasons, I understand that. I was taking very strict precautions while taking care of my parents prior to my voluntary quarantine.

So if you DO have to go out (and ONLY if you have to) take every precaution.

Wear a mask, use a scarf if you don’t have one, wear gloves, wash your hands often, stay at least six feet away from other people – do everything you can do.

Taking Precautions - Covid Life 2020

If you want a quick and simple overview, this is a good read (imo): The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho Speaks About COVID-19

One of the questions asked was, “After a person recovers from the virus, how long are they still contagious?”

His response: “That’s a very important question. We’re not sure; one individual in China was shown to have persistent virus shedding for over a month. But typically, we’re looking at a three-week period from onset of symptoms.”

This will also contribute to the continued rapid spread, if those who recover get back to work or back around their friends & family within a few good days of “feeling fine” or thinking they’ve beat it.

Especially if some of those people had mild symptoms they thought were just allergies, and happen to be your mail carrier or the person preparing your take-out order, any delivery person – or if you’re still leaving your home: ANYONE.

Is Your Mail Contaminated?

Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned that SARS-CoV-2 could potentially be transmitted by contaminated objects.

“This is a sticky virus,” he said. The structure of the coronavirus’s protective envelope helps it bond tightly to certain surfaces: skin in particular, as well as fabric and wood, but also plastic and steel. -source: CBS News, Face The Nation (Sunday)

In this article: You’ve Got Mail. Will You Get the Coronavirus? they don’t give a definitive answer to that question.

To be fair we don’t HAVE any definitive answers yet – as to how infectious the virus is on surfaces we come in contact with, compared to people we come in contact with.

But what they DO say is right now they’re more concerned about the health of delivery workers that are keeping our mail and packages moving, especially with the much higher demand.

They are at higher risk because they are exposed to more mail and handling so many packages, and “struggling to access the sanitizing supplies and hand-washing facilities they need” according to that article. Not to mention being out & about doing that work.

And THOSE are the people showing up at your door, touching your mail and your packages, and in some cases… like the other day when it was raining, touching my screen door handle to kindly place my package between the doors instead of out in the rain.

That was very nice of course, but I was quick to disinfect the entire door and handles on both sides!

As for me, I am taking every precaution with both mail and packages.

The smart process is to use gloves to collect your mail and packages, put them in a safe but unused space (in your garage or home) away from common spaces for people & animals in your home.

Leave them for HOURS, dispose of your gloves, and wash your hands.

Practicing STRICT quarantine myself, I am getting A LOT of mail and packages…

Here are the tips I shared on Facebook the other day…

Coronavirus Amazon Packages

A 34 pound bag of dog food (our norm) for my senior dane, delivered on Sunday morning. Thank you USPS and Amazon!

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DELIVERY & PACKAGE HANDLING TIPS:⁣

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Bring packages inside or into the garage ASAP. Leaving things outdoors is not ideal in uncertain times.⁣

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Use gloves to handle / move packages & mail then dispose of the gloves & wash your hands.⁣

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Touch as few things as possible. Use your feet to scoot things. Don’t rub packages against your clothes, etc⁣

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Bring things inside to a “safe area” where people & pets usually aren’t. If not perishable, let them sit (minimum: 3 hours – I usually wait until the next day).

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When you do unbox or unpack things, or open your mail, use gloves and dispose of the packaging and gloves immediately. I will dump things out on the floor to avoid touching them (with potentially contaminated gloves or hands) once I open the package.

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Wash your hands immediately after touching anything that came into your home from the outside.

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Perishable or time sensitive deliveries: unpack outdoors with gloves on. Dispose of packaging & gloves outdoors. Wash your hands. Sanitize items you unpacked. Wash hands again. Put away perishable items. Wash your hands. Sanitize any area touched by you or those items. Wash hands (again).⁣

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Treat everything/one like POISON
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Play this game: there’s a serial killer out there putting invisible poison on anything and everything and everyone that makes some people deathly ill, turns some people into “silent spreaders” and delivers a slow and cruel death to others.⁣

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That’s a trippy and disturbing game, isn’t it?!

Oh wait

🤔
that’s real life right now…⁣

Play it safe friends!

😘

* * * * *

Groceries are one of those things that are perishable, and that I am being extremely cautious with. Especially considering grocery stores are “people magnets” with large numbers in and out breathing on and touching things.

I use a grocery delivery service (InstaCart is great!) and have them leave my groceries on the front porch and ring my doorbell.

Keto Grocery Delivery Covid 19 Safety Precautions

I try not to touch the actual plastic bags at all.

I ran out of disposable gloves so I used my gardening gloves to carefully remove the grocery items from the bags and transfer them to one of my own boxes.

I then threw away the plastic bags outdoors and left my gloves in the sunshine for a few hours before putting them in the washing machine.

Next I carried the box into my kitchen, washed my hands, wiped down and put away each food item, broke down the box and threw it away outside (using my hip to push open the back door latch), washed my hands again, disinfected the floor and counter where I was working – then washed my hands again.

Coronavirus Safety Grocery Delivery

Yes I find all of this an EXHAUSTING process, but I am taking NO chances – and I am committed to doing my part to slow the spread of this fast-moving virus.

My next big adventure…

I ordered a refrigerator online from Lowe’s yesterday.

Mine is OLD and not super reliable. Lately less than usual even.

Obviously this is NOT a good time for it to go out, not anytime in the next few months even, and I didn’t want to wait in case stores/delivery completely shut down at some point – or things simply get harder to get (and even more people are infected, putting me at even MORE risk).

I found a GREAT deal on a good brand that’s the right size for my quirky 1923 kitchen, at a ridiculously good price PLUS free delivery.

Now I am working out how to get the delivery guy in and out – with minimal risk & contamination.

🤔

If I’m wrapped up in a suit made of sheets looking like a Halloween zombie costume (and Slim too of course) – do you think that would be weird?

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😂

Seriously, though… I did ask them what their delivery protocol is at the moment, and they’re going to get back to me on that.

Given the virus is airborne I plan to section off the front side of the house from the back, which is where I normally stay (live and work). For now I’ll them put it in the spare room in that end of the house.

The temperature is moderate right now, so turning off the HVAC unit for a few hours would be a good idea too I assume.

My plan is to give them instructions, stay out of the way, keep myself protected, and then leave that end of the house quarantined for a full 24 hours before going in to disinfect the surfaces, doors, knobs, and new appliance.

What do you think?

Am I missing anything?

Overreacting?

How are you handling situations like this in YOUR home?

I admit / agree it’s SO MUCH WORK – every little thing.

But it’s not just about me…

What if I’m an asymptomatic carrier, or DID catch it off a package or my own doorknob inadvertently sometime in the last week, and the delivery people from Lowe’s come in and out, then back to work around all their co-workers, then home to their big family’s, then to church on Sunday (because many of them here in the south have a sign that says “Faith Not Fear!”), etc, etc, etc.

I just can’t.

When you think about every single point of contact and the exponential effect, it’s mind boggling.

I do not want to be ANY part of that.

The more people that step back and step OUT, just temporarily, the quicker we can get this under control and to a manageable state.

Best,
Lynn Terry,
aka @LowCarbTraveler

p.s. I research and fact-check as many sources as possible as I stay up to date on the Coronavirus / COVID-19 situation. I realize not every source is preferable to every person, so feel free to research on your own based on what I shared here.

p.p.s. There are political and economic issues at play, and have been from the start, that affected countless lives – and will ultimately affect us all.

I encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions, and do what is best for yourself and your loved ones: your family, your co-workers, your community – humanity.

New York is becoming the epicenter of coronavirus cases in the United States, and they’re expecting the height of the outbreak to hit them in about 40 days.

While things seem eerily calm’ish in most places right now, that should give you an idea of the timeline, and what to expect…

This next month is going to be a tough one.

Staying home and being mindful is not only a way to keep yourself safe, it’s a way to slow down the spread. Until we have preventions and cures, which take time, it’s the ONLY hope we have of getting through this.

TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

❤

Questions about preparations for staying in, recovering at home if you DO get sick, or quarantine protocol? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it!

It has ALWAYS been my mission to help you be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself. And right now… this is how I’m doing that.

In my next few posts you’ll see more discounts & giveaways, as well as preparation & coping tips/ideas – plus grocery lists (and the best places to get them online!) plus some of my super simple recipes & meal ideas.

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Robert F
Author: Robert F

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