Many people are taking to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. From finding items otherwise sold out in stores to avoid going out more than needed, online shopping is vital for many right now. While this may seem the easiest option, you may still be wondering if it’s the safest option — the question of “Can coronavirus spread through the mail?” may be at the top of your mind. The easy answer is yes, unless you take proper precautions.
What we do know about coronavirus is that it’s being spread mainly from human-to-human contact. Respiratory droplets produced by an infected person’s coughs or sneezes spread the virus.
At the beginning of the outbreak, some people worried about packages from China, in particular, carrying the virus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dispelled rumors, saying “It is unlikely to be spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.”
As for domestic packages, there have been studies that found evidence of the virus surviving on cardboard, plastic and steel. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) found COVID-19 could survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
Does Mail Put You at Risk?
Experts like Joseph Vinetz, MD — a Yale Medicine infections disease specialist — told Health, “detection does not mean transmissible.” Just as the CDC stated, while packages may have come into contact with the virus, the probability of it surviving until it lands at your door is unlikely.
Another thing to consider is the health of your mail carrier and package handlers. If they are ill and working, there is still the potential of them spreading the virus via respiratory droplets as they handle and deliver packages directly to your home.
So, you don’t necessarily need to cut off your online shopping to fill your essential needs as long as you are taking preventative measures:
- Avoid direct contact with your mail carrier — don’t do direct hand-offs and do maintain a distance of six feet.
- Disinfect your mailbox and your packages.
- Wash your hands immediately after handling any mail or packages.
More Coronavirus Questions and Answers:
- Are you washing your clothes properly to fight coronavirus?
- Is it risky to get pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Is COVID-19 airborne?