As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, disinfectants are flying off the shelves and hand-washing remains the most touted method of prevention, but how do we clean our mail? Should we even be cleaning it? Well, rest easy: Preliminary testing suggests that you can't contract COVID-19 from mail or packages. Even if the interior contents had trace amounts of the virus, they are likely to have died by the time a package reaches you.
"Importantly, the CDC, the World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail," Dave Partenheimer, spokesperson for the USPS, confirmed over email.
COVID-19 Living on Surfaces
- The virus lives longer on plastic than cardboard or metal.
- The average lifespan of the virus on cardboard is 24 hours.
- There have been NO cases of a person in the US contracting COVID-19 from an imported package.
- Best practices would still have people not touch their faces after touching products that were delivered in the same day. Frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing is still the best defense.
- Doctors are adamant that the risk of smear transmission, or the infection travelling through touch of an infected surface remains low.
- All of the above statements are based on reporting through The New England Journal of Medicine or the CDC.
Delivery Service Protocols During These Times
- Nearly all carriers have implemented enhanced cleaning/disinfecting on docks, terminals and en route. Which includes increased focus on cleaning pallet jacks, fork lifts, truck cab interiors, door handles, break rooms, clipboards and handheld devices.
- Amazon has suspended warehouse work during cleaning, but warehouses remain open to keep up with high demand. They are offering 14 days of paid leave to workers who have contracted COVID-19 or have come in contact.
- UPS has adjusted their free UPS My Choice tool to allow delivery instructions for Coronavirus including where workers should deliver packages and is following WHO and CDC protocols for safe workspaces.
- FedEx is allowing customers to request health questionnaires for its local deliverymen and participation is at the discretion of the driver. They have closed or reduced store hours and asked sick employees to stay home for the recommended 14 day period.
- USPS is suspending signatures on packages and deliver packages from the six feet recommended distance. They have petitioned the government for more funding to keep operational during the crisis.
Information on Disinfecting Your Mail/Packages
Experts understand that mail disinfections can do more for your mental health than your physical health during this pandemic.
“I think if you start thinking about money and mail and things like that, you can almost sort of immobilize yourself, which I don’t think is a good idea,” Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID.
It is recommended to follow these practices:
- Set aside mail for 24 hours. Designate a corner or room for new packages and leave them isolated for at least 24 hours. OR Open the packages on the floor or outside, immediately take the cardboard to the trash or recycling. Then wash hands thoroughly.
- Always wash your hands and refrain from touching your face after opening packages.
- Wear rubber gloves when opening packages.
- Wait for packages/mail to be left a safe distance away before collecting them.
- Regardless of disinfecting your mail, the CDC and WHO recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, refrain from touching your face, keep informed of shelter in place and social distancing protocols, and stay at home for 14 days if you experience any flu-like symptoms or have come in contact with anyone with these symptoms.