Can You Get COVID from Deliveries?
Tips on How Small Businesses Can Prevent COVID-19 Transmission from Package Delivery
As your experts in the packaging business, enKo Products shares small business owners’ concerns about public health and the safe delivery of goods. It’s easy to be misled by the wrong information and other people’s misconceptions. We are writing this blog to demystify a few things related to the Coronavirus and its effects on the cargo business.
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many to stay home and heavily rely on online shopping for most of their needs. One point of concern is if package delivery results in viral transmission. So we shall explore what science has found out so far and assess the likelihood of contracting the disease from the transport of goods.
What Are the Things Currently Known About COVID-19 and its Transmission?
The life form that is the Coronavirus needs nutrients, like proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, to survive. It cannot get those nutrients on its own, so it needs a human or animal host to live.
In humans, it was revealed that it mainly inhabits the mouth and the breathing passages, but it is barely present in the intestines. Therefore, an infected person is more likely to pass it on by his contaminated mouth and nasal fluids, and not in the same manner that gastrointestinal illnesses are spread.
You would hear the WHO and CDC medical experts saying that the Coronavirus is mainly transmitted person-to-person by close contact. This is because the simple act of talking releases unseen viruses in the air, which a person close by can unknowingly breathe in. Sneezing and coughing can do the same.
Viral aerosols can spread within a 6-foot radius, which is the reason behind the CDC’s social distancing guideline.
Since some infected individuals may be asymptomatic, they can also pass on the Coronavirus just by exhaling. Droplets that land on their hands can contaminate someone else by touching.
Scientists also found that the virus can survive on various material types, some of which we use daily to transport products. But how likely are you to get COVID-19 from touching your packages? Conversely, can you pass it on to the pickup guy or your customer when you ship a parcel?
Before we answer these, there are some things that you need to know about this disease agent.
How Long Does the Coronavirus Last on Surfaces?
A few months ago, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) released the following findings about the pathogen’s survivability on different materials:
- The Coronavirus can stay alive while suspended in air—termed as “aerosol”—for up to 3 hours. When an infected individual talks, liquid droplets release viral particles that can float. The critical time for exposure to “infected aerosol” is within the first hour when 50-100% of the viral population is present in midair. Much less than this remains by the third hour.
- On paper surfaces, the virus can survive for up to 24 hours. However, by the 24th hour, only a very small population stays alive.
- On plastic surfaces, the virus is detectable for up to 72 hours. Again, by that time, only a tiny fraction of the population remains.
- On metals, copper is less permissive as the Coronavirus survives on its surface for only 4 hours. By comparison, it can survive on stainless steel for up to 48 hours.
In essence, survivability does not just indicate how long the pathogen can outlast the unfriendly environmental conditions outside the human body. When these figures are reported, they also imply other important information, particularly how much of the viral population remains infective at a given period. Only a very small number live at the maximum survival time and are usually not enough to produce disease.
Can I Get COVID-19 from Touching or Opening the Mail?
Presently, there is no hard evidence that supports the possibility that the virus can be transmitted by touching or opening the mail. This can also be related to the NEJM’s report on its survival on paper surfaces. By the time a parcel gets to you, a significant amount of the pathogen would have been gone, having no human host for a long period of time.
Can I Get the Coronavirus from Having Food Delivered?
There is no evidence either that one can get the agent simply from having food delivered. As long as there is no social contact between you and the delivery person, your risk of acquiring COVID-19 stays low. Only a small viral population remains on the packaging, and sanitary food preparation can eliminate the pathogen.
Can I Get COVID-19 from Sending or Receiving Packages?
It depends on the kind of interaction you have with the delivery person. Sticking to the CDC guidelines, like physical distancing by at least 6 feet, wearing a mask, and hand sanitation, can keep you safe.
If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, you may also want to protect the delivery person. You can do this by letting him place your mail or pick up your packages away from you without touching your doorknob. If proof of delivery is required, disinfect your hands beforehand and wear your mask while signing for the mail. Remind the courier to wipe down the signature pad with alcohol-dampened cloth afterward.
If payment is needed for deliveries and pickups, cashless transactions are advisable. If this cannot be done, make sure to pay the exact amount to minimize social contact.
What Can I Do to Prevent Coronavirus Transmission in My Place of Business?
Disease spread can be prevented if everyone would make an effort to follow the CDC guidelines. Workers and employers should cooperate to prevent viral transmission in the workplace.
By yourself, you can do the following:
- Wear at least a cloth face mask while at work.
- Limit social contact. Keep a gap of at least 6 feet from others and avoid crowded areas.
- Bring 70% alcohol or a hand sanitizer wherever you go. Bring disinfecting wipe pads too if you can. Wipe down frequently touched surfaces or items, such as tabletops, pens, electronic gadgets, doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc. before and after using them.
- Practice the recommended preventative actions.
» Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes while at work, because these are the likely sites where the virus enters the body.
» Wash your hands periodically with water and soap, doing so for at least 20 seconds every time.
» Use tissues or your elbows to cover your mouth and nose while you cough or sneeze. Throw away tissues properly.
- Stay home if you feel sick.
Employers can protect their businesses by doing the following:
- Encourage employees to stay at home when they’re sick and advise them to follow home isolation protocols.
- Implement non-punitive sick leave policies.
- Provide reliable information about the virus, as well as training in transmission prevention.
- Enforce contactless, no-knock and no-signature deliveries whenever possible.
- Use safety signs liberally to remind workers to practice transmission-preventive measures. Post reminders for wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from co-workers. Put up signs for handwashing and caution against touching the nose, mouth and eyes.
- Place hand sanitizers in multiple places, labeling them prominently so they can easily be spotted.
- Organize work schedules such that some can telework while others have staggered shifts.
These are just the most important parts of the CDC’s recommendations, but a comprehensive list is posted on their website.
There is currently much misinformation about how the Coronavirus spreads. It doesn’t help that, at this point, we still have a lot to learn about controlling this dreadful pathogen. However, we hope you’ve gained much from this knowledge that we just shared with you, which can protect yourself and your business.
For now, we know that the virus is not spread through the delivered packages themselves but by social contact. Limiting face-to-face interactions outside of home is a big step towards preventing disease spread and doing your part in protecting society.
Let enKo Products Help Meet Your Packaging Needs Safely and Affordably
At enKo Products, we encourage and value health practices at work so our goods can be safely delivered to our customers. We also support safety-conscious business owners by offering the following top-quality materials at very low prices:
- Hand stretch wrap
- Shipping and packaging supplies
- Warehouse labels
- Sheet labels
- Direct thermal labels
- Dymo labels
- Brother labels
Order enKo Products now and get the best deals in packaging materials!