How to Handle Packages during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

If there is one thing we all know by now, is that uncertainty and anxiety kicked in, in a whole new way for everyone in the coronavirus year. Social distancing and self-isolation has become the new normal, in some cases government mandated, because some selfish people still cannot grasp reality and feel no remorse in putting everyone at risk, especially the most vulnerable.

Governor Whitmer of Michigan, the state we operate from, declared Executive Order 2020-21 is in effect March 24 at 12:01 am, making people much more confused than before, as the order claims “Temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” going into explaining in detail that unless your job is absolutely necessary you must stay indoors to prevent the spreading of the virus, which is great!

However on part 7.a.1. of the same order, it establishes you can engage in outdoor activities ((say what?!)). Knowing Michiganders aren’t too kin on following rules and regulations, which one can experience just by driving around, means parks will be filled with adults and children to the rim. And even though they might respect the 6 feet social distancing (no, not really), all the surfaces, bathroom facilities, benches, tables, swing sets, etc, which inevitably will be sneezed on, coughed on and touched, which haven’t been cleaned, and won’t get cleaned nor disinfected in the next ever, could potentially spread the virus more rapidly.

Other states have passed much stricter orders completely restricting all necessary outdoor activities until further notice, short of Martial Law, in an attempt at curving down the spread of the virus, that at the time of this writing (5 hours of research, writing & editing prior to posting) counts with 407,485 417,698 confirmed cases and 18,246 18,614 total deaths in the world, of which 49,768 52,268 are confirmed cases in the USA with a death toll of 606 696, putting us as the third country with the most confirmed cases in the world. If there is one race we do not want to be anywhere near the top places, is this one.

But as many states and countries have enacted their own sets of rules, some good, some not so good, to try and curve down the spread of the virus experts still don’t quite understand how it spreads, not much information has been shared on how to prevent contamination on the era of global online shopping and package delivery.

What the CDC actually says.

According to the CDC there isn’t much information on how this virus in particular actually spreads. They’re assuming it spreads in a similar manner as SARS and MERS does, from person-to-person within a 6 feet radius. This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets we inevitably expel when talking, sneezing or coughing. The reason why they’re recommending to stay home and limit your outdoor activities as much as possible, cover your mouth with your arm when sneezing or coughing, wear a mask if you’re sick and even if you aren’t to prevent those droplets from entering your mouth and nose. Wash your hands thoroughly, don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth, or better yet, don’t touch your face at all while out and about, and use hand sanitizer, which people have exhausted because hoarders, if soap and water aren’t available. These are generic, common sense measures, which might or might not work for this virus, but for now they will have to do until scientists can learn more about this disease.

Yet all these measures in place are to prevent person-to-person contamination

What about all the online purchases you’re making and all the packages you are receiving or about to receive?

According to the CDC “Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.” How long exactly, nobody knows, which is a scary thought when you’re trying to protect yourself and your loved ones.

According to a study conducted on March 9, 2020 (not peer reviewed), it was observed the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 isn’t detected on cardboard surfaces after 24 hours, and other surfaces for days. (1) Other blogs are reporting this study as “COVID-19 could survive on cardboard surfaces up to 24 hours” implying the virus actually dies after 24 hours, which isn’t the findings of this study. There is a big different between not being detected after 24 hours, and could survive on cardboard surfaces up to 24 hours.

According to the Q&A on the WHO website “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.” (2) Keyword, low, but not impossible, because it’s impossible to predict how the virus will behave depending on certain conditions, like temperature variations, humidity, etc until scientists can actually reproduce these conditions and study the behavior of the virus.

As much as we at By Valenti Organics and other exclusively online business protect our clients by disinfecting all the items on all orders before they leave our facilities, have doubled and in our case tripled our cleaning and disinfecting routines for our labs, offices and packing stations, have set up extra measures to protect ourselves and our customers, the fact is the shipping companies we do business with in charge of shipping our packages, might not be as careful or paranoid as some of us are.

At By Valenti Organics we are instructing all our customers to open the boxes outside their homes, extract and disinfect the contents of their packages prior to placing them in their homes, discard the boxes and wash their hands thoroughly after. Disinfect the area where the box was opened and unpacked as an extra precaution.

Are delivery services keeping you safe?

The short answer is no, and not because they don’t want to, but because it’s impossible to completely protect every package and every employee in charge of your order.

Companies like USPS, UPS and FedEx, just to name 3 of the largest delivery companies in the USA, have set up steps to prevent contamination and the spreading of the virus. One of those measures is basically keeping an eye on employees suffering from flu like symptoms. Any employee with those signs is immediately relieved of their duties and sent home or the doctor for evaluation, and to prevent the spreading of the virus.

But by the time an employee is confirmed sick or suffering from flu like symptoms, it might be too late to stop the spread of the virus completely and efficiently due to the dynamics involved in the delivery process of the millions of packages shipped on a daily basis.

Trucks, sorting facilities, conveyor belts, airplanes and every station part of the package distribution facilities throughout the US, cannot get completely disinfected 24-7 like a cosmetic lab could for example, nor completely shut down, and that’s the reality of the business. Even though these companies have released statements explaining what they are doing and how they’re protecting consumers, their methods, as any other, are inevitably not 100% sufficient to eliminate any traces of the virus, and disinfecting all the millions of packages that are being constantly transported is an impossible, without mention excessively costly, task to accomplish.

For now, precaution and prevention is the key to protect ourselves from this pandemic that’s sweeping the planet, even when receiving your mail.

  • Instruct your mail carrier to leave packages outside the door of your home or business, like on the porch or covered patio.
  • Just as a precaution and if possible, wear a mask and a pair of gloves before handling your package(s). Your mail carrier could have sneezed in the truck causing the droplets to land everywhere, even on your package.
  • Have disinfecting wipes, liquid or a spray of your choice at hand.
  • Don’t bring your package inside your facility or home. Open your package outside.
  • Disinfect each item in your package prior to taking them inside your facility or home.
  • Don’t forget to disinfect the tool used to open the package and the door handle.
  • Discard the box appropriately.
  • Discard your gloves (if you’re running low on gloves you could wash your gloves with soap and water and spray some alcohol or bleach to disinfect them).
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands after!

For the time being, this is what we should all be doing to protect ourselves and our families to prevent the virus from entering our homes. It’s the least we could do, don’t you think?

Stay safe!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.