Can Mom Safely Receive Packages?
"My mother has become an avid online shopper. It seems as though she has packages delivered daily. In fact, I think multiple deliveries come daily. Because she is in her 90s and in failing health, we don’t take her anywhere. She doesn’t go to church, the store, or visit family. Her only connection to the outside world is the mail, packages, and food that we deliver.
As her children, we are wondering how safe packages are. Should we tell her not to open them? Should the packages be wiped down before she touches them? Do we stop all external deliveries?
She has dodged the COVID curse so far. We are just wondering if we should take a further step."
It sounds like you have taken some very positive steps to protect your mother from a virus that could have negative consequences for her. Keeping her out of the presence of individuals who are shedding the virus is the most important step that you can take to prevent her from contracting COVID.
When it comes to packages and groceries, it becomes a bit more complicated. The virus needs a host to survive, and the host must be living. While the virus can attach to a non-living item, it will begin the process of dying.
Researchers have tested how long the virus can survive on different surfaces. I refer you to the viability of SARS-CoV-2 on different surfaces published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 16, 2020. On cardboard, they were not able to measure any viable virus for SARS-CoV-2 after 24 hours. On plastic and stainless steel, the half-life was less than eight hours. I am providing the actual article via this link for you to study: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
Since there is a certain amount of shipping time involved with packages ordered online, one simply needs to calculate the time from shipment to receipt. Products arriving from quick delivery solutions are the ones you need to ponder. At this time, you can order very rapid delivery of food and almost anything else. To be ultra-safe, avoid rapid delivery options so that traces of the virus that have attached to the packaging have more time to die. Wash hands carefully after putting groceries away and while handling packages brought into the home.
You and your mother seem to be taking all reasonable precautions to prevent COVID from infecting your family. Do take the final step of wearing masks, both her and you, when you are in her home. Do not assume because you are in the same bubble that you will not be exposed and infected while out and about. It is usually family members that pose the greatest risk. You are doing all the right things if you search for information and act on well researched advice.
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