Today in the age of COVID-19, we are getting things shipped and delivered in unprecedented numbers to stave off personal infection. But how long does this virus last on packages and mail that come to your home and what is the likelihood that you could become infected from it?

WHO Says it is Unlikely

Although the coronavirus mainly spreads from person to person contact, someone who is infected may touch mail or package that comes to your home. On its website, the World Health Organization has said that the risk from a package that has been moved, traveled and exposed to many different conditions and temperatures is very low. However, our understanding of this virus seems to change on a daily basis. So how can you determine if your delivery is safe to touch without getting infected yourself?

The Virus’ Lifespan According to Today’s Knowledge

A March study by the New England Journal of Medicine looked at how long the virus could survive outside the body. Their results were dependent upon the material the object was made of.

The virus itself seems to live for a variety of different timelines, from minutes to even days, on surfaces depending on what that surface is made of. But it’s important to note that although there is still much we don’t know about this new coronavirus, you are much more likely to become infected from being around a contagious person than from touching contaminated deliveries.

The Greatest Risk is From Non-Porous Materials

Non-porous surfaces like metal, glass, plastics and ceramics can harbor the virus for a matter of days depending on the environment it is in. Depending on the material and the setting, these surfaces can remain infected for 2 to 5 days.

What is the Risk From Package and Mail Deliveries?

When it comes to packages and mail, the virus will probably not survive the time it takes to be shipped and delivered. The risk here comes more from the individual delivering them than the package being infected at the point of origin.

How long the virus remains viable after delivery by a potentially infected person depends on the material that it is made of and the environment it is exposed to. The standard cardboard box can carry the virus for up to 24 hours. Mail depends on what type of material the letter or package is made of. Depending on what the paper or package composition is, a virus has the potential of lasting from a few minutes to up to 5 days for something that is mailed in a plastic-coated envelope or pouch.

Don’t Take Chances

Dr. Sally Wenzel, the chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health has suggested that if you are unsure of a surface, it’s a good idea to treat it with a disinfectant and maybe even leaving a package outside or in your garage overnight. Wash your hands after handling any mail or packages.

“The easiest way to make sure that you aren’t bringing the virus in with your packages is to treat the package as though a COVID-19 positive person last handled it: Wipe off all items before putting them away, throw out your packaging and wash your hands,” she said.

The Philadelphia Mailroom will be open normal hours during the coronavirus crisis and we are taking every precaution to ensure that our premises are safe and disinfected. If you need any shipping assistance, we are here to help. Call us at (215) 745-1100.