Baltimore, MD - Mar. 24, 2020 - While Gov. Larry Hogan stopped short of enacting a shelter-in-place order, the new restriction closing all nonessential businesses is an effort to have Marylanders stay at home and practice social distancing.
Under the latest order, places like retail stores, hair salons and nail salons will have to close, while liquor stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, big box stores and other businesses are exempt.
At this time, restaurants and bars will remain open for takeout and delivery.
More and more people are ordering online deliveries to avoid going out to stores, but could those boxes unintentionally deliver the coronavirus right to doorsteps?
Packages and mail are handled by a lot of different people, many of whom you'll never even see. So during the pandemic, you want to take extra precautions to make sure you're keeping yourself and your family safe.
“I think that we shouldn't be extremely concerned, but I do think it makes sense to use caution,” said Dr. Miriam Alexander, with LifeBridge Health.
Using caution means paying attention to everything coming into your home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people are having more things delivered instead of going out to the store to avoid the virus, but when asked if it's possible that the virus lives on the outside packages:
"We're not exactly sure how long. It's different for paper, for styrofoam and cardboard, for metal, for wood,” said Alexander.
Alexander said the risk is low. Most transmissions will happen person to person from respiratory droplets, but it doesn't hurt to be extra careful.
“You can open them outside of the house and actually throw the waste right in the recycling, and then bring the mail or the interior things of the packaging inside and I would probably then -- after you open the mail, open the packaging -- I would wash your hands very well with soap and water,” said Alexander.
Also don't forget to disinfect any surface the outer boxes touched, like a countertop. You can also take the same precautions with takeout or delivery food.
Alexander said if nothing else, it's an opportunity to get back into good habits.
“It should be a reminder to all of us that we should always be washing our hands frequently with good soap and water or using antibacterial products, and we should be cleaning the counters of our kitchen all the time,” said Alexander.
Coronavirus - What you should know
The following information is from the CDC:
What are the signs and symptoms?
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
- Shortness of breath
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
How does COVID-19 Spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How easily does coronavirus spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily.
Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
Prevention and treatment
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.