Could package deliveries put you at risk for coronavirus? We ask an expert

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Delivery services like Amazon have been crucial for many people as they shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

But there are new concerns after news Thursday that an Amazon worker in Memphis tested positive for coronavirus. The employee was last on site March 21 and those who came in contact are in quarantine, the company says.

What steps is Amazon taking? What steps can you take to keep your family healthy? And can the virus be spread through package deliveries?

Infectious disease expert Dr. Stephen Threlkeld said it’s hard to know whether transmission through deliveries is likely. A person would have to put enough of the virus on a piece of cardboard to last days until it’s delivered.

To make sure, you can wipe down package with disinfectant, dispose of the packaging it came in immediately, and then wash your hands.

Experts believe the virus can only live on cardboard for 24 hours, so you can leave your package outside for a day before bringing it into your home.

“We don’t know at all if that’s necessary but it certainly should be sufficient,” Threlkeld said.

Amazon claims it’s increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning and adjusted practices to ensure social distancing, like staggering shifts and break times. The company also says it is giving all of its workers in quarantine two weeks’ pay. 

As for FedEx and UPS, they say they’ve increased their cleaning and stopped in-person signatures for most deliveries.

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