This is not about delivering a baby at home, it’s about having a pizza delivered to your home. Or Thai Food, or shampoo, or kitty litter.

Last week we received a grocery delivery through Peapod, a service of our local Giant store. The delivery man left it on our back porch. We looked at it through the glass storm door. Our question was: what do we do with this stuff?

The “stuff” included fresh broccoli, cream cheese, sliced mushrooms, grapefruit, and three cartons of seltzer. The “Everything” bagels had been sold out, along with all the cleaning supplies we had requested. We didn’t even get hummus!

We decided to use disposable gloves to put everything in three coolers, except the seltzer, and then left it all on the back porch for three days. 72 hours. That’s our standard for objects from the outside, including mail. It doesn’t matter if Peapod or Whole Foods delivers it, or if our 37-year old daughter brings it by.

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We even disinfect our money!

At age 76 (me) and 73 (my wife), we are self-isolating. We are home alone.

If you search online for guidance about how to treat “outside” objects, including mail and cash money, you will not receive clear advice. Often we are treated to articles that say it is “unlikely” that you can get infected from something that is delivered to your home or delivered into your hand. To us, unlikely is not good enough.

Coronavirus stays “viable” on surfaces. Cardboard packages, stainless steel, cloth, plastic, and so on. Just how long? That depends on the material, temperature and humidity, and the “viral load” (i.e., touching a box versus sneezing on that same box).

Many “guides” are citing an article that appeared on March 18, 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine. A group of top researchers tested SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) and SARS-CoV-1 (SARS) on a variety of surfaces. They found that the novel coronavirus stayed “viable” on plastic and stainless steel for 72 hours, on cardboard for 24 hours, and on copper for 4 hours. There is a debate about whether “viable” is the same as infectious, since the concentration diminishes with each hour. You can make the decision for yourself after looking at the article, but for us the quarantine on delivered items is 72 hours.

Also see: https://medium.com/@corsonf/coronavirus-cold-chain-and-clean-chain-a66f720e12a

Adam Corson-Finnerty, March 28, 2020

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