By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – As an estimated 3 billion packages and cards are delivered during the holiday season. Some have raised concerns of possibly contracting COVID-19 through particles on shipments. However, researchers are encouraging recipients to not fear contracting COVID-19 via deliveries.

(credit: CBS)

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Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Colorado State University Professor Alan Schenkel say the likelihood of the virus transmitting between people via mail is very unlikely.

“It is a very small risk, but it is a reasonable concern for people to have. Especially if they are high risk with have diabetes or other health factors,” Schenkel told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, many feared the particles of COVID-19 that landed on surfaces could easily infect someone else. While researchers did determine the particles could survive on some surfaces for up to five days in a laboratory environment, Schenkel said updated research suggests the particles virtually never transmit and cause illness to another.

“In the real world, what happens is there are lots of things that cause particles to dissolve over time,” Schenkel said.

(credit: CBS)

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Studies show most transmission of COVID-19 is done by one person distributing respiratory droplets in the air to another, especially when both parties are unmasked. While it is rare that particles last on surfaces long enough to be shipped and delivered, with most dying before they even make it on to a truck, Schenkel said those overly concerned can still take steps to assure safety.

Schenkel said those wanting to go the extra mile to guarantee a clean package in their home can leave their shipment in an isolated location like a garage or closet. Doing so for a few days, especially in a warm area with low humidity, will guarantee any particles present will be dead.

“If you need to, wipe off the outer surface,” Schenkel said. “The virus particles decay faster where it is warmer. So, if it is in a cool and dark spot, it is probably not going to decay as quickly.”

Schenkel and the CDC suggest washing hands for at least 20 seconds after opening mail.

(credit: CBS)

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While receiving mail should be perfectly safe in almost all cases, Schenkel said the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 is drastically higher for those waiting in confined lines to ship the items at the post office.

Dillon Thomas