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    • Some might say I'm a bit paranoid about catching the coronavirus, but I can't take any chances. My elderly father, who is turning 70 next year, lives with us and is in the high-risk group. So starting last week, I've set a dedicated quarantine zone for all mail and packages.

      Newly delivered mail and packages get quarantined for up to 3 days. According to an article in Business Insider, the coronavirus can live on a surface of cardboard boxes for up to 24 hours. However, the content inside it, like polypropylene plastic and stainless steel, commonly used in many products, can keep the virus alive for 2-3 days.

      The quarantine zone for my mail and packages is a workbench in a garage. I've implemented this procedure for over a week now. So far, so good, and everyone at home is healthy.

    • In the time of a pandemic, no mail is urgent enough to need an immediate response (my opinion). Packages are much more critical and a source of great temptation.

      Every day I'd clear up the path through the house into the garage, opening all doors before putting on gloves. I'd then march outside and pick up all mail and package boxes and carry them into the garage.

      Everything delivered on the previous day gets shifted over to the section labeled Day 2 or Day 3. After the last day of the quarantine, I feel safe opening up mail and packages.

    • Once in a while, I get a package that needs opening right away. For that particular case, I use extra caution, wearing new gloves, and wiping down all content with rubbing alcohol.

      As this coronavirus pandemic spreads, more and more delivery workers are overworking and getting sick. 12-hour shifts and reports of the warehouse workers catching the virus make me uneasy. The recent article in the New York Times also investigates this question:

      What's your take on this coronavirus quarantine procedure? Am I paranoid?

      Here is a photo of the quarantine zone after a few days:

    • I share your concerns, as I am several years older than your father. But I have not gone quite to the extremes you have, though I have thought about it.

      In another life, I used to open my mail on my kitchen table as I was eating breakfast, reading my Wall Street Journal. I omitted that briefly when anthrax spores were being mailed around after 9/11.

      Today, I do wear gloves retrieving the mail - they're cheap and easy - I open my mail in a hallway away from the kitchen using a metal letter opener rather than opening them with a finger which I like to feel is less likely to disperse dust/stuff from any envelope, or puncture a finger on a staple inside the envelope. If I had an attached garage as you do, I would use that, but I don't.

      I dispose of junk mail unopened, and remove the outer pages of any magazines or other printed materials, and put the naked magazines in a pile to soak in the sunshine later for a few days.

      Packages I try to minimize receiving, but still Amazon calls at times.

      I have reported ordering EarPod Pros back in early January when they were listed as in stock ( hence probably in the USA ) Alas, after I submitted my order, I was told they would arrive in early March, which I assumed meant they had not yet departed China or might be enroute.

      When they arrived I donned gloves to open the package, and then wiped all plastic surfaces of the case ( inside and out), USB wires, and EarPods themselves with rubbing alcohol and set then aside for a week. I have been using them now for at least two weeks and I have remained healthy.

      Like you @Vilen I suspect much of this is overkill, and have been assured it is not necessary. But while the risks, seem low, the stakes are potentially at least pretty darned high.

      After opening my mail I remove my gloves and wash my hands carefully with Dawn for 25 seconds. My hands are getting fairly dry so once my hands are no longer moist at all, I apply some hand lotion of some type too.

    • I take my mail from the box by hand and set it aside to sit for a day or two, then I wash my hands. The gloves are next to useless according to most advice from doctors I’ve seen, compared to hand washing.

    • @Apocryphal What you're doing is probably adequate as I said above. Probably.......

      I fail to see how gloves are useless, however - they are an established tool used to prevent infection in surgical suites around the world. I really wonder who actually said that gloves aren't useful.

      Maybe the goal was to prevent the public from hoarding gloves which I support. I have not purchased ANY gloves in the last 6 months or more - the ones I am using I purchased in the previous year, long ago. I keep them in my shop for changing oil and other dirty tasks. They're great for that - I know a lot of auto mechanics wear rubber or vinyl gloves at work, in the last decade, because it keeps oil and grease off their hands.

      I would state that one needs to know how to don gloves, AND remove them, without contaminating oneself, but that is pretty easy to learn.

      I agree gloves do not replace handwashing - I said as much in my post.

    • If it was just you, I might call you a bit paranoid, but since your father lives with you, I would call you being responsible.

    • Opportune moment for me to be looking at this thread. Tomorrow, I am expecting delivery of a new Lenovo laptop, about four weeks later than the original date. The machine was manufactured in China and shipped on March 13. I have no idea how many human hands have touched it during assembly, but I suspect few. The package will have passed through China, Korea, Germany and Barcelona before it gets to me. The biggest threat might be the UPS delivery person as I live in one of the world hotspots for the virus. So I'm thinking that I should treat the cardboard box as if it were contaminated, but not worry about the contents. Does that sound reasonable?

    • It does sound like reasonable odds if you were at the roulette wheel - but what if one of the slots on the rouette wheel dictated that you are going to die, by drowning slowly over several days? Or worse, someone you love?

      I would open it with gloves and a mask, out of doors, put the needed papers inside, like warranty information, manual etc outside in the Spanish sun for several days.

      I would carefully wipe off the plastic surfaces of the computer with rubbing alcohol ( ispopropyl alcohol ) on a large cotton ball, and then dry the computer carefully and let it sit in the sun until completely dry - then three days later or so, I would enjoy my new computer. Don't soak it, just lightly wipe it, then let it dry. I would do the same for cables and chargers.

      You might want to check with Dell about using rubbing alcohol on a micro fibre cloth to clean the LCD screen to verify whether that might harm it first - Apple has stated that one can clean their phone screens with rubbing alcohol. I have found one statement that there are commercial products - disinfecting wipes - specifically for LCD screens, but I haven't found any. At any rate, I would follow Dell's recommendation about the screen surface.

      Most of the recommendation for cleaning LCDs are just plain water on a cloth, but they aren't trying to disinfect anything either. You do not want any liquid to run down the screen into the electronic edges of the screen or its connectors - but I am certian you already know all of this.

      Or you could just let the sun shine on it for a few minutes each day, not enough to get hot or damage it, and then enjoy it.

      This basically how I dealt with my EarPodPros I recently received, ordered back in January.

      Who would have ever thought we would be having this sort of a conversation, @Richard

      I would discard the box and not bring it into my home, but as @Vilen and I discussed, we are just a wee bit paranoid. Just a wee bit.

    • I didn't mean to imply that gloves doctors are saying that gloves are useless - but the advice I've seen again and again in the media is that a thorough hand-washing is the best way to prevent spread, and that gloves do not give much extra protection if you're already hand-washing, and might even give a false sense of security. So its my interpretation that they are 'next to useless compared to hand-washing' - i.e. negligible added benefit.

      I always thought the use of gloves by doctors, especially in a surgery situation, was to prevent the doctor from infecting the patient. I somehow doubt Vilen is worried about infecting the mail with his germs, though of course if he's worried about passing things to his father it may make sense for him to wear gloves when handing the mail on to him.

      Same idea with the masks, btw. Great for helping you prevent the spread of your infection to others, not so great at preventing you from catching it.

    • Surgeons don surgical gloves, only after extensive scrubbing with surgical soap and brushes. The surgical gloves provide two specific protections

      1) As you suggested, they protect the patient from getting an infection from the surgeon's hands. The surgeon scrubs before donning the gloves so that even if a glove is punctured and the surgeon is unaware of that, his hands are still very hygenic.

      2) Surgical gloves also protect the surgeon from a long list of blood borne bacteria and viruses they might otherwise be exposed to, inadvertently. Hepatitis A,B,C, HIV, and bacterial pathogens like pneumococcus or menigococcus

      Wearing gloves, incorrectly, certainly may be worse than not wearing them - I agree - but sterile procedure is not rocket science. Doctors, nurses, surgical technicians, and numerous laboratory technicians all around the world do it everyday, hour after hour.

      I was not suggesting the @Vilen was worried about infecting his packages - I am sure he understood that fact also

      Actually, I think Vilen should NOT be wearing the same gloves he handled the mail with initially, when he hands it to his father - that would be a break in sterile technique since once he touches the envelopes, one assumes his gloves are now contaminated and need to be disposed of before touching anything he wants to remain sterile. If the mail has Corona virus, so will his gloves which then need to carefully be removed and replaced, ideally washing his hands between each action

      The mail should be opened, exposed to sunlight if possible, and then the inner contents of the envelopes after exposure to sunlight or UV lamp, handed to his father later, with clean hands or new clean gloved hands. But certainly not with the gloves used to open the mail initially.

    • And the gloves are to be disposed of after each use, if I understand correctly.

    • Absolutely!

      Burned ideally. Much medical waste is indeed burned!

      But disposed in the trash is probably acceptable since we know the Corona virus is reasonably fragile and probably won't survive long.

      When I dispose of gloves at home, they are removed so that the outside is inside the glove, and hence probably harmless - unless someone tried to re-don the inside out gloves.

      Hopefully, trash pickers are smart enough not to don thrown away protective vinyl or rubber gloves. There's no market for used gloves that I am aware of. They might even have holes in them by that point.

    • As @Pathfinder pointed out, I don't reuse the gloves after handling mail and packages. In my mind, the gloves are contaminated and require quarantine. I take them off and lay them right next to the mail pile. They also get transferred to Day 2 or Day 3. I haven't reused any gloves yet, but plan on doing so after a couple of weeks. Here is the current status of the quarantine zone:

    • I don't know if there is a shortage of safety gear, or if that is a personal choice, but not every letter carrier wears gloves. Honestly, I'm very grateful to everyone involved in getting the mail to my front door. They are out on the front lines. But it is up to me to stop the coronavirus spread inside my home.

    • Amazon package delivery crew is probably the most susceptible to coronavirus exposure. They are juggling packages and running around all day. They are our true crisis heroes, and I wish them to stay safe and healthy. We need them now more than ever!

    • Thanks for the link!

      I checked out the direct link for donations:

      It looks like they don't accept open glove boxes. I'll look around the garage to see if I have any unopened ones. Here are the guidelines:

      We are currently accepting new supplies for use by hospital and clinic staff and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospital & Clinics, O’Connor Hospital and St. Louise Regional Hospital.  These supplies include personal protective equipment (i.e. N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, gowns), disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and other items.  Review the list below for details.  Equivalent supplies from other manufacturers will be accepted.  Any quantity, including very large amounts, are accepted.  No opened boxes or materials past use date/expired, please.

    • Seems like a bit of overkill to be honest, but with your dad in the house I can understand not wanting to take any risks. In this case it's definitely better to be safe than sorry.

      I think if you were to just wipe everything down with rubbing alcohol that should suffice. Even working in a research lab where contamination can undo hours or days or work, we usually just disinfect surfaces with 70% ethanol and call it a day.

      I haven't read much into the survivability of COVID19, but from my understanding it's highly contagious, not necessarily highly robust. Just like any other virus, it too can easily be dealt with just by practising good hygiene.

      Hope you and your family will stay safe and healthy 😀

    • Who would have ever thought we would be having this sort of a conversation, @Richard

      No kidding, Jim. It's remarkable how quickly everything has changed.

      I read the recommendations here and also consulted with my daughter, who's a molecular biologist by training. Also looked at some stuff about survival time on surfaces from the NIH. I concluded that it probably wasn't necessary to worry about the contents of the box, but that I had to take greater precautions than I had been planning with the box itself. So I took delivery outside of my apartment, wearing gloves and with a large plastic bag, in which I placed the package. Then I used a damp cloth to wipe any dust off the package and opened it within the bag. The machine was in another box, which was shrink wrapped. I took off the gloves and took that box inside. Then I closed the plastic bag with the cloth and gloves inside and carried it to the garbage bin outside, came back inside and put my sweatshirt in the wash and washed my hands and forearms. It felt like something out of Chernobyl, or pehaps more cautious than they were. The bad news is that it made me realize that I should probably have been taking the same precautions with the grocery deliveries I've been receiving for the past two weeks.

    • You know, at Chernobyl, at least that had Geiger counters or something to help them gauge the risks.

      Now we get to roll the dice, and find out in three to fourteen days, what we rolled! 😬

      Sounds like you should be just fine.

      I was more cautious in my approach to EarPods Pro , only because they were going to be worn in contact with my skin for hours at a time. I felt what I did was probably overkill, but easy enough to do that I woudn’t skip it.

    • We’ve been getting produce in plastic bags (yuck) from Instacart and out of abundance of caution I leave them on the porch overnight (it’s refrigerator temp at night here), then I place them in the sunshine for a few hours in the a.m. before bringing them in the house.

      But microbiologists are by and large playing down the risks, no? Like this prof from Harvard:

    • Yeah, I thought I was the only paranoid one, but @Richard and @Vilen convinced me I wasn't really crazy, after all. Or at least, not the only anxious citizen........

      Maybe being more cautious just calms my anxieties more - ok, a few hours sitting in the sun is cheap for that comfort, isn't it? Being less anxious is probably a good thing these days.

      Sealed plastic bags COULD be soaked for 5 or 10 minutes in warm soapy water without harming anything I think, and then carefully rinsed - that should be even more effective than just sunshine which might miss a few shadow areas that you are unaware of.

      My sister sent me a link about using dilute bleach directly on produce - I told her that was nuts, toxic, and dangerous - DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER DOING IT. You can't hardly believe anything you read on the web anymore.

      But a little Dawn in water on plastic packages, then rinsed off isn't going to harm anyone.

    • My family wipes everything down from the grocery store with antibacterial wipes before storing them. I'm not entirely sure how helpful it would be to leave groceries out overnight and in the sun. Was that recommended to you by someone?