People Let Their Mail and Packages Sit Outside and Wiped Them Down

Woman unpacking her packages with Clorox disinfection wipes
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Woman unpacking her packages with Clorox disinfection wipes

One of the popular themes during the coronavirus pandemic was overkill, and how people managed their own behaviors. From the earliest news of the virus, the direction given to people from the science community shifted, and how people adapted to that new information showed a lot about their personality.

For instance, at the very beginning, health officials knew less about the ways the virus spread, and people decided it was a good idea to let their mail and packages sit outside for an extra-long period of time. The sun and the environment would kill the virus and reduce the potential for spreading. Then, when they finally brought them inside, they wiped them down with disinfectant spray or wipes.

However, the science became well-established that the primary mode of transmission was through respiratory droplets emitted during activities such as talking, coughing, sneezing. Officials emphasized the need for wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

While it was still recommended to clean frequently touched surfaces, it was important to remember that viruses do not jump off surfaces to infect people. For an infection to occur, there needs to be enough surviving virus on the surface, the person must touch it with their hands, and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. Therefore, excessive disinfecting may have diminishing returns, particularly if people practice good hand washing habits.

Public health officials faced a challenge in advising people on the appropriate level of cleaning required, particularly if cleaning did not cause any harm. Technically, wiping down your Amazon package didn’t hurt anything, but it really didn’t help anything, either.

While regular surface disinfection may not have significantly decreased the risk of COVID-19 transmission, it did provide a sense of control for individuals when they felt powerless. They couldn’t control a lot of what was happening in the world, but they could definitely spray their mail down with disinfectant spray, and that gave them the feeling of control. Clorox Co.’s business unit that manufactures cleaning products experienced a 30% surge in sales in 2020, and that must have felt pretty good for that company as well.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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