Even if the worst is currently behind us, only continued caution and surveillance will keep it there.
With a better understanding of the average size of SARS-Cov-2 fomites, the duration of time that they remain active, the surfaces and temperatures that better facilitate this value, and the maximum distance that infected aerosols are able to travel from their host, the public is well-equipped to leave their homes when necessary.
When it comes to staying safe during our work commutes and food hunts, there’s a lot to parse and there’s a lot more still on the way.
However, a final word on how we ought to handle the items we bring in from the outside has been a litter harder to come by.
According to new data from The Food and Drug Administration, there has yet to be any evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of the coronavirus mutation that causes COVID-19.
“This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food,” the FDA states.
Given that we’re dealing with a pathogen that resembles few others, most health systems suggest a great deal of caution irrespective of the latest data set.
Right now, we know that the virus can remain active on packagings like milk containers and detergent bottles for roughly two to three days.
The same is true of refrigerators, pots, pans, sinks, and water bottles.
For most shipping boxes, SARS-COV-2 cannot survive more than 24 hours.
This value decreases to four to eight hours when applied to aluminum cans, and tinfoil.
Although the coronavirus doesn’t seem to spread through exposure to food, the FDA recommends thoroughly washing all fruits and produce before consumption.
FDA guidelines for handling food
Prepare a shopping list in advance. Buy just one to two weeks worth of groceries at a time. Buying more than you need can create unnecessary demand and temporary shortages.
Wear a face covering or mask while you are in the store. Some stores and localities may require it. Check your state, county or city guidelines for any other requirements.
Carry your own wipes, or use one provided by the store to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket. If you use reusable shopping bags, ensure they are cleaned or washed before each use.
Practice social distancing while shopping – keeping at least six feet between you, other shoppers, and store employees. Keep your hands away from your face.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds when you return home and again after you put away your groceries.
Again, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution.
According to John Hopkins University, 40,700 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in the U.S. and regions in the Midwest are currently evidencing daily case increases of 10% or more.
With every bit of promising data it becomes increasingly difficult to stay the course, but as The U.S COVID-19 task force warns, without patience for the research, the path to recovery will not be a sustainable one.
“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,” Anthony Fauci explained in a press statement. “So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire.”