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Can I get coronavirus from the mail? Packages? Dr. Fauci answers COVID-19 questions

Dr. Fauci (The White House/Flickr)

Can you get coronavirus from the mail? Are packages from Amazon and other retailers safe?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, answered questions about the COVID-19 pandemic during an interview with “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah on Thursday. Fauci said the biggest concerns are people who are sneezing and coughing, as the virus is spread primarily by droplets.

“There’s varied degrees of risk,” Dr. Fauci said.

The highest risks include high-touch surfaces like door handles, or handshakes; people should also be frequently washing their hands and avoiding touching their faces to limit risks.

But mail delivery and other packages are a very low risk, according to the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

“I don’t think we need to get completely obsessed about packages that come in because those types of surfaces — the virus might live there for a very short time,” Fauci explained. “But people say ‘Should I get a package from a grocery store that says made in China?’ I wouldn’t worry about that. That’s not the issue.”

“It’s more the close things, the hand washing,” he said.

How does coronavirus spread?

The National Institutes of Health says the virus responsible for the current pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, is mostly spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which is why social distancing rules of six feet are encouraged. The virus can also spread by aerosol, potentially surviving in the air for a brief time, or on surfaces that people touch.

How long does coronavirus survive on surfaces?

NIH study published last week said coronavirus can live on plastic and steel for two to three days, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on copper for up to four hours The virus is also detectable in aerosols for up to three hours.

Those times can also vary under real-world conditions, depending on factors including temperature, humidity, ventilation, and the amount of virus deposited. The CDC recommends routine cleaning of high-touch surfaces, including door handles, high-backed chairs, light switches and remote controls.

Is there a coronavirus cure?

Dr. Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said there currently is no cure for COVID-19.

“There is no proven, safe, and effective direct therapy for coronavirus disease,” Fauci told Noah. “There are a number of clinic trials that are trying to — by randomized control trials — get a definitive answer as to what works and what does not work.”

He cautioned against “anecdotal” stories of individuals who have reported success with certain drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine for malaria and for certain autoimmune diseases. He said there are concerns about toxicities, as well as taking the drug off the market from people who need them for other conditions.

“People think they kind of work, but they haven’t really proven they work,” he said. More clinical trials are needed, he added.

Is New York getting harder hit than other parts of the country?

Dr. Fauci told Noah that the number of cases in New York are not inflated because of higher testing. New York City is a densely populated city with lots of influx from other countries, making it especially vulnerable to spread.

“New York is more hardly hit, for sure,” Fauci said. “New York is a travel hub for the country… They didn’t do anything wrong. They’re not very different except that they’re a very robust city and because of that they’re getting hit hard.”


© 2020 Syracuse Media Group