It might be summer vacation for America’s kids and students, but COVID-19 hasn’t taken any breaks at all. In the weeks since reopening measures kicked into gear, there have been multiple spikes of infection in several hot spots around the country.
If you’re set to return to work in the near future, the spike in cases doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to protect yourself and your colleagues. Tap or click here to see our guide to returning to work safely during COVID-19.
Though the company has fared well during the majority of the pandemic, a recent breakout at an Amazon distribution center has given authorities cause for alarm. Here’s what you need to know, as well as how you can protect yourself from transmission through package delivery.
Infections soar at Minnesota Amazon fulfillment center
According to reports from KEYC News, an Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, MN is experiencing a significant coronavirus outbreak among its workforce.
At least 88 out of around 1,000 workers at the warehouse have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, and state officials have already reached out to Amazon with guidance on how to slow the spread internally.
Amazon is one of the leading employers in Minnesota, and this is hardly the company’s only COVID-19 spike in the state. At least 99 other employees from other Amazon locations in the Twin Cities metro area have also tested positive for the virus.
In a statement to KEYC, Amazon said that total cases appear to be “highly correlated to the overall community rate of infection,” and that the company is confident that the “robust safety measures” put into place will protect its thousands of Minnesota employees.
How this tracks out in the future, however, is unknown. Considering how rapidly the virus continues to spread, this remains a potential vector to keep an eye on.
If an Amazon worker gets sick, am I at risk?
As of now, there is evidence that surface transmission is still possible for the novel coronavirus. If you’re ordering from Amazon, it’s wise to apply the same degree of caution you would when shopping anywhere else during the pandemic. That means carefully handling, sanitizing and storing any packages you receive.
When you place an order on Amazon, you can leave special delivery instructions during checkout. On the Select a shipping address or Review your order page, choose Add delivery instructions and request your package be placed in your mailbox, on your doorstep, or some other specific location.
Once three hours have passed from delivery, you’ve reduced your chances of contacting any aerosol particles from the delivery person.
Next, you’ll want to note your order’s packaging. If you receive a cardboard box, handle it with gloves (if possible) and place it in a safe, secure outdoor location — like a backyard, patio or balcony — for 24 hours. If it’s a plastic package or bag, you’ll want to leave it in your secure location for up to three days.
When you’re finished handling the package, wash your hands. Hand sanitizer is fine if you’re on the go, but you must wash thoroughly with soap and water to be fully protected.
Once enough time has passed, put on a fresh pair of gloves and wipe down the box or bag. If you have disinfecting wipes, you can use them — but a paper towel moistened in 70% isopropyl alcohol will also do the trick. You can use 90% alcohol, as well, but you need to dilute it.
Give the items in your box a wipedown, too. Throw out all the packaging, gloves and whatever you used to disinfect, then wash your hands again. Now you’re ready to enjoy your order. Tap or click here to see how to properly sanitize food delivery and takeout orders.
Bonus: Use this map to get a bird’s-eye view of where COVID-19 is spiking
If you’re concerned with the state of your own neighborhood during the pandemic, simplified state maps aren’t going to cut it. If there’s a spike in a specific area, it can throw the state average off — even if case numbers are mild in your county.
Thankfully, this new tracking map from spatial analytics company Esri gives you an easy-to-understand breakdown of COVID-19 cases at the county level. Hot spots are color-coded for your convenience, and community spread is ranked in terms of trends, so you can see exactly how risky it is to be going outside in your area.
Whether we continue to do our best to slow the spread or eventually acquire herd immunity from all of the active infections, your guess is as good as ours is as to what comes next. We’re in uncharted territory, so make sure to do what you can to protect yourself and your loved ones. Tap or click here to see three proven ways to stay safe from COVID-19.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.