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Kim's column

Sanitizing Amazon boxes, taking Uber and getting food properly during the coronavirus pandemic

Suddenly, without time for much preparation, Americans were told to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. Remote working was no longer an option just for adventurous millennials. Parents were also asked to become full-time teachers.

Unemployment rates skyrocketed as many small businesses closed. But at the same time, I did the research and found a silver lining. Tap or click here for a list of 12 companies that are hiring more than 750,000 workers right now during this pandemic.

Since my 20-plus-year career on national network radio and as a tech columnist focuses strictly on living the best digital life, I see other changes that may not be readily apparent. What the internet and various technologies have offered in terms of convenience must now be approached with caution. Let me explain how.

Opening your Amazon boxes and other online orders

One week before the news broke that at least 10 Amazon warehouse facilities had workers infected with the coronavirus, I warned my audience not to simply pull out a box cutter and grab their package deliveries. You can’t do that anymore. Lots of people touch your online orders.

Think about it. There are the people who packed the order, the ones who load the trucks and the final deliverer to your home. Technically, the virus could last for up to 24 hours on cardboard.

Only open your Amazon boxes, or other online orders, outside and immediately throw the packaging away. If you have latex gloves, use them. Clean the wrapping off the items you ordered and the item itself with disinfectant wipes.

Make sure you’re using chemicals that are known to kill the coronavirus. Tap or click here to see the list.

Remove the gloves and rely on the CDC’s top recommendation. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in hot soapy water.

Tap or click now to learn more about sanitizing Amazon boxes on my site, where I have posted additional details, including telling delivery drivers where to leave your packages.

Paying for your purchases

It’s not wise to hand over your debit or credit card for your purchases anymore. You don’t know when the person handling it last washed his or her hands. Even worse, the person could be infected or an asymptomatic carrier.

Here’s where tech helps. First, set up your phone to use Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. Think of it like a digital wallet in your phone that replaces your physical wallet.

It contains your debit or credit card number, so when you’re done shopping and are paying for your purchases, all you have to do is unlock your phone by using your face or entering your passcode. Tap your phone on the reader at the cash register and, like magic, you’re done.

The charge will be processed using the debit or credit card you entered into your digital wallet.

Obviously, there are precise steps you need to take before you can do this. Tap or click here for the instructions to use your phone instead of your credit card to pay for purchases at grocery stores, pharmacies and more.

Taking an Uber or Lyft

How fabulous has it been to open your phone, tap an app and have someone ready to take you anywhere in a few minutes? During the pandemic, ride-sharing services have been deemed “essential” in many areas transporting medical personnel and the vulnerable around. But does this mean it’s safe to take an Uber or Lyft?

When you get into a car, you simply can’t comply with the CDC’s social distance rule of keeping six feet away from anyone else. Some drivers are using disinfectants after each rider, but there’s no way to know if it was done correctly or that it even happened. Avoid ride-shares if you can.

I spoke with Sergio Avedian, who is a Senior Contributor at RideShareGuy.com, for a podcast about what it’s really like to be an Uber driver during a pandemic. It’s genuinely frightening.

You can listen to this podcast on Apple, Google or wherever you get your podcasts by searching for “Komando.” Alternatively, you can listen on my website by tapping or clicking this link.

Getting meals and food delivered

Online meal home delivery companies such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Home Chef see a surge in orders. It makes sense because we’re all holed-up and need to eat.

Even though you ordered online, human hands put the boxes together that contain the meat, sides, vegetables, spices, instructions and more. This applies to your grocery deliveries, too.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence food can infect you. But health officials still urge people to carefully clean packaging and wash fruits and vegetables as a precaution.

When you receive your package, wear latex gloves and wipe the box down with disinfecting wipes. Open the package outside and throw the box away. If it’s a shelf-stable item, wipe it down with a disinfectant and put it in a safe area separate from the rest of your food. Let it sit for one to three days.

For perishable items, wipe down the container with disinfectant and put it in the refrigerator immediately. Try to isolate it from other items in your fridge. Wait one to three days, then wipe it down again before opening. Any fresh ingredients like fruits or vegetables should be carefully washed with soap immediately before storage and washed again before being consumed.

If the item is something you need to eat right away, follow similar rules. Use latex gloves, sanitize the container it came in and use clean kitchen utensils to transfer the food to a clean plate or bowl. Discard the containers, any plasticware, condiments and napkins.

For more information about handling food, as well as see new tech that allows for “airlock deliveries,” tap or click here.

Coronavirus freebies: Companies giving out free stuff right now, and how to get it

In the wake of COVID-19, many companies are offering special freebies and deals. From free software from Google and Microsoft to buy one get one free offers at Olive Garden, companies are trying to help. We did the research and put together a comprehensive list you’ll find on my site. Tap or click here to find some freebies you can use during this pandemic.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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