I-TEAM: Skyrocketing e-commerce raises questions about safe packaging

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The coronavirus outbreak has caused a surge in online shopping and a rise in questions about the safety of the packages arriving doorsteps.

The government’s message is clear: stay at home, work at home and avoid going out in public. And as more people follow the recommendation from the CDC, more of them are turning to online shopping for food and supplies.

It's no surprise that the doors at the Bobby Pin Salon are locked, as the salon closed Saturday. The employees have no choice but to stay home.

“I have a lot of clients that are immune-compromised and over 60 and it was in my opinion not worth the risk of getting out in the public,” Kristen Callaway said.

Callaway, a microblade and makeup artist, stopped seeing clients even before the shop shut down. She’s on week two and has not worked and having to support three kids.

Taking trips outside to get the essentials they need is difficult.

“I have only been going out to the grocery store to get food for my family,” Carraway said.

So like many others around the county, Carraway was using Amazon to help.

“You know that is a really tricky thing because before all this happened I used Amazon daily,” she said. But now she orders less. “I would say less. I would say less. We are really trying to minimize our expenditures because when I am out of work I am not making money but also limit our exposure kind of a double whammy there.”

E-commerce levels have skyrocketed since the coronavirus outbreak. Amazon announced it needed an additional 100,000 workers in warehouse and delivery just to keep up with the demand.

At least eight Amazon workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in warehouses throughout the U.S.

“Now that they have said people have tested positive working in the Amazon distribution center, so what I have been doing is using Lysol wipes to wipe my mailbox but also anything that comes in,” Carraway said.

The New England Journal of Medicine found the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. The virus would most likely die on a box before it was delivered. The bigger risk: plastic packaging. Viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application.

“I’ve been spraying it with Lysol or hydrogen peroxide,” Carraway said.

She’s not taking any chances when it comes to clients or her family.

Health experts also suggest opening packages outside and using wipes or some sort of disinfectant to wipe down the inside packaging. Finally, washing hands when you are done. Dispose of the box right away too.

Right now, health risks are very low when it comes to contracting the virus from a package, but health experts say it’s always best to minimize even the smallest of risks.

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