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Is it Safe to Order Online During COVID-19?
 

As it becomes even more clear just how infectious COVID-19 is. Some shoppers have raised questions about the safety of receiving their online orders. Experts are finding that the virus can live on surfaces from three hours to up to three days, depending on the material. (Note that conclusive findings are difficult to come by in these early days of the virus. Experts continue their study of it, these numbers may change.). We ask that question. Is it Safe to Order Online During COVID-19?

That said, it’s unlikely that COVID-19 would survive on your purchased items from the time they were packed to the time you received your package. (especially with the slowdown in the delivery system) And shipping conditions make a tough environment for COVID-19 as well, so it’s not likely you’ll be exposed via the package itself, either. 

According to the CDC, “[T]here is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.” The CDC’s statement refers to packages that have been in shipment for at least several days and did not come into contact with any sources of contamination after packaging.

The World Health Organization addresses the concern as well, by saying that it is safe to receive packages from locations with reported COVID-19 cases. From their website: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low. And the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been exposed to different conditions is low.” 

Understanding Panic Buying and Coronavirus

Is it Safe to Order Online During COVID-19? – As news of COVID-19 spread and as it was officially declared a pandemic, people responded by stocking up. They bought out medical supplies like hand sanitizer and masks and household essentials like toilet paper and bread. Soon, both brick-and-mortar and online stores were struggling to keep up with demand, and price gouging for supplies became rampant.

Humans respond to crises in different ways. When faced with an uncertain, risky situation over which we have no control. We tend to try whatever we can to feel like we have some control.

Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London was quoted by CNBC as saying: “Panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychology needs.” These needs are autonomy (or the need to feel in control of your actions), relatedness (the need to feel that we are doing something to benefit our families), and competence (the need to feel like smart shoppers making the correct choice).

These psychological factors are the same reasons “retail therapy” is a response to many different types of personal crises; however, during a pandemic there are added layers.

One is that the global spread of COVID-19. It has been accompanied by a lot of uncertainty and at times contradictory information. When people are hearing differing advice from multiple sources, they have a greater instinct to over-, rather than under-, prepare.

Secondly, there is the crowd mentality. Seeing other people buying up the shelves and then seeing a scarcity of necessary products validates the decision to stock up. No one wants to be left behind without any resources.

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