Online shopping in the age of COVID-19: Package safety and delivery concerns

COVID-19 has turned online shopping in our community upside down. Here are two key questions:

  • Are packages delivered to our homes safe from COVID-19?
  • How long is it now taking to pick up or deliver online orders?

Are delivered packages safe from COVID-19?

There is no simple, single answer. But the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) both agree the risk of getting COVID-19 from those packages is “likely low.”

From the CDC:

“… There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.”

From WHO:

“… The risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

To be on the safe side, here is what Amazon spokesman Jay Carney recommends:

“…Customers should take appropriate measures if they are concerned about the possible transmission of the virus. That includes wiping down packages with sanitizer, or placing them in a separate room for a matter of time…”

Some media sources suggest that we let delivered packages sit in the garage or laundry room for 24-48 hours before they are opened.

For more information on deliveries and your safety, go to:

Centers for Disease Control:

U.S. Postal Service:




How long is it now taking to pick up or deliver online orders?

It is taking longer — sometimes several days longer — to get online orders,  or even to schedule pick-up orders.

In the last month, Walmart and Target report downloads of their online shopping apps have exploded — from about 25,000 new downloads a day to 50,000 a day now — and that just covers those two chains.

On it’s webpage, Safeway states: “Due to high demand, please reserve a time before you start online shopping.”

QFC’s website warn customers: “… you may experience longer wait lines, delayed deliveries or limited inventory.” Our family submitted an online order at QFC’s sister chain, Fred Meyer, on Sunday. We cannot pick it up until Wednesday — the first time a pick-up slot was open.

Amazon and Instacart told Forbes Magazine:

“… Inventory and delivery may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand. Instacart — which handles delivery for Costco, Aldi and other grocery stores — also alerted customers that due to high demand, some items may be out of stock and delivery windows may be impacted.”

Amazon has also warned customers that is prioritizing orders for the “most essential” items in warehouses and delaying deliveries on non-essential orders into late April.

These are just some of the new local reality as we navigate online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Story and photos by Bob Throndsen






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