Dana, thanks for your comment, and I’m so happy to hear you’re doing well after your liver transplant. It sounds like you Denveradoes are doing a great job of staying safe.

If you feel better wiping down your groceries and purchases, by all means, keep doing it. Sometimes the mental health aspect of the stuff we do is more important than anything else. But if you want an excuse to stop doing that, I’m happy to give you one.

There’s an extremely low likelihood of picking up any meaningful quantity of active virus from cardboard, clothes, paper, grocery store produce, grocery bags, etc. I rinse my produce with warm water, just a basic rinse to remove debris and chemical residues, like I’ve always done. I don’t wipe down my groceries with Lysol, and I don’t wipe down mail and packages, but I do wash my hands after putting away groceries and after opening mail.

Remember that the presence of the virus is not the primary problem. The primary problem is getting a critical mass of active virions into your eyes, nose or mouth. That is what is required for infection. I don’t intend to put my cereal box in my mouth, and I wash my hands before I sit down to eat. So wiping down groceries and packages seems to me to be a misunderstanding of the need for and effectiveness of hand washing.

This article is kind of dense, but it’s a great run-down of the actual science behind why we shouldn’t be too afraid of virus in the air or on our groceries: https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/16/coronavirus-can-become-aerosol-doesnt-mean-doomed/

I’m thinking maybe I should put a photo of my transplant doctor up on my refrigerator now. They are definitely heroes!

A.M. Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. She writes about philosophy, science, politics and current events.

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