Can COVID-19 Spread Through Mail? One Microbiology Expert Says It’s Unlikely

WINTER PARK, Fla. — Two Winter Park U.S. Postal Service employees have recently tested positive for COVID-19. But with concerns over how easily the virus can spread, experts say it can’t spread through mail.

  • 2 Winter Park USPS employees recently tested positive for COVID-19
  • CDC: Currently no evidence the virus can spread through mail
  • COMPLETE COVERAGE: Spectrum News | CDC | Florida Dept. of Health

A USPS spokesperson told Spectrum News 13 one of those employee is a clerk at the Winter Park Post Office, while the other is a letter carrier.

Dr. Brendaliz Santiago-Narvaez, a Rollins College microbiology professor, says she’s not surprised the coronavirus has spread to postal workers because of how quickly the virus is spreading worldwide.

“It’s not something that alarms me, because we know how to clean things. Therefore, we have options with how to protect ourselves,” Santiago-Narvaez said.

The Centers for Disease Control is telling the United States Postal Service there’s currently no evidence the virus can spread through the mail.

“It’s actually unlikely that we would get infected by handling mail,” she said.

A March study by the New England Journal of Medicine looked at how long the virus can survive outside the body, Dr. Santiago-Narvaez said their results depend on the material.

“The survival of the virus on cardboard is about 24 hours. I would probably lump in paper in that same category,” she said.

Santiago-Narvaez said if it makes you more comfortable, grab a disinfectant wipe and wipe down your mail.

She even knows people who are leaving packages in their garage for 24 hours, just in case.

“Stainless steel, 72 hours, so that is a much longer period of time,” Santiago-Narvaez said.

She’s stressing the important of washing your hands after handling anything, so the virus can’t make itself at home in your body.

“Soap destroys that outer coat, without it, it can’t really do anything,” she said.

USPS said one employee has not returned to work, and the other remains quarantined until they’re medically cleared.

They believe the potential exposure to other employees at the Winter Park location is low.