Can COVID-19 be Transmitted on Printed Newspapers?

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I suspect that many of you are getting questions about the safety of the printed newspaper during this COVID-19 crisis.  I wanted to pass along some information that may be helpful.

The World Health Organization addresses the safety of packages and commercial goods in the following Q & A.  The second to last question in this link:  https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses explains the low risk of commercial products as a vector for the virus.  I have cut and pasted the Q & A below. 

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. 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 moved, traveled and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

The Centers for Disease Control has provided the same “low risk” guidance for packages and imported goods:

There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV). The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, we can use the information gained from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, 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. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website as it becomes available.

Many newspapers have distributed communications to their subscribers addressing safety and other issues.  Below is a very good communication from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dear Valued Subscriber,

I am writing to share an update on the proactive measures we have taken to ensure the safety of the AJC's journalists and all those who work behind the scenes to print and deliver the news to you. Especially in times of crisis like the one we are experiencing together, we recognize the essential role we play to help keep our community informed and safe. We want to assure you that we are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while we continue to serve you.

Our journalists, along with the majority of our workforce, are online from their homes or outside the office to keep everyone healthy so we can continue to work on your behalf. Our journalists who are out in public gathering the news are taking additional precautions to stay healthy. You will hear more about our newsroom's efforts in a column our editor, Kevin Riley, is writing for our Sunday newspaper.

For production employees as well as our newspaper delivery team, whose jobs require them to be at our printing and distribution facilities, we are implementing several ongoing safety measures, including disinfecting production equipment and using gloves and hand sanitizer to prevent any potential spread of infection.

We also recognize you may have questions about the safety of mail/packages, and that would certainly apply to print newspapers. According to guidance from Cox Enterprises, our parent company, and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), a highly credible source of factual information, 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 moved, traveled and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low. This would apply to newspapers as well.

That said, I know we are living in extraordinary times and understand you may prefer to read The Atlanta Journal‑Constitution via our e‑edition. You can also access our complete coverage on AJC.com which continues to be updated throughout the day. For any customer service requests, visit myaccount.ajc.com, email customercare@ajc.com or call our customer care team at 404‑522‑4141.

You are forefront in our minds as we navigate these uncharted waters together, and we are committed to our mission to keep you informed with print and digital coverage that is credible, compelling and complete. Thank you very much for your support of our journalism. I hope you and your family remain safe during this public health issue that is affecting all aspects of our lives and community.

Sincerely,
Donna Hall
Publisher, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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