The weather is getting warmer and Mother's Day is quickly approaching, but your favorite spring and summer moments will probably look different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassing 1.1 million in the United States alone as of May 5, you'll likely have to forego your typical Mother's Day plans. You may not be able to have an in-person celebration with your loved ones, but there are still creative ways to honor the maternal figures in your life. Here's how to safely drop off Mother's Day gifts during quarantine, according to experts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise against traveling to visit friends and family during the pandemic, because it could put you all at risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus. That doesn't mean you can't still give your mom a gift for Mother's Day, though. Dr. John Swartzberg, MD, FACP, an infectious disease specialist at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, tells Elite Daily that you can drop off a gift for your mom as long as you take some precautions.
The giver should "make sure that they wash their hands very carefully before wrapping the gifts so that the outside paper to the gift, they can be comfortable that it’s not contaminated," Swartzberg says. "If they have to carry it in a bag, they should put it in a bag that they know is not contaminated." For example, you could put your gift in a paper bag that's been sitting out for more than day that nobody has touched, Swartzberg says.
Swartzberg points to an April 2020 study published by The New England Journal of Medicine, which found that the coronavirus did not stay viable on cardboard for more than 24 hours. Because the virus can survive for different amounts of time on different types of surfaces, Rachael Piltch-Loeb, a preparedness fellow at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, recommends that you also take steps to protect yourself when you're dropping off the gift.
"Wear a mask when handling and dropping off the gift, wash your hands before picking it up and placing it outside," Piltch-Loeb says. Unless you live with your mom, don't hand the package to her directly. Instead, give her a call and let her know that she has a surprise waiting outside.
There are also some precautions your mom should take when she opens the door to retrieve the gift, Piltch-Loeb adds. Namely, she should wash her hands before and after opening the package, before actually touching the gift inside. "This way your mom is not spreading the virus to the item itself," says Piltch-Loeb.
This advice applies not only to packages but also to cards, flowers, or any other gifts. Throughly and frequently washing your hands will protect you both, and you and your mom should both avoid touching your faces after dropping off gifts or bringing things in from outside the house. Swartzberg also recommends that your mom throw any wrapping paper away, wipe off her gift with a disinfectant wipe if possible, and wash her hands before doing anything else. Even if you take all the necessary precautions while delivering the gift, Swartzberg says, "the recipient should assume it is contaminated anyway" just to be safe.
Don't forget, too, that social distancing rules still apply if you're dropping off a gift for your mom. You should avoid touching her door if you can, and you should stay outside and keep at least six feet of distance between you and your mom when she comes out to retrieve her gift. Even if you've practiced social distancing for awhile, Swartzberg recommends maintaining this distance between yourself and your loved ones because you've likely still had to go the grocery store, run errands, or otherwise interact with others. So even though Mother's Day is coming up, it is unwise to linger for a hug or head inside for a family celebration. If you really want to celebrate the holiday together, "there are strategies to find a happy medium between observing social distancing and seeing family," per Piltch-Loeb.
"For example, take a socially distanced walk outside in a large park or have a picnic and each bring your own food or pre-portioned meals," Piltch-Loeb says. "This will make it easier to not share dishes and utensils." You can also host a family video call, virtual brunch, or wine tasting to celebrate your loved ones from afar.
This Mother's Day may be unconventional, but it's important to adapt to the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic. As long as you follow CDC guidelines — frequently wash your hands with soap and water, stay at home when sick, and maintain social distancing — there's no reason you can't safely drop a gift off for your mom, but just make sure you're careful so you don't put you or your loved ones at risk.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.
Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Ph.D, preparedness fellow at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health
John Swartzberg, MD, FACP, clinical professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health's Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology