As people continue to stay home to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, celebrating Mother's Day will look a little different this year. If you're thinking of sending a gift to show your mom how much you appreciate her, you might be wondering if it's safe to send your mom flowers for Mother’s Day 2020. Since you want to keep your mom's safety a priority during this time, it makes sense to approach something as simple as a flower delivery with a little more caution than usual.
Thankfully, the current understanding of how the novel coronavirus spreads bodes well for the prospect to treat your mom (or the mother figure in your life) to a pretty bouquet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the novel coronavirus is thought to spread through respiratory droplets during person-to-person contact, and the risk of spreading the virus through products or packaging is very low, "when goods are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures."
There's no specific mention of possible transmission of the novel coronavirus through flowers on the CDC website, but if you look at the the guidance regarding food, another category of perishables, you can glean some insight. As of April 28, the CDC hasn't found evidence to support transmission of the virus associated with food. Dr. Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Ph.D, a preparedness fellow at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells Elite Daily, "There is no evidence regarding coronavirus being transmitted on flowers."
If any risk exists, it's likely due to the packaging. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on March 17, the novel coronavirus can be active for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, under 24 hours on cardboard, and under four hours on copper, but that doesn't mean that you'll contract the virus by coming into contact with a possibly infected surface. Piltch-Loeb explains, "If the virus was on a package you sent, whether it was sent in cardboard or plastic, it would likely break down as it traveled through unstable conditions like the heat and cold in a truck or plane."
Even though sending flowers presents a low risk of transmitting the virus through the delivery, you can take steps to make sure the process is a safe as possible. Before the package even arrives, there are also steps taken to protect employees and the public. Piltch-Loeb explains, "Companies often use automated warehouses for shipping, and even when your packages are packed by an individual, companies are taking precautions with employees who may load packages, like requiring the use of masks and increasing sanitation procedures."
When it's time to accept the flowers, it's best to request a no-contact delivery method, like simply dropping the flowers off on a porch or stoop, to maintain social distancing and avoid person-to-person contact. Dr. Piltch-Loeb recommends the same precautions you would take when receiving any package during this time. "Out of an abundance of caution, it makes sense for your mom to wash her hands before opening the package, wash her hands again after opening, and then remove the item from the package," she says. In addition, your mom will want to wash her hands before and after arranging the flowers, and avoid touching her face after handling anything from outside.
The precautions might seem like a bit much, but Dr. Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, previously told Elite Daily, you should maintain a sense of "heightened awareness" with regard to anything you touch. Racaniello explained, "Everything you touch is potentially contaminated." He suggests you immediately throw away any outside packaging, and of course wash your hands.
When you decide to place an order for flowers, you should consider ordering directly from florists in your community in order to support local businesses during this time. It's also good to tip your delivery person well, if you're able, in order to thank them for putting themselves at risk. Even if you can't be with your mom to celebrate Mother's Day, you can rest assured knowing you can keep her safe and still show you care, with a special flower delivery.
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.
Dr. Rachael Piltch-Loeb, Ph.D, MPH, preparedness fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Dr. Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D, Higgins professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University