Though we hear on the news and read online that the coronavirus can only be spread by sneezing or coughing, we can't help but worry if it's necessary for us to remove our clothes and shoes after running an errand, or if we should thoroughly disinfect our mail and deliveries before bringing them inside the house. In this article from the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope took questions from readers and reached out to experts to get informed and honest information and advice.
All experts agree that washing our hands is the most important precaution to take when returning from running an errand, but social distancing makes it unnecessary to change clothes or shower because unless someone is close enough to sneeze or cough on us, it is unlikely droplets will land on our clothes or hair. The virus lives on cardboard for up to 24 hours, while it lives up to three days on hard metal and plastic surfaces. Like cardboard, fabrics are more porous and will likely dry out the virus to allow it to decay more quickly. As far as laundry is concerned, washing "your clothes in regular laundry detergent, following the fabric instructions, followed by a stint in the dryer is more than enough to remove the virus — if it was even there in the first place." However, we should take special precautions if laundering items for a sick person. When handling mail and packages, they advise that we wash our hands immediately after handling those items and let them sit for 24 hours.
Going outside to walk the dog or exercise during the pandemic is generally low risk, so long as we remember to socially distance from others. Recently, reports indicated that the coronavirus and other nasty bugs stick to the soles of shoes of health care workers, but their concentrations were high due to their work in hospitals and clinics. To avoid trekking any bacteria or viruses into our homes, we can simply remove our shoes prior to entry or launder them, if they are washable.