COVID-19 may have locked many of us away in our homes, but we still need to eat. Basic essentials from the grocery store are a must for everyone, but going grocery shopping can be a bit daunting in these times.
The White House has issued recommendations to “avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people,” among other guidelines. Furthermore, we are encouraged to practice social distancing if we must go out, meaning we should keep a distance of at least six feet away from others and avoid contact of any kind.
We can take steps to prepare ourselves for the task of shopping during a pandemic and help reduce everyone’s risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus.
Before heading to the store, determine your own risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that people in certain groups have an increased risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.
This includes people with asthma, diabetes and HIV/AIDS or who are otherwise immunocompromised. So, if you fall into one of these groups, opt instead for a contactless delivery service. Or, enlist the help of a trusted friend to shop for you. Alternatively, if you have contact with someone who is at a higher risk, you must take extra precautions or even avoid contact with them altogether to be on the safe side.
We may not be able to stop by the store anymore on the way home to pick up a few things or simply browse. So, be prepared ahead of time for your trip. Take inventory of what you need and make a list. You should plan to have a few weeks of supplies in the event that you do get sick and must quarantine completely.
However, being prepared doesn’t mean hoarding supplies. Buy what you need, within reason, and do it quickly – get in, get out. Also, try to go when the store is less crowded. If you notice a large crowd upon your arrival, consider postponing your shopping if you can.
Practice excellent hygiene. Remember the basics your mother told you about, like washing your hands and not touching your face? You’re going to want to ramp up those efforts.
Wash your hands before you begin shopping and don’t touch your face under any circumstances while you’re out and about. Having hand sanitizer is ideal, especially after using cash, self-checkouts or payment touchpads. Once you get home, wash your hands again before putting away your groceries. Then, again after you’ve finished. We can’t stress this enough.
Some sources have suggested you, for an extra measure of protection, disinfect your canned goods and dry packaged products with sanitizing wipes. (However, that may not be necessary.) It’s a good move to sanitize the surfaces that have seen any action since you’ve returned from the store. Anything you, the bags or the groceries have touched can use a good cleaning.
The CDC has officially recommended that anyone venturing out, especially to a public area, wear a mask. You don’t need a surgical mask. A simple cotton or wool covering made from a bandana will do the trick. You can easily make your own face cover at home.
Although this might not prevent you from contracting the coronavirus, it can protect against transmission from those who are asymptomatic. We know that you don’t have to look or feel sick to have COVID-19, and if you are possibly a carrier, you can protect against the spread of the virus by covering your face when you go out. This benefits all of us in the long run.
Practice social distancing while shopping. Don’t stand too close to people and try to avoid face-to-face contact. The CDC recommends these guidelines for social distancing. If you do need to cough or sneeze, cover your face with your elbow and turn away from any people or things that are nearby.Be patient and kind.
This is a difficult time for all of us, and kindness goes a long way. Be courteous and grateful to the grocery store workers – if you are worried about getting sick on a grocery run, imagine how they must feel every day. If we all work to be considerate of one another and follow the recommended guidelines, hopefully together we can “flatten the curve” and get through this crisis.