Grocery Shopping During COVID-19
1.) Limit Trips
This first tip kind of goes without saying, but the more trips out and about you make and people you encounter, the more exposed you are to the possibility of contact with COVID-19. It comes down to odds, really. This concern is why the Wyoming Governor, Mark Gordon, as well as other county and local officials have asked us to please limit trips and to stay in as much as we are able. The more trips you take out into the community - especially non-essential trips - the more likely you are to come into contact with someone who is symptomatic or the virus on surfaces.
For the grocery store, this means changing some of our buying habits. Before the pandemic, we may have shopped per meal or made a run for smaller sized purchases as the need arose in our day. With the onset of community spread in our town, we must change our buying habits to be more in line with getting what we need per week versus the next couple of days; and making those supplies we have, last.
2.) Send One Person In Your Home
The more people in your home going to the store, the more likely your family will encounter community spread. Elect one member of your household who will be your grocery shopper. This person can maintain the best practices of washing or sanitizing their hands, wearing a face-covering or mask, maintaining social distancing while shopping, and especially develop a routine when going out for essential items for your household.
Grocery shopping is a team effort. When this person returns, be ready to assist them with transporting, cleaning, and wiping down items safely!
3.) Wear Masks, Have Sanitizing Wipes, Maintain Social Distancing
Your grocery shopper should have some tools at their disposal to help protect them and those in your home from any possible spread. When shopping, use a face mask or cover. For best protection, make sure it covers the mouth and nose. It should fit snugly but not so tight as to restrict airflow. If homemade, masks or covering should be constructed with tightly woven cotton fabrics - 300 thread count.
As an additional precaution, those who are the designated shopper should wipe down their cart or other items they are using while shopping with sanitizing wipes. Throughout their time shopping, they should also try to refrain from touching their face. Especially try not to touch any area on the face classified as a mucus membrane - eyes, nose, or mouth.
While the grocery store is often a great place to catch up with those we know or haven’t seen in some time, this pandemic changes the social nature of shopping. We need to maintain a safe distance of at least six feet while retrieving essential items in the store. Best practices also include not standing in the same place for a lengthy amount of time to chat.
4.) Only Touch What You Intend To Buy
Limiting your exposure includes only handling items you are going to buy. The more hands on things in the store, the more the possibility of transferring or participating in community spread. This practice isn’t just concerning COVID-19, but any infectious disease. COVID-19 has been estimated to survive on non-porous surfaces (like say that bag of chips or bottle of soda or gallon of milk) for about 72 hours. Porous surfaces, the virus has been noted to survive for 24 hours.
So a scenario could follow that someone is in the store, who is a-symptomatic (meaning they have the virus and haven’t displayed symptoms) or is experiencing symptoms but doesn’t know it is COVID-19. They cough or sneeze into their hands and touch many items, or cough or sneeze onto those items while holding. The virus then can then live on that item for 1-3 days. Gross right?
5.) Sanitize and/or Wipe Down All Items Before They Come In The Home
Goes without saying, but if we have community spread occurring in our towns, we should take an extra step and wipe down items as they come home from the store or sanitize produce. While our grocery stores are taking ample precautions to clean their stores habitually, we should all do our part to limit the spread of these viruses into our homes.
A safe mental view of this process is to imagine one item you purchased has possibly come in contact with the virus - you don’t know which one. Transporting these items home should be done in your trunk or another area away from the passenger cabin of your vehicle. If you have an SUV, try to use storage containers or coolers that seal the items inside while you drive.
Returning home, remember that those non-porous items can keep the virus on them for up to 72 hours. If the item can stay outside and it won’t spoil, leave it in a safe and secure place. If it is perishable here are some simple tips for sanitizing or wiping these items down:
- Plastic Covered Items or Containers - wipe down with sanitizing wipes or sanitizing solution. Be sure to allow this to dry completely before moving indoors.
- Produce - keep in plastic or paper bags. Place in a larger container to transport indoors. Prepare a solution of water and vinegar (1 cup white vinegar to 4 cups water). Using gloves, remove from their bags or containers, and either wash in the solution or spray each item. Dry with a clean paper towel. Place in clean storage - either in your cabinet or refrigerator. Take storage container back outside.
Wipe the soles of any shoes that went to the store with an antibacterial wipe or spray with a cleaning solution. Leave outside in the garage or other area, if at all possible. If you have a steamer, this can also work to kill germs on clothes and shoes. Upon returning home, wash those hands!
By taking the time and consideration to shop safely and keep an awareness of our habits, we can all limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We each have the power to protect ourselves, our families, and our community from further illness if we all do our part!