The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed shopping habits. Gone are the days of simply running to the store to grab something. Now, we hesitate before a trip to the grocery, exercising caution in the frequency in which we shop, and how we shop.
In an attempt to address mounting public concerns, people have taken to the web to offer up suggestions for shopping safety. Some are factual, others not so much. And there are those that skew toward unusual, like leaving packages in your garage for a week before bringing them inside.
We wanted to know which advice to trust and which to toss, so we reached out to our own expert to separate fact from fiction – Joseph Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth’s system medical director of infectious diseases. He began by dispelling the garage theory, saying, “While there are studies that show the new coronavirus can survive on certain surfaces for long periods, we don’t yet have a complete understanding of what that means.”
Gastaldo says it’s best to follow this simple rule: Get in, get your food and get out.
Here are a few ideas to help you with this less is more approach on your next grocery run.
Trips to the store
Plan ahead and try to buy as much as you can in one trip. It’s best to shop for a few weeks of groceries, versus just a single week.
Handling of the products
Only touch the products you intend to buy, particularly produce. “That’s because to infect someone, the coronavirus needs to come into contact with certain receptors inside your body, which means getting it on your hands can be a way of transmission,” says Gastaldo.
Wash up before you shop
This cannot be emphasized enough! Hand-washing interrupts the chain reaction, should you touch your eyes, your nose or your mouth. Gastaldo says, “If you can block the chain, you’re not going to get the infection.”
Map out your trip
Most of us are creatures of habit, so we know our grocery store layout fairly well. Writing your grocery list in the order of the store layout can help you get in and out quicker.
Check out technology
The handheld scanners some grocery chains offer are a convenient way to limit interaction with others, especially those who may handle your groceries. It can also expedite your time in the store. Groceries are diligent about disinfecting these devices and offer wipes at the scanning station for extra precaution.
More people are heading to their laptops instead of the grocery aisle to help with social distancing. Major retailers like Amazon, Target and large grocery chains are moving swiftly to accommodate this need. And don’t forget your local retailers, too! They are adapting quickly and offering curbside pickup to meet their neighbors’ needs.
These tips above should help keep your food sources safe by supporting social distancing. Gastaldo added that, along with social distancing, hand-washing is one of your best lines of defense.