Helping you safely shop for groceries

There are a lot of changes to help stop Coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading and to keep you safe. For example, use Facetime or the Internet to see loved ones instead of in person. And wash your hands more often and for longer. How you shop for food or get your groceries has also changed. 

Here's what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is usually spread through respiratory droplets from person-to-person. It may also be possible for a person to come down with Coronavirus (COVID-19) by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

Below are ways to take extra steps when you're shopping for food. Plus,  ideas if you're not wanting to or able to cook. 

3 ways to help you shop safely for food

1. Take precautions at the grocery store

If you choose to go to the grocery store, there are some ways to help you stay safe from Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Before leaving your house, make a shopping list so you go in the store and come back out. Staying away from public places is best. Many stores have hand sanitizer and paper towels near the carts so you can wipe them down as well as spray your hands. You may also want to think about wearing a cloth face mask that covers your mouth and nose. The Center for Disease Control and Preventinon (CDC) says it's best to do this. 
  • At the store, clean the cart with a disinfectant wipe. Don't stand close to others or walk too close to them inside the store. Stay about two carts apart, especially in the checkout line. Also, try not to touch your face or mask.
  • When you're back inside your car, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, wipe down what you bought. Don’t forget to wipe down the counter after you’ve put away your groceries.

2. Order groceries online

Certain stores offer grocery delivery or pick-up. This might have a fee and it may take longer to get your groceries. They may have a more limited selection and waiting lists. However, it may be the safest way to get what you need while staying home. Check to see if your grocery store does this. Other ideas are ordering from home-cooked meal companies that deliver ingredients in a box that you can cook yourself.

  • When your food is delivered, you may want to wipe down the packaged goods with one of the CDC-recommended disinfectants, like chlorine bleach, iodine or quaternary ammonium solution. You may also want to soak your produce in two parts water and one-part apple cider vinegar.

3. Consider ordering takeout from restaurants

Ordering takeout is also a great option to get cooked meals while supporting your favorite restaurants. Order online or over the phone and check for delivery or curbside pick-up options.

  • When your food arrives, consider wiping down the containers. As long as the container is impermeable or nonabsorbent, like plastic, polystyrene or waxed cardboard, wiping it down will help disinfect it.
  • You can also transfer the food to a new dish, throw away the to-go box and wash your hands before eating.

Ask for help if you're at high risk

If you fall into a Coronavirus (COVID-19) high-risk category as determined by the CDC (over age 60 and/or have a chronic condition or you’re immune compromised), consider, if possible, asking someone else to shop for you or using the delivery services.

It’s an uncertain time, but hopefully taking these extra steps and precautions will help you stay healthier. Remember that COVID-19 recommendations and restrictions are evolving, so please check with the CDC and your local government to stay up to date. 

Contributed by Dr. Jennifer Hone, Medical Director of Case Management, Optum Health

Dr. Hone is a Board Certified Endocrinologist, in practice since 1994. Her training began with a BA in Human Physiology/ Anatomy from the University of California, Berkeley. She attended medical school at George Washington University, then internal medicine Residency at the University of Colorado. Her Fellowship training was completed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a focus on the genetics of Type 2 Diabetes.

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