Grocery shopping is a vital chore that we must do every week or month to keep stock of food, as well as kitchen, home cleaning and laundry products and other essentials at home.
Of course, it goes without saying that doing this is now more vital in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the country, when home quarantining and social distancing measures are in place in all 50 states to contain or slow the spread of the virus, closing all businesses except for those providing valuable necessities for residents.
In Michigan, for example, heading to the grocery store is one of a few trips its residents should be making as a result of the state’s “stay-at-home” order — and it can pose risks as the virus continues its spread. As of Wednesday, there were 2,295 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, of which 43 have died.
Fortunately, as Michiganders have proven, there are ways to make grocery shopping safer as the pandemic sweeps throughout the country. In fact, Jeffrey VanWingen, a doctor at Family Medicine Specialists in Grand Rapids, MI, recently posted a video on YouTube advising residents on how to disinfect groceries.
“When you’re out in the store, it’s not just about wiping down the shopping cart handle with an antiseptic wipe,” he said. “We need to be better than that.” He then shared tips on how to shop safely:
- Wipe down the grocery cart using an antiseptic.
- Commit to buying an item before you touch it.
- If you have a respiratory illness or have been exposed to COVID-19, do not go to the supermarket.
- Avoid bringing reusable bags that are contaminated.
- If you have loved ones aged 60 and above, do not allow them to go to the supermarket; drop off disinfected groceries at their home.
- Plan to buy groceries that can cover up to two weeks to reduce shopping trips.
- Respect the store’s senior shopping hours.
- Practice social distancing — keep yourself six feet away from other shoppers.
- Do not return bottles.
- In place of (dirty) cash, use a credit or debit card for payment.
- Before you put your groceries away at home, disinfect them first.
In addition, you can use online grocery shopping and delivery services such as Amazon Fresh and Shipt to reduce your risk of exposure.
“Placing a grocery order online reduces the amount of interpersonal contact,” Shelie Miller, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability, who studies food supply chains, food waste and food’s environmental impact, said.
Unfortunately, “most online systems are not currently designed for the demand volumes that are being experienced and may be unable to keep up in the short term,” she said, adding that consumers may not be able to take advantage of online grocery delivery and pickup systems “until there is improved capacity to meet the high demand.”
“As the current stress on the food system decreases, I would expect online grocery options to become easier to schedule,” Miller said.