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Face Coverings and Grocery Shopping

Face Coverings and Grocery Shopping  4/10/20Questions about masks and grocery shopping are the most common reason for calls I have been receiving lately.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, CDC is recommending cloth face coverings (masks) be used when we are in public settings where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing measures.  The use of masks is recommended IN ADDITION TO the personal hygiene, handwashing, and social distancing recommendations that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.

The reason for adding the recommendation of wearing a face covering is because a significant number of people who have coronavirus do not show any symptoms of it.  Even though they appear to be healthy, they can in fact still transmit the virus to others.

This is one time where we want to take it personally: if we feel and appear to be healthy, but have the virus and are just not showing any symptoms or are pre-symptomatic, we could still be transmitting the virus to others. In addition to practicing social distancing, wearing a face covering is one way we can protect others.

A variety of patterns for face coverings are available online, including sew and no-sew versions from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.  The U.S. Surgeon General provides a short demonstration online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html showing how to quickly and easily make a face covering using a clean t-shirt, towel, or bandana. 

Every time we stay out of public places we decrease our risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. But we have to eat, and for most people, that means we need groceries, and grocery stores are public places.

Going to the grocery store as infrequently as possible, and spending as little time there as possible when we do have to go, are key. 

To help reduce the number of trips you make to the grocery store, plan menus for several weeks.  Using canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables will reduce your need for fresh produce.  Look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label when buying canned vegetables. For canned fruit, avoid those that are in heavy syrup.  Instead, choose the ones canned in 100% juice or water.

Make one trip to get the needed groceries for several weeks of meals, or have the groceries delivered to your home, if that is an option.

To reduce the amount of time you will have to spend at the store, organize your list according to store aisles. This will prevent you from having to run from one end of the store to the other.

When you do go to the store, shop at times when the store is less likely to be crowded.  Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the shopping cart and basket handles, check-out counter, card-swipe key pad and pen.  Use hand sanitizer before you walk away from the checkout line or get into your vehicle, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and effectively with soap and warm water when you get home before and after you put away the groceries.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, even if their peel or skin will not be eaten, should be rinsed under running water, with friction, just before eating, and dried with a clean cloth or paper towel.  Melons, cucumbers and other firm produce should be scrubbed with a clean produce brush and then rinsed with running water. 

Soap, bleach, or commercial cleaning products should never be used when washing fresh produce. More strategies for planning meals, shopping, and safely handling foods are available online at https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/getting-groceries-during-quarantine?fbclid=IwAR222VirDWAdAIpt4U1aM8VxWKZh7_mDfEeftTyBEOIvcSS3Iv_FJRcTkzA

Photo Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-wearing-mask-in-supermarket-3962287/ (downloaded 4/15/20)

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