Woman with shopping cart loading groceries in car

It takes planning, precaution and patience when shopping in the ‘new normal’

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During these unprecedented times, shopping for life’s essentials takes some planning, a little creativity and definitely precautions to limit your and your family’s risk of exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

And as stores begin restricting the number of people allowed inside at one time, there’s one more thing shopping requires during these times … patience.

“It’s not a family trip. It’s not a family outing,” Lori Grooms, director of Prevention Control for OSF HealthCare reminded. “You never know who you’re going to come into contact with. The person who could be shopping an aisle over, or in the same aisle as you, could have COVID-19 and you don’t know it.

“When you have to go shopping, take a safe stance and limit it to just one person from the household.”

And planning is vital, Grooms said.

“When we go to the grocery story, we should have a plan in mind of what we need and what we want, and we should really be shopping for about a two-week timeframe so we’re not having to go out to the grocery store every day,” she said. “Every time we go out, that’s one increased exposure. We want to be able to end social distancing as soon as we can, and the only way to do that is stay at home.”

Tips for shopping in the ‘new normal’

Grooms and other sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration, offer the following tips for shopping during these times:

    Shopping cart with hand sanitizer and a laptop

  • Order your groceries to be picked up or have them delivered to your home to limit your exposure.
  • If you do go to the grocery store, practice social distancing by keeping six feet between you and others.
  • When you go out, the CDC now recommends wearing a cloth mask in public settings where social distancing can be difficult to maintain.
  • Shop at non-peak times, and go solo.
  • Keep your phone in your pocket or leave it at home. Use a paper grocery list.
  • Perform hand hygiene by wiping down the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe (Hint: make a small packet of wipes using a zip-top bag so you have them in case the store is out of wipes by the carts). Clean your hands with the wipe and throw it away.
  • Use hand sanitizer often as you make your way through the store getting the things on your list.
  • When checking out, keep your distance from the clerk to protect you both. Use one of your home-packaged wipes to touch the pin pad when paying with plastic.
  • Man in gloves wiping down tabletop with disinfectant

  • After loading everything in your vehicle, wipe down your hands and apply hand sanitizer before touching the steering wheel.
  • When you get home and unload your groceries, wash your hands thoroughly before unpacking your bags.
  • The CDC does not recommend wiping down each grocery item once you’re home, but clean your hands again after unpacking the groceries.
  • Clean the kitchen surfaces you touched during the unpacking, including countertops, cabinet handles, refrigerator and freezer handles and any light switches.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables like you normally would.

Continue with hand hygiene

Grooms hopes diligent hand hygiene lasts beyond this “new normal” we all are experiencing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I hope that hand hygiene, and making sure we’re cleaning our fresh fruits and vegetables, and making sure we are cooking food to the right temperature and washing our hands as we prepare food, I hope that becomes what we just normally do,” she said. “I’m wiping off our counters with a disinfectant before we begin to prepare foods and then I’m wiping it off with water to remove any residue. You know, that’s what we should have been doing all along, and that’s what we need to continue to do.”

Last Updated: April 8, 2020

About Author: Lisa Coon

Lisa Coon is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since August 2016.  A Peoria native, she is a graduate of Bradley University with a degree in journalism. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at several newspapers in Iowa and Illinois.

She lives in Groveland with her husband and son. In her free time she likes to cook, bake and read. She freely admits that reality TV is a weakness, and she lives by the quote, “The beach is good for the soul.”

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Categories: COVID-19, Diet & Exercise