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COVID-19: Food Shopping Advice

Don’t squeeze the melons and other advice for people with rare and chronic diseases from an infectious disease expert.

Empty grocery store aisle COVID-19 pandemic

Buying food suddenly requires more thought than before. Will they have what you need? Is it safe to go into the store – a sometimes-crowded public place, where you could encounter the novel coronavirus we all want to avoid?

Bernhard Wiedermann, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., advises people who have rare and chronic diseases to stay out of the store. They could be at increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Instead, take advantage of online shopping and delivery, Dr. Weidermann said during a recent webinar presented by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).

If you must go to a store, go during hours set aside for people who are older or who have health conditions, he said. The fewer people in the store while you are there, the better. Wear a mask and gloves for additional protection, Weidermann said.

When you’re in the store, be quick and decisive. Don’t pick up cans to read the labels. Don’t squeeze the melons.

“Touch as little as possible. Avoid touching your face,” he said.

When running errands, like grocery shopping, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control also recommends that you:

  • Disinfect the grocery cart.
  • Stay at least six feet from other people.
  • Use touchless payment systems or wear gloves to touch keypads.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it after leaving the store.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.

Much has been said about whether people should disinfect groceries, but experts tend to discourage this. Frequent hand washing is recommended though, especially after putting the items away and before eating.