By Kevin O’Connor
Lockdown or not, everyone needs to go to the supermarket.
Or do they?
The government doesn’t appear certain. At one of the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings held last week, experts warned against going to the supermarket or drug store – at least more than is absolutely necessary – as the pandemic appears to peak.
“This is the moment not to be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe,” said response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. “We as Americans should be doing everything possible. And what I meant was, if you can consolidate, if you can send one person — the entire family doesn’t need to go out on these occasions. This is a highly transmittable virus.”
Manhattan epidemiologist Dr. Jiyoung Ahn told the New York Post recently that “The problem is that people have to eat. I agree with the White House directive to avoid going out shopping as much as you can, but in many cases, it is unavoidable.”
Though unavoidable, Ahn said, there are ways that New Yorkers can minimize the risk of heading out for groceries. For example:
* Go less frequently. “People should plan their once-every-10-days (or more) visit to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Gristedes or wherever with military precision, says Ahn, who is also the associate director of population science at the NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center.”
Rigorously planning meals several days in advance means no additional trips out of the house will be needed for forgotten ingredients. Inside stores, women are well advised to shop more like men, quickly going from listed item to listed item and getting out as quickly as possible.
* Have groceries brought to your door. “If possible, using a delivery service will help you stay inside. Some users report success with popular grocery delivery services such as Fresh Direct by placing orders in the middle of the night. Other services to try out include Instacart, Amazon Fresh and Peapod, though you may experience delays. Mercato is offering free delivery for those 60 years or older with the code OVER60,” the Post reported. (For the full story, check out the Post’s report at https://nypost.com/2020/04/06/a-comprehensive-guide-to-avoiding-the-grocery-store-and-pharmacy/.)
Dr. Ravinder Khaira in Sacramento, CA, told ABC News that “First and foremost, we’ll need to socially distance” when going shopping. “What’s been most successful for my wife and I is that we pause and give everybody the right of way.”
“Shoppers should wash their hands and wipe down the handles of shopping carts when entering a store, said Khaira. You should do the same when you exit the store as well,” abc10.com reported. “Khaira also urges people not to touch their faces. You can wear a cloth mask, he said. Although, it may not protect you from the virus itself, it’s a reminder not to touch your face. You should shop alone rather than with your family. This will help prevent any unnecessary exposure to other family members.”