August 10, 2020
In December, 2019 I wrote an article entitled Handwashing, God’s Work, Our Hands! The need for handwashing never changes and we certainly are reminded daily in the climate of COVID – 19 of the importance of handwashing. This article however is not just about handwashing! It is about ALL that we can do to prevent the spread of COVID – 19 as we work to prevent ourselves and others from being infected with the Coronavirus.
This morning I found a new reminder (July 30, 2020) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to be safe when running essential errands. I have added my pointers from observations that I have made in the community while I have tried to shop without exposing myself to the virus.
Grocery and Other Essential Store Shopping
- Stay home if you are sick! If you have been ill with Corvid – 19 you must follow the CDC guidelines about isolating yourself from others for 10 days or after that until you have been free of fever for 24 hours.
- Order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup if possible.
- Only visit the grocery store or other stores selling household essentials in person when you absolutely need to. This will limit your potential exposure to others and the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you have to go out in public. If you cannot wear a mask due to “medical reasons” you need to stay out of stores and stay home where it is safe. There is always the option of ordering on-line.
- When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night) and wear your mask with no excuses.
- When visiting a store, check to see if store employees are wearing masks, is the store allowing customers to come in with no masks, are there signs posted regarding social distancing and mask wearing. If you enter a small store and it is crowded with people, leave the store rather than taking a chance on potentially exposing yourself to the virus.
- If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours.
- Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.
- Use hand sanitizer after leaving the store.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and use sanitizer on any areas that you have touched before washing your hands.
- Follow food safety guidelines on caring for your food once you get it home. There is no evidence that food or food packaging play a significant role in spreading the virus in the Unites States but using safety precautions is a good strategy.
Deliveries and Takeout
- Pay online or on the phone when ordering if possible.
- Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.
- After receiving your delivery or bringing home your takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Bank on line whenever possible.
- Ask about options for telephone or virtual meetings to use banking services.
- Use drive-thru banking services, automated teller machines (ATM), or mobile banking apps for routine transactions that do not require face-to-face assistance as much as possible.
- Look for any extra prevention practices being implemented by the bank, such as plexiglass barriers for tellers or bankers, staff wearing masks, or physical distancing signs in the lobby.
- Wear a mask when doing any in-person exchanges and unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people – and make sure that bank employees and other people inside the bank are also wearing cloth face coverings.
- Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after any deposit, withdrawal, exchange, drive-thru visit, or use of an ATM.
- Wash your hands thoroughly when you arrive home or to your destination where a restroom is available.
- Use disinfectant on handles and buttons before you touch them.
- After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home or to your destination where a restroom is available.
If you are a good steward of following the guidelines from experts for staying safe from COVID – 19, you are doing God’s Work. We all have a very large responsibility not only in protecting ourselves but also others in our home and community from a COVID – 19 illness. Your efforts with your hands, heart, and mind can go far to save your life and the life of many others.
Reference: Running Essential Errands: Grocery Shopping, Take-Out, Banking and Getting Gas, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), cdc.gov, Updated July 30, 2020.
Cornelia Pearson, RN, MN
Member, St. Andrew Lutheran Church
Franklin, TN 37027