No need to stock up or disinfect your groceries

Crossposted from the Washington State Department of Health.

Grocery stores are open because they are essential businesses, but we still need to limit our time out of the house. Consider using grocery delivery services, or limit your grocery shopping to one trip a week.

COVID-19 is a new virus. It has been around for three months now, and we’re still learning a lot about it. One thing we know for sure is that it spreads easily from person to person through tiny droplets in the air after someone coughs or sneezes. Most of this spread happens when someone has symptoms, like a cough. These droplets can travel for up to six feet. It’s important that we don’t come within six feet of one another, so we don’t inhale any of those droplets if someone coughs.

It is possible for the virus to spread when someone doesn’t have symptoms, but this is not the main way it spreads. It is also possible for the virus to spread though droplets on hard surfaces, though this is also not the main way it spreads. That’s why it’s important that we wash our hands and try not to touch our faces, in case we touched a surface that had transmissible virus on it. If you wear gloves, touch a hard surface, and then touch your face with your gloved hands, the gloves have not protected you at all. If you don’t touch your face, you didn’t need the gloves. Just wash your hands.

We have no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is spreading through food at all. Not through take-out orders, groceries, or produce. When you return home from the grocery store, please thoroughly wash your hands, but there is no reason to try to disinfect your groceries. And please, don’t put disinfecting chemicals like household cleaners on the food you’re going to eat.

Speaking of groceries — agriculture and food production are also considered essential activities. This is to make sure food continues fill our grocery stores and food banks. Deliveries to grocery stores are continuing steadily, and farmers, ranchers, and food processors are producing plenty to meet our needs. There is no need to worry about shortages, and no need to stock up, other than to make sure you don’t have to leave the house more than once each week.

Practice compassion. While you are doing your once-a-week grocery shopping, is there something you can pick up for someone who cannot leave the house? Leave a bag on their porch, ring the bell, then run back to the side of the road to wave!