Crow Wing County offers recommendations to protect residents against the spread of the coronavirus while shopping for groceries.

Before venturing to the store, the county recommends:

  • Consider whether you really need to go shopping: We are all being told to stay home as much as possible, and that means limiting trips to the grocery store. If you only need a few items, try to get by with what you have and plan a big shopping trip for later, when you can buy enough to last one to two weeks. Make a list to organize your trip so you can get in and out more quickly.

  • Don’t bring the whole family: It’s best to shop alone. This helps reduce the number of people going to stores, especially since some stores are now placing a limit on how many people can be in the store at any given time. If possible, leave your children at home to limit your family’s exposure and the exposure to other shoppers, as kids do not always keep their hands away from their faces or keep a mask on.

  • Use delivery if that is an option: Getting groceries delivered or using curbside pickup helps reduce the number of people going into stores and touching things, helps people follow social distancing rules, and helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 from people who are infected but don’t show symptoms. If you can’t get delivery, try shopping at off-peak hours and buy as many items as you can from one store instead of going to multiple stores.

  • Don’t go if you have symptoms: It’s very important not to go shopping if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough or shortness of breath), or if you think you have been exposed to the virus. In these cases, you should leave your home only to seek medical care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you need supplies, ask a friend or someone else to get them and leave them outside your home or use delivery.

At the store, the county recommends:

  • Sanitize your hands often: Use hand sanitizer before entering the store and after leaving. You should also consider using hand sanitizer before and after selecting produce items.

  • Touch only what you buy: Try not to touch things unnecessarily. That means don’t pick up multiple produce items to try to find the ripest one, as tempting as that may be. (If your store isn’t providing disinfecting wipes, bring your own wipes to use on carts, basket handles and card readers.)

  • Wear a mask: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people wear cloth face coverings when they go out, including when they go to the grocery store. This is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from people who are infected but don’t realize it because they aren’t symptomatic. (Do not take the mask off while shopping in the store and do leave it on until you get to your car.)

  • Practice social distancing: As with any public setting, you should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.

  • Don’t touch your face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.