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Headed Out? How to Stay Healthy When Running Essential Errands

Posted on by Blog Administrator

 

A restaurant drive-thru

Millions of people living in the United States are being told to stay at home to help slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

While these stay at home orders can be different by state (contact yours to learn more about the order where you live), the message is the same—avoid travel, needless shopping trips, and social visits. In other words, do not leave home unless you must. And if you must, wear a cloth face covering and keep a safe physical distance of at least 6 feet between you and other people when in public places.

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy when running essential errands to places like grocery stores or pharmacies to shop for personal needs and refill prescriptions, restaurants to pick up takeout, and the doctor’s office.

Personal needs shopping

Home delivery is the safest choice for buying groceries; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to prepare and protect your health and others’.

Groceries

  • Stay home if you are sick with a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Ask someone else to go shopping for you. Taking care of a family member, friend, or neighbor is considered an essential errand under most stay at home orders.
  • Avoid peak shopping hours. Shop early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds. Typically, the most crowded times are midday on weekends and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays when most people are getting off work.
  • Send only one person to the store. Prepare them with a cloth face covering, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfectant wipes, and a cotton swab to use at checkout.
  • Disinfect your shopping carts with a wipe.
  • Keep a safe physical distance (at least 6 feet) between you, other shoppers, and the cashier at the checkout line.
  • 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, and use hand sanitizer right after. A cotton swab can be used to enter your debit/credit card PIN number into the keypad. Just like with a used tissue, throw used swabs away in a lined trash can.
  • Sanitize your hands when you leave the store.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home, and then again after handling your groceries.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces like kitchen islands, tables, countertops, or other surfaces that came into contact with your groceries or grocery bags.

Prescriptions

  • Call prescription orders in ahead of time.
  • Use drive-thru windows, curbside pickup, mail-order, or other delivery services to fill prescriptions for yourself and your pets.
  • Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about getting an emergency supply of medications so you do not have to visit the pharmacy as often. Many states have emergency prescription refill laws that authorize pharmacists to dispense early refills of certain medications when under an emergency declaration.

Restaurants

As with groceries, the current best option is to eat the food that was delivered to your home. If that is not possible and you opt for takeout, your best bet is to order and pay for food online and have it delivered. When picking up your takeout is the only option, take steps to prepare and protect yourself and restaurant workers.

  • Send only one person to the restaurant. Prepare them with a cloth face covering and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfectant wipes, and a cotton swab (if available).
  • Do not leave your vehicle if possible. Pay online or over the phone when placing your order and use drive-thru and curbside pickup options.
  • If you must enter a restaurant to pick up your food, wear a face covering, keep a safe physical distance (at least 6 feet) between you and other customers, and use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad).
  • After 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 percent alcohol.

Doctor’s offices, urgent cares, & emergency departments

Most people with COVID-19 will experience mild illness and should recover at home. But there are good reasons besides COVID-19 to visit a doctor’s office, urgent care, or emergency department (ED). Injuries and illnesses that are not COVID-19 still happen every day.

If you can’t recover at home and telemedicine isn’t an option, a trip to a doctor’s office, urgent care, or emergency department is essential. So is the need to prepare and protect yourself and our health care professionals. Here’s how:

  • Call your doctor first, instead of going to the office or the ED, if you or a member of your household has signs of COVID-19. Call 911 if you believe it is an emergency.
  • Send only as many people to the doctor’s office as is necessary. Prepare them with a cloth face covering and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfectant wipes, and a cotton swab (if available). Children under age 2 should not wear a face covering.
  • Use disinfecting wipes on frequently touched surfaces such as handles, knobs, touchpads.
  • Keep a safe physical distance (at least 6 feet) between you and other patients.
  • 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. A cotton swab can be used to enter your debit/credit card PIN number into the keypad.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when you get home.

For more information on how to prepare and protect yourself when running essential errands, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/essential-goods-services.html

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

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3 comments on “Headed Out? How to Stay Healthy When Running Essential Errands”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Headed Out? How to Stay Healthy When Running Essential Errands

    This is a great forum to learn more about things to do regarding COVID19 as well as being a nurse.

    This is something we all have to do even more important when we find ourselves in healthcare, running errands. Anxiety and fear is something I am seeing a lot now from my patient population. It is essential to educate ourselves, patients, family, and friends regarding COVID19. This is now our new norm to walk outside with a face mask and disposable gloves. Then return home from our day and shower as if we are removing our skin. I thought I was alone in how I feel regarding CONVID19 because I worry that I may bring something home to my children and husband. Then I shared my feelings with my co-workers, and they felt the same. One of my co-workers stated, can they just shut everything down and do a thorough cleaning everywhere. Not sure if that is possible. Some great things to do regarding anxiety and fear that I have shared with my patients would be to find time to meditate and find a good book to read. I hope we all use these necessary tools to stay healthy as we maneuver through the city, and as we work daily.

    why recommend using and disposing of cotton swabs when one can use their key/s to punch in nos. on keypad. I use keys to do this when pumping gas, grocery shopping, Panera Bread, Starbucks, etc. anything that requires punching in nos.

    no need to dispose of swabs and create additional trash that businesses must dispose of

    thank you

    As a nurse, you tend to be more cautious when you’re out in public because you know how quickly germs spread and how unsanitary a lot of everyday things we touch when we go shopping. With the COVID-19 virus, people are wearing masks, gloves, using hand sanitizer, and wiping their carts down, however, they’re wearing their PPEs completely wrong. I have gone to grocery stores and saw a lady wearing gloves grab a cart, dig inside her purse for her wipes, wipe the cart handle down with regular wet wipes, and then proceed to push the cart into the store with the same gloves on that she had worn when she first touched the cart. People in the community need to be educated on how to sanitize objects properly and how to wear PPEs properly. These are really great tips on how to protect yourself, but people need to be taught how to wash their hands properly, how to wear PPEs properly, and how to sanitize objects without contaminating it. A lot of this stuff is stuff people should be doing already, even before COVID-19 hit and well after this crisis is over. People should be washing their hands after they touch things. People should be keeping a safe distance because you never know what someone else has and if it could be contagious.

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