Going to war: grocery shopping

March 25, 2020 • 10:30 am

I’m running a bit low on a few staples, and so must hie myself to the grocery store this week. I will shop between 6 and 8 a.m. to avoid the crowds, but I called my doctor to see if there were any extra precautions I should take. After I talked to him, I became frightened for the very first time during this pandemic. Can shopping really be that dangerous?

The doc’s advice (you can read more on his website, which currently has a four-part series of reports and advice on the coronavirus):

1.) Assume that everything you buy is contaminated with coronavirus, and deal with it accordingly.

2.) That means wiping down everything you buy with sanitizing wipes or Lysol—except, of course, for produce, which you must wash thoroughly. (He said he adds something to the produce-washing water, but I didn’t get what it was.)

3.) This is Jerry’s additional advice: Put your grocery bag and groceries aside for a few days, except for perishables, before handling them, as the half-life of the virus on paper or cardboard ensures that you can touch them after a day, while for metal or plastic it’s three days. But I hasten to add what the good doc said:

 If you can wipe the groceries down with a solution that kills the virus, you can eat them right away (by which I mean wipe the containers, not the actual food).

4.) Wash your hands when you get home and then after putting away groceries.

5.) Assume that the handles of your bags are contaminated, so don’t touch them after you wash your hands. Sanitize the handles if possible.

6.) There is no need to wear latex or other gloves in the store. The object is ultimately to avoid contaminating not your hands, but your face, where the virus enters through nose, eyes, or mouth. Ergo, if you touch something with gloved hands, and then touch those gloves to your face, you’re just as screwed as if you didn’t have gloves. And besides, you’d have to wash your hands anyway after you take your gloves off, for you’ll have touched the possibly-contaminated gloves while taking them off.  Deep-six the gloves, said the doc, and just wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.

Now I have half a small bottle of isopropyl alcohol that I can use to decontaminate stuff, but I’m 100% sure that when I run out I won’t be able to replenish it from the pharmacy. And a friend told me that because of hoarding, there’s no Lysol to be had. What is one to do?

Crikey, all because someone ate a bowl of bat soup a few months ago!


154 thoughts on “Going to war: grocery shopping

  1. Yeah I have no Lysol and just a bit of alcohol but soap and water is what is required. See if you can get your groceries delivered or if you can do curbside as well. I have a grocery delivery scheduled Saturday & I ordered for my parents so will drop off their stuff too.

    1. There is some good news from the UK:

      3.5m million new coronavirus tests have been ordered (with more to come), to be available via Amazon or the highstreet. It’s currently being trialled in Oxford. If it performs as advertised it could be available next week.

      “NHS workers or anyone else will be able to know if they have had the virus and are therefore immune, which means they could resume their normal lives, no longer having to work from home or keep their distance from other people.”

      I hope you over there aren’t far behind.

  2. The most amazing part of this story? That you were able to get your doctor on the phone.

    Note that if you handle everything with gloves, and then put it away and don’t touch it for a few days, there’s no need to wipe it down with Lysol wipes (which are no longer available anywhere, in any case).

      1. That’s the process we’ve generally been following; just put stuff in a closet for a day. Or wash it if it’s produce.

        I also figure that any process that’s going to kill salmonella and other “typical” food pathogens will likely kill this. So with anything that’s going to end up in the oven at 350+ degrees for more than 20 mins, I just take regular precautions (which includes a lot of before, during, and after handwashing anyway, because, again, salmonella).

  3. We are not even going to the store anymore, although it is relatively safe here in southern CA. Many stores in our area offer buy-on-line, pick up at store. They bring it to the trunk of your car. We had to wait about a week to get a delivery time! Of course, you still have to wipe things down that you receive in this way, but you do not come into contact with other people. I never realized I loved grocery shopping until it was gone.

  4. Good grief, Jerry! Now I’M totally freaked out. May you SURVIVE unscathed! If I live thru this plague (and your doc has convinced me that’s iffy at best), I want you around to continue your wonderful site. I’d send you some Lysol if I had any, which I don’t. Stay WELL!

    1. Fine glitter works pretty well to get the point across. Ironically – but also realistically – the most annoying part of that sort of demonstration is that no matter how hard you try to clean it away, you’re still finding it days later.

    2. Replacement for Lysol. Three tablespoons of Clorox bleach to one quart of water.

      I have a spray bottle full of it.

      1. That’s a good idea, but where did you get the recipe? It sounds quite a bit stronger than it probably needs to be. Bleach is killer stuff; I’d guess even 1 tablespoon/gallon is probably enough to kill most microorganisms. Though obviously contact time matters too.

    3. I find that works as a useful reminder for me. Also wearing a headband or bandeau to keep my hair off my face helps to cut down on the tendency to brush my hair out of the way.

  5. Walked to the neighborhood Walgreens yesterday morning. Bought two bottles of alcohol, and a can of Lysol. They previously told that the truck arrives on Tuesday and Thursday morning, so get there when the doors open, because the good stuff goes quickly

  6. Yes, it is exhausting trying to find anything. What are we supposed to clean and sanitize with if we do not have these supplies like Lysol or alcohol and cannot find any to buy? By the time I get home, strip down, clean shoes, bags, groceries, and take a shower I am upset and exhausted. It scares the hell out of me that I can’t find things like ground beef or butter or toilet paper. Very upsetting. Good luck to you and if you find any good advice on what to use to clean and sanitize with let me know please or if you find some we can order let me know please! Stay safe!

    1. Soap, soap, soap. Soap and water is best. You can soak produce in soap and water and clean things like oranges with it. You can also wipe surfaces with soap and water.

      1. Thank you, Diana! That is what I will use and if I have to go out to the store… I might fill up a cooler with water (for a mini travel-sink) and bring soap with me for my hands. It might sound nuts but it is better to be safe than sorry.

        1. I thought about that too but I decided to be hyper vigilant about not touching my face while out and when I get home wash wash wash my hands.

      2. I second that. Been washing even my greens in Method soapy water but I’m sure Dawn is safe too.

        If there’re no alcohol or lysol wipes or soapy water for when you’re out and about, maybe try to get hydrogen peroxide and look online for a recipe for dilution. Haven’t done this myself (just the isopropyl alchol and aloe vera solution but there’s now a shortage of those, I gather).

        Also you can dilute 99% isopropyl alcohol to make a 70% solution, fill up a spray bottle or just carry it in a travel size bottle. However, I just checked and I don’t see anymore isopropyl alcohol left on amazon. More might come later, as breweries are pitching in to address the shortage of hand sanitizer.


        Soap and water and physical distancing.

  7. Bleach, I believe is a good disinfectant. Diluted of course. I would use hot water and detergent where possible if all else is unavailable. Waiting a few days is another option.

    I like the idea of wearing gloves, leather or cloth or whatever, which helps you remember not to touch your face.

    Did the doctor say anything about wearing a mask – either N95 or other?

      1. Good info. Bleach is a bit fragile and will lose effectiveness once opened. We bought a gallon of denatured alcohol from the hardware store for use in disinfecting, as well. That should be effective for ever.

          1. What?!

            If it’s a *magic* marker, draw it all over the face and hands! Teeth! Tongue!… huff it!

            *this should not be taken as medical advice – please consult a professional when using Magical markers *

        1. I say get a mask and draw vicious teeth on it so you are extra scary! Also paste angry eyebrows over your regular eyebrows. If this doesn’t work, combine with my Lysol spraying tips elsewhere in this thread.

          1. Switch from Lysol to alcohol spray bottle. You can ignite it briefly at the front of an isle and have the whole isle to yourself. 😎

            1. That combo with the mask & magic marker teeth is really perfect. You’ll be spending the rest of the pandemic in jail, but that doesn’t take away from its perfect image.

      1. Wearing a mask can keep you from touching your face.
        Unless you are not used to wearing them, in which case you will touch it all the time.

        1. “Wearing a mask can keep you from touching your face.”

          To some extent, but not from touching/rubbing your eyes.

              1. Yeah those shields I like a lot. I want to wear one all the time, plague time or no.

    1. Don’t neglect a plain face shield as might be used in fall leaf cleanup or chainsaw work. Dusts – which in my view are also surfaces- have less chance of settling on mucous membranes, or splashes getting on the face, or indeed hands touching the face. I don’t see how that won’t decrease risk a reasonable amount. I mean, you can just try it and see it works.

  8. The virus is most dangerous in airborne form where it can get into your lungs. The danger on surfaces is that you touch the surface and then your nose and breathe it in. Food ingestion is not considered a danger. That is why take out food has not been shut down. The virus on food will be killed in the cooking process or by the acid in your stomach.

    Your doctor’s suggestions sound fine if you want perfect certainty against the virus, but who lives with perfect certainty? You could be killed crossing the street to the grocery store. People need to practice sensible risk management.

    1. “People need to practice sensible risk management” would be an amusing grave marker. I thought “Meh, it’ll be fine” would also be a good one as I say that a lot.

      1. Well, you can always just stay in bed and die of starvation. There is a sensible level of risk management. Informing yourself about how the virus works helps you practice it.

        1. Ok well wasn’t criticizing just making my funny grave marker joke so didn’t think I deserved that snark.

            1. well I’ll probably die from this anyway. They won’t triage me because I have had cancer and then everyone wins. Hurray

              1. I am in the same boat, and older than you. I stay at home mostly, wash my hands a lot, and am careful when I go out. Stay safe, Diana.

      1. Converting not concerting- … easy V->C typo on tiny screen. can’t blame autocorrect on that one.

  9. According to Nextdoor.com, there are still grocery delivery services working. They are all busy hiring unemployed restaurant workers so may be getting up to speed again. This means much less exposure for you as you can pay ahead of time by credit card and have the delivery person leave it all outside your door. Then you only need to apply your soap and water, etc. A much shorter time to not touch your face.

  10. Up here in the Twin Cities most grocery stores are reserving the first hour or two to us senior citizens on the theory that the stores have been sanitized over night and are therefore cleaner. Don’t go right when they open, though, since there will be a line and a non-social distance stampede. We try to show up about half an hour after that first wave has ebbed. All store employees are wearing latex or similar gloves in our experience. While this may seem somehow more sanitary it’s hard to see how the gloves don’t become contaminated themselves. Other than the washing hands and trying not to touch our face recommendations of your doctor we aren’t going to the trouble of sanitizing everything. I suppose it’s a fatalistic attitude but that seems to be a rather impossible endeavor. Not sure what it’s like in Chicago, but ordering for delivery demands patience. Delivery times can be days out, depending on where you order and what you want. Good luck. Stay ducky.

    1. My wife went to the senior hour shopping last week and the store was jammed, with lines forming outside by people waiting to get in. Then, people crowd the checkout line and get much too close. Not sure that senior hour is really any safer.

      1. I have at least one of all the major grocery stores within a five mile radius.

        My store has a “seniors hour” policy, but it’s only a guideline and not enforced at all. Anyone of any age can shop when the store is open.

      2. Yikes. I’ve heard the opposite here. I guess it depends when you go (I’ve found government announcements insight panic).

        1. I, too, am frequently assailed by insight panic. It’s coming on now. Yikes!

          I wonder if Hili has ever experienced it? Probably not; she’s too chill, as they say.

  11. 6.) There is no need to wear latex or other gloves in the store

    I thought this all along. The only reason to wear gloves is if it were transmitted through the skin.

    1. Yeah the glove thing always annoys me because now you’re going to get virus on the gloves and touch everything with them. It’s better to get it on your hands and wash it off.

      1. I wear my leather gloves when I go out (only once this week). I figure, if you touch a door knob or a shopping cart handle, you won’t get contaminant on your skin. The good thing is, I am reminded not to touch my face when I wear gloves. Removing gloves without contamination is easy if you know how. Take one glove off half way. Use it to remove the other glove. The virus will only survive for 24 hours, presumably, on a porous surface like leather. Then, I wash my hands, just to be sure. Caution: this is just based on my intuition.

      2. Well, the proper methodology for wearing latex gloves would be to take them off as soon as you’re away from the contaminated surface, preventing surface->hand->face transfer by “throwing your hand in the trash” after it touches the surface but before it touches your face.

        Having said that, given most people touch their face unconsciously all the time, yeah, wearing gloves is probably not going to give any additional protection to most people.

        1. I find gloves are a good way to remind yourself not to touch your face. It’s like tying a string around your finger to not forget something, or, putting a dot on each thumb with a marker.

        2. Yes that’s the proper way to use gloves and masks as well but people don’t use them that way and they become useless really.

  12. I managed to order 2 3M full-face mask respirators a few weeks ago, and I just got home from the store where I rocked my respirator and gloves. I go first and pick up about 5 paper bags, and load everything into the bags in the cart. I ask the checkout person to use hand sanitizer before they handle my groceries and then have them scan and immediately load them into a new bag, not on the conveyor belt. They have been really nice at my Whole Foods, they are young but compassionate. When I get home I wipe everything down with anti-bacterial wipes and I throw the paper bags away (I’ve always used my own bags, but not now).

    When I first started wearing the respirator to the store it felt like over-kill, however every time I’ve gone someone has coughed near me, and I feel safe in my little face cocoon. I feel that wearing gloves makes you less likely to touch your face, not that I can tough mine anyway with the mask.

    Be safe WEIT friends!

    1. If you are comfortable with taking those steps, then good for you.
      Hopefully, people will just assume that you are a high-risk person (which you might well be.)

      My son has bad hay fever, and he has always worn full biohazard gear when forced to mow or work in the fields. We just got used to it.

    2. You have to be careful re-using an N95 mask. You can easily cross contaminate. They retain all the germs they filter, so your protection can easily infect you if you don’t handle it right.

      If you do have to reuse masks, it is possible to kill the virus by baking the mask.

      “4C Air confirms using 70 degree C hot air in an oven (typical kitchen-type of oven will do) for 30min, or hot water vapor are additional effective decontamination met”

      Don’t use bleach or alcohol to disinfect the mask as it increases the porosity of the masks, and the bleach continues to outgas.


    3. Are you referring to the things that resemble gas masks as opposed to the rippled cone with the bendable metal band that goes over the nose and mouth? I want to find a good half-face respirator but I know virtually nothing about them and have no idea what you’re referring to when you say your respirator uses a cartridge. What sort of cartridge and what are they used for?

      My interest is primarily to protect myself from pollution caused by wildfires. I have lung disease and two summers ago, I had to be taken to ER and was in the hospital over a week because of a breathing crisis brought on by smoke from a wildfire that had drifted 200 miles from the actual fire, and lingered in our area for days, maybe a week, like a heavy fog, for several days one could barely see more than a few feet away. All I had then was a N-95 nose cone, which I had to take off in order to breathe! It was either suffocate in the mask or take it off and breathe horribly polluted air. Soon I could barely breathe at all and had to be carted away. Now I have an additional reason to get one. Do you have any recommendations about the half-face respirators?

      1. When they’re available again, I would get the 3M 6300 mask (in your size), and any of the P100 cartridges that filter particulates. They have .pdf charts on their site. I’ve been wearing my half-face one a lot lately in the yard the pollen is so heavy here. Any time I’m around any chemicals I wear it – even cleaning the shower. The 6000 has the additional full-face shield with a separate seal that covers your eyes.

        1. Don’t apologize, all the information you’ve given here is extremely useful. I’ve read info from various online sources but for me it often takes more than reading specs and manufacturers’ booklets; having input from someone who has a personal familiarity with the item in question takes things out of the realm of the purely abstract and I can get a much better sense of things.

          I’d better get one soon, before they become items of pandemic chic and Gwyneth Paltrow sells them at speculators’ prices on Goop. I do not want to end up in ER again; and the way things are going, because the weather’s becoming more extreme, the coronavirus might well still be circulating when wildfire season starts in California, a very nasty pulmonary cocktail.

          BTW,I enjoyed “Tadpole bonanza” as I do all your videos, though I don’t always comment on them. I find the Wood Stork very amusing, and dig the footwork.

          1. Thank you! Headed back out in the swamp shortly.

            I think it will be a while before they’re available again. Meanwhile you can read on the 3M website and see what size you’ll want. There are places you might be able to back order one. My impression is that these are a lot easier to breathe through than the one you had.

    1. For those who understand German, I can also recommend this audio blog of daily interviews with the chief virologist of the Berlin Charité, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals.


      Transcripts of all episodes can be found here:


      This is one of the best sources of up-to-day scientific information about SARS-CoV-2 that I know of, and Prof. Drosten presents them in a calm but nonetheless outspoken way.

  13. Agreed, it isn’t worth the risk to shop. Thousands of hands touch everything in the stores and it is the last place you want to be if you want to avoid the virus. We are having 100% of our needs delivered using a variety of services because hoarding has made it difficult to obtain the things we need from one place. Delivery queues can range from days to weeks here in Austin. We’ve been using Whole Foods Prime, Instacart (for local co-op), Drizly for alcohol. In addition, we have a CSA farm box that we have been getting once a week for the past decade or longer delivered to our doorstep. They have also been experiencing hoarding by customers but they have been very reliable.

    Our process is: we put on rubber gloves and go outside to open the boxes. Remaining outside we clean any packaged items with Clorox wipes and put loose fruits and veggies into a plastic bag for thorough washing when we go back inside. Leave any boxes or other there for a few days before recycling.

    This sounds like a pain but it is a small price to pay. The virus is sticky! Here’s a great video: http://www.openculture.com/2020/03/how-a-virus-spreads-and-how-to-avoid-it.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

    Stay home and stay safe.

    1. Generally, viruses degenerate when heat is added. I have not heard anything specific about this 2019 novel coronavirus.

  14. From what I have read, refrigeration: no. Freezing: maybe but it’s not a failsafe.
    But if you are cooking frozen food the heat will kill the virus.

    1. A few years ago they were able to recover and sequence Spanish flu virus from frozen burials in northern Alaska.

      And viral transmission has been demonstrated from animals frozen in permafrost to ca. 60000 ya. So I don’t put any faith in my freezer!

  15. In Spain we are told to prepare a disinfectant solution mixing 25 ml of bleach in 1 litre of water, and clean everything that comes from the outside with this, even spraying it (although I haven’t been able to get any spray bottle… nor pure bleach, just had to buy bleach with detergent for clothes.. it’ll have to do)
    Hope it helps.
    Take care, Jerry, and all the others. You keep me company as usual in these strange days.
    All the best.

  16. The most likely transmission is going to be from your hands to the eyes, nose and mouth. So concentrate on that. Keep a distance from other people is also important. So even if a live virus is on something you brought home, it is not going to get you if you keep the hands away from those key areas. Everything else is fine if it makes you feel good. I have also heard the suggestion – act as if you have the virus and you do not want to pass it to others. Good luck…

    1. Just get a can of Lysol spray & walk constantly spraying it around your body. The good part is no one comes near you, the bad part is you’ll probably get another illness from the Lysol and you may be asked to leave the store so get your shopping done as fast as possible. 😀

      1. To me, the main advantage of wearing a face mask while I am out is that people think I am infectious and stay the hell away from me. I’m not sure it does any other good.

      2. So, basically, just do what I do with AXE body spray?

        I think that also drives off the virus. Well, assuming the virus and women behave the same.

      3. Fun fact about Lysol is that it used to be advertised as a feminine hygiene product. It was supposed to keep a woman healthy and prevent her vagina odor from repelling her husband.

        This was in the 1920s.

    2. Some of us can’t always keep from being in close proximity to others. Some of us must use public transportation; sometimes one finds oneself in crowded spaces despite one’s best efforts, so direct transmission through coughing or sneezing in the proximity of someone’s space, or even breathing close to someone must not be downplayed. Further, the virus can remain airborne for about half an hour to three hours, so I wouldn’t even trust being in an empty public elevator.

  17. I wouldn’t dismiss gloves. It depends how they are used. I keep a dedicated pair within reach to get gasoline, or otherwise touch dirty stuff, and then invert them and store them stashed away. Then I can touch the steering wheel and not worry. At some point, get a new pair. Not to promote one store but while at Harbor Fright, might get a few.

  18. Perhaps I can help. Here’s what I’m doing:
    – Use garage as an antechamber to a covid-free home
    – All groceries and bags are placed on spread out tarp
    – Remove groceries from bags. Either dump clean contents out of suspect contaminated outer packaging into a clean bag and take inside OR dilute 3% household hydrogen peroxide (doesn’t smell bad like bleach does) 10-fold to 0.3% (store in dark), put into spray bottle and spray outer packaging to disinfect. Wait 3h, then take inside. Alternatively, buy some Everclear and dilute it 1:1 or use the cheapest available vodka and spray that. Note this introduces a fire hazard! Open garage to air out. Effectiveness of these against coronavirus found here:
    – Leave all packaging on tarp in garage, then dispose of after 3 days.
    – Always immediately wash hands in garage before entering house or immediately upon entering without touching anything. Disinfect door handles and faucet handles each time.

  19. From what I learn from doctors in Germany, one mustn’t be worried about the surfaces as much as about droplets in the air we share with others. Virologist Drosten explains why in this interview.

  20. I live in a rural area – no store delivers here. When I take my weekly trip to town for supplies, I put a big black dot on each thumbnail with a Sharpie. My wife laughs, but it works to remind me not to touch my face. When I get back to the car I disinfect bags, credit cards, wallet, car, keys, hands, and anything else in sight with alcohol and bleach from two spray bottles kept in the car. So far, so good….

    1. “I put a big black dot on each thumbnail with a Sharpie.”

      Possibly some of the best advice.

      “So far, so good….”

      Or you simply haven’t been exposed.

  21. I do use gloves at the grocery and then quarantine what I buy for a few days.

    The reason I use glove is merely a game of probabilities: I think less chance that I could something on part of my hand that I would miss washing well.

    So, I put them on before going into the grocery store. When I go pay with a credit card, I take one off to pay. Before I leave, I take the other one off.

    Groceries go in the trunk into quarantine. I disinfect what I touch inside the car.

    I put on a glove to take out the groceries and put them into quarantine.

    What I am doing is lowering probabilities, I can only hope

      1. Since the topic is going this way, um… well… depending on the application, flame is a guaranteed dry surface sterilization technique, but there’s a lot of issues with applying that technique…. and I suppose with various surfaces as well, as well as where it is done – for example the flame draft could simply carry particles up to one’s face…

    1. Extremely effective antiviral – see the link in my post above.
      Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is a slightly stronger oxidant than hydrogen peroxide but both at very dilute concentration destroy viruses in minutes. Contact time matters but these will work more quickly and effectively than soap or alcohol. (but don’t replace soap or alcohol for hand cleaning). I’m a Ph.D chemist and know a fair amount about virology.

  22. I wish I had an answer for how to keep us all safe, but I think no one does. We live with the same potential for getting Covid-19, but are not all of the same ages and health conditions and do not livein the same environments. I don’t think there’s one size fits all but, can follow general safe principles.

    I am 79 years old. Still recovering from a fall that broke my right humerus (I’m right handed). Was recently diagnosed with Anemia and receiving iron infusions. Have had AFIB for years and recently acquired a pacemaker. Had Asthma as a child which made me cold and flu prone throughout the rest of my life. No other more serious health problems.

    My son is staying with me and I mostly remain at home. We were well stocked with supplies. If anything more is needed, he goes out to get it at the least busy time he can. He says that if he gets the virus, he will remain alone and I am to go to another home we own or to my daughter’s and son-in-law’a who have a bonus room (or mother-in-law apartment).

    We have read as much as we can about the virus, what’s going on in the world, what’s being done about it and try to take precautions so we don’t spread the virus if we get it. Our president is a danger in what he tells us. Totally untrustworthy. Watch Governor Cuomo of New York for straight talking, factual information (in addition to trustworthy scientific sources.)

  23. When out, I had been wearing latex gloves and washing, including tasing the gloves, and wiping down public surfaces with either the sanitizing lotion or alcohol based lens wipes (Zeiss brand). I can reconsider the gloves, but it does help prevent me from touching my face. Can’t stand latex on m’face.

  24. When getting home delivery or curbside delivery, what is the etiquette of tipping?

    Is it a percent or specific amount?

    I’m assuming delivery people are not highly paid and should be tipped.

      1. Tips are added to the bill when you order. It goes on your credit card account.

        And 20% is appropriate, IMO, here in the US and A.

        1. 20% is precisely what I’d put – for table service at a restaurant. My haircut gets way extra because it’s so infrequent and it’s not a transactional relationship- it’s long term.

          I don’t know what makes 20% apply to every case. I’d estimate something that would buy a coffee in some scenarios – five, ten bucks.

        2. That’s interesting. Here in Germany, 10% (satisfied) to 15% (very satisfied) are common. But I’m wildly guessing that the average wage of service personnel is higher here than in the US. Does someone know if it is?

          1. Here in Germany all decent waiters have a decent income , they are „angestellt“ with a fixed salary. Tips are on top and the question is still on whether this „additional“ income is taxable. Presently with all restaurants and pubs closed most of them will go into „Kurzarbeit“, i.e., not losing their jobs.

  25. I suppose it’s better to be overcautious than undercautious, but this sounds a bit extreme to me. As was pointed out, the main issue is to keep the virus away from your face. So, wash your hands thoroughly after you shop and after you handle the things that you purchase on surfaces that had been exposed to the outside world. I suppose keeping those things separate from your other goods for a bit of time after purchase as someone mentioned above so there less chance of cross-contamination is not a terrible idea, though if you live by yourself and keep things orderly that may not be necessary, depending on how tidy you are. If these are shopping bags that you reuse, then they may indeed need to be sterilized somehow…I’m not sure what they’re made of, though. It may be reasonable to just use disposable plastic bags for right now. I agree with your doctor about the gloves. More often than not, I think gloves make people less careful. Masks, similarly, are more likely I suspect to lull people into a false sense of security than to protect.

    The virus, of course, does not have a mind of its own, and will not leap from one surface to another without help, nor will it leap from a surface to your face. I’m reminded of the David Mitchell point that there are children who are reckless and children who are timorous, and safety warnings are generally geared toward the reckless, since they don’t pay attention. But this leaves the timorous children afraid to leave their beds, and that feeling often sticks around throughout life.

    I suspect your doctor was giving you warning geared toward the reckless, which is the right and proper thing to do, of course, just in case. But you don’t strike me as the reckless or cavalier type, so I don’t think you need to be quite as afraid as he wanted to make you feel. Soap and water is your single biggest weapon, as in most things. And do try not to touch your face after being out without washing your hands in between, which is easier said than done, but…

  26. Shopping bags: Use cloth ones and wash them on 90 celsius after use. (maybe 60 celsius would be enough, I don’t know).

    1. Here in Seattle, the former covid epicenter, most grocery stores will not accept reusable bags. You get paper, but they are waiving the mandatory 5 cents fee.

      1. Similarly, craft breweries here are open for sale of canned beer but will no longer fill reusable growlers.

  27. Here in Seattle, the former covid capital, the Governor has shut down all non-essential services and made a list. It is a bit humbling to discover that school teachers and college professors are non-essential but pizza delivery persons are.

  28. For on-the-go sanitizing, I carry a small spray bottle filled with alcohol (91 or 70%. I can use it to spray things such as elevator buttons and keypads, spritz a bit on my hands after grabbing something such as a bus strap or pole, spray it on cardboard, fabric, and other surfaces to quickly disinfect them. For my purposes this works far better and is far easier to use than hand sanitizer, I just whip the bottle out and spray. If I’ve been in even relatively close proximity to someone, I spray the air in front of me, since the virus can linger in air for hours.

  29. If I’m in a jam, I’ll rub my thumb and fingertips or hands on my clothing real fast to get them as hot as possible. I still cannot find where I read this – I thought it was the Red Cross but that is elusive.

  30. Not scientifically proven at all, ha ha, but my common sense tip is to take items from the back of the shelves, not the front. You figure whatever is towards the front has a much higher likelihood of having been picked up and put back. If you go a couple of rows deep, possibly hasn’t been touched in weeks, or at least only by people who stock the shelves. Also remember that (as I’m sure you know) while you should take precautions with all things, a can of beans from the back of the shelves is probably much lower risk than things like the credit card checkout, where dozens of people just before you have pushed the same buttons, used the same stylus, etc. I think it’s those types of communal items that you want to be extra careful with.

    1. “Not scientifically proven at all, ha ha, but my common sense tip is to take items from the back of the shelves, not the front.”

      Since you could be sick, you are potentially contaminating all the items you push past, so your worries are sort of self-fulfilling.

  31. My nephew uses Ultra-violet light to sterilise his breathing aid. I have read of UV-C being used in operating theaters too.
    Eg search for this:

    Portable Ultra Violet Light Sterilizer

    (Insert quack Miranda warning here)

    1. I think the UVC is probably okay but alcohol is even better. I use a UVC sterilizer in my aquarium. I need to replace the light every 6 months or so but not an issue with the UVC sterilizers because the light isn’t on continuously like in the aquarium.

    2. 1. basic information about ultraviolet light :


      please note the designations of UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C, and the reactions thereof.

      2. ultraviolet light is in sunlight. therefore, placing objects in sunlight will expose them to plenty of all forms of ultraviolet and beyond.

      3. consumer applications of ultraviolet light are usually designed in specific ways, and importantly will offer ultraviolet absorbing goggles as personal protective equipment, for example the lamps (usually LED based, I recently learned) in auto stores to find anti freeze or refrigerant in cars will have the goggles next to them. For biological systems, there is a lot to discuss – UV is in fact used as a mutagen on purpose in some cases – so, not sterilizing. However, it can sterilize. One must know what they are doing.

      4. my personal assertion : ultraviolet light must be taken seriously. for instance – just because a UV lamp looks like a conventional flashlight does not mean it can be used like a flashlight. For example, Mark Rober shined it in his eyes and on his face.

  32. I just noticed the bag advice; I’d urge the hanging of bags in the direct sun, if no washing is possible or feasible etc.

    Blast the bugs!

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