For me this was a big deal, as I haven’t been shopping since the lockdown started, and the scary videos you see on YouTube about how to sanitize your groceries made me apprehensive. Plus I’ve just hit the “old people” age, though I’m healthy. But after an e-lecture by my surrogate mother Malgorzata about the need to stop worrying, I approached this calmly and resolutely as if I were assigned to enter a war zone, or, as I’ve put it, “About to cross the River Styx.”
I checked with my doctor earlier this week about the need for masks and gloves, and he said I needed neither so long as I didn’t touch my face; but he added that if I had anxiety about it, I should wear a mask (he knows me well). Actually, I donned a cheap mask, a pair of latex gloves, and I wiped off the shopping-cart handle with isopropyl alcohol.
The store was our giant local Jewel-Osco, and I went at 6:45 a.m. to ensure fewer people. Once inside, my worries abated, as there were very few people, almost none of them wearing protective gear. I made sure to stay 6 feet away from people, and proceeded to do a large buy of staples, including milk, bread, eggs, peanut butter, black beans (my go-to “quarantine food”, eaten with rice and other goodies). The stuff like milk and ice cream were wiped down with 70% ethanol before being put in the refrigerator, while the non-perishables are sitting in my car trunk for a day to help them decontaminate.
Outside the store, I removed my gloves and my mask, having mastered the technique of removing gloves without touching their outside. I avoided touching my face, and, at home, I did a big scrub of my hands and even put ethanol on my keys, as I’d driven my car. Much of this may be unnecessary, but it makes me feel safer. It wasn’t onerous.
One note: although all the employees were wearing masks and gloves, almost none of the few customers were wearing either. I think some of them thought that my mask meant that I actually had the virus, because they looked at me oddly and stayed well away from me. One woman wouldn’t even pass me in the aisle with her grocery cart (that, of course, is less than six feet apart), but she looked frightened, and I felt bad about that.
At any rate, I made it, and don’t have to go shopping for perhaps two more weeks. Only time will tell whether this outing got me infected, but I doubt it and I’m not going to worry about it.