East Alabama Medical Center is encouraging Auburn residents to become "creative pantry chefs" and limit the number of trips to the grocery store only when it is absolutely essential for the next few weeks to help flatten the curve of the Covid-19 outbreak.
In other words, don't make a quick run to the grocery store because you might feel like eating ribeye steaks tonight or you ran out of coffee creamer.
"Now is not the time to go to a farmers market or hardware store to buy potting soil, flowers and other plants to create that backyard garden you have always wanted, but have never gotten around to doing," said an EAMC release.
EAMC offered the following tips when planning an essential grocery store trip:
• Schedule a pickup or delivery if possible, especially if you are at high risk.
• Only go to the grocery store when it is absolutely essential. Do not go out of boredom or wanting to get out of the house.
• Limit your grocery store visits to once per week or less, and try to go when there is not a large crowd (early in the morning or late at night).
• Only one person per household should go to the grocery store.
• Make a paper list of what you need and put your phone away while in the store so as not to contaminate it.
• Plan your trip with an idea of the route you will take in the grocery store to help limit the time spent in the building.
• Wash your hands before and after grocery shopping, and after unpacking your groceries at home. Gloves are still not recommended in most cases as they can carry the virus just as your hands can.
• Wear a fabric mask while in the grocery store.
• Wipe down your grocery cart handles with a disinfectant wipe before and after shopping.
• Only touch what you plan to buy.
• Keep a minimum of 6 feet between yourself and others while grocery shopping and in the checkout line. Avoid going down busy aisles until they have cleared.
• If you have a contact-less option to pay, such as Apple Pay, use it.
Practicing strict social distancing at this time is critical for a number of reasons:
"With Covid-19, to our knowledge, there's no one in the human population who has any immunity to the virus, so the percentage of people who are susceptible to Covid-19 is essentially 100 percent," said Andrew Pekosz, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "That's one of the reasons why some of the stringent public health measures are being put into place. There really is nothing else that can prevent this virus from spreading in the population outside of public health interventions like social distancing."
There are also currently no proven drugs to treat patients with Covid-19, and a vaccine is at least a year away from being available to the public.
Covid-19 might also not act like other respiratory viruses, which often don't transmit as well during the warmer, summer months.
"We don't know if Covid-19 will be very dependent on winter to effectively transmit, like the flu, or if it will find ways to effectively transmit throughout the year," said Pekosz. "If we look to the Southern hemisphere, in parts of South America and in Australia, we're seeing significant Covid-19 outbreaks even though this is their summer season. So we're expecting that the virus is going to be able to transmit here at least to some extent after the winter months."
To follow the latest updates and guidelines from EAMC, go to www.eamc.org/patient-and-guests/covid-19-information/.