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Clarifying Some Practical Advice For Protecting Ourselves From Coronavirus With EMU Epidemiologist

Mar 30, 2020

Wiping Sponge in Hand
Credit pngimg.com

Washing our hands, picking up groceries, and wearing rubber gloves may sound simple, but we may not have been getting all the information we need in light of the continuing spread of COVID-19.  WEMU's Lisa Barry checks in with Eastern Michigan University epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Health Administration Dr. Beverly Mihalko, who reminds us of the best practices when it comes to these and other daily activities while we all "stay safe and stay home."

EMU epidemiologist Dr. Beverly Mihalko
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Dr. Mihalko says experts are "right on target," as far as the number of COVID-19 infections in the country.  The virus is spread primarily through close contact with others and droplets that come from coughing and sneezing.  The number of cases has grown, due to people not respecting the social distancing recommendation.  Yet, she considers the term "social distancing" a bit confusing, so "physical spacing" would be a better way to describe what people should be doing now through the end of April. 

As of now, no evidence of whether or not the virus is transmitted through food or water exists.  Still, for those with concerns about grocery shopping and ordering takeout food, Dr. Mihalko has these recommendations:

For grocery shopping:

  • Pay attention to what you're touching and hand contact.
  • Bag your own groceries, but there is no medical evidence that COVID-19 can be spread when others do the bagging.
  • Though there's no "official" recommendation, wipe groceries down with sanitizing wipes.
  • Wipe down the surfaces of your car (door, steering wheel, etc.) when you come home.
  • Wash your perishables (meat, produce, fruits & vegetables).

For ordering takeout:

  • Pick up curbside or deliver to home and have your orders on your porch.
  • Pre-pay for everything online, including tip.
  • Place the food in sink, NOT on the countertop or table.
  • Place food on clean plates.
  • Throw away all packaging.

Now, wearing rubber gloves frequently is a good idea, but Dr. Mihalko says they may not provide all of the protection you think.  In the end, it's just better to not touch your face and to pay attention to what you're touching. 

Keep in mind that we're on a "frightening trajectory" with the number of COVID-19 infections.  So, never forget to wash your hands frequently and obey the "stay home stay safe" order.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu