We asked Dr. Heather Young, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and UAMS, our top questions about going to the grocery store. She covered everything we wanted to know about masks, gloves and what to do with kids in tow. 

COVID-19 Grocery Store FAQ

LRF: In light of new CDC recommendations to wear masks in public, what are best-practices when it comes to materials and coverage?

Dr. Young: There’s not great data saying a certain thread count or material is better than the other. The basis for this is that a fabric mask is to catch the wearer’s secretions so you aren’t spreading your own germs to others. However, masks should not replace social distancing. Staying 6 feet away from other people is of utmost importance, and people shouldn’t get too comfortable just because they have a mask on and forget to keep their distance. Social distancing is essential! 

Check out this post for more on masks.

LRF: What are best practices for keeping hands clean in public areas?

Dr. Young: Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water very frequently, and especially after interacting with other people or objects. Try not to touch your face while you are in the store and touching things other people have touched. Ideally, you would clean your hands before going into the store, clean off your cart with a cleaning wipe, then collect your groceries and clean your hands again after you exit the store, as well as after you finish unloading your groceries.

LRF: Are there any benefits of wearing gloves to the store?

Dr. Young: Wearing gloves is very tricky. What frequently happens is that individuals will wear gloves, get germs on the gloves and then end up contaminating themselves while wearing the gloves. 

LRF: In general, is it a good idea to bring kids to the store right now?

Dr. Young: I would avoid it as much as possible, though I certainly understand this is a situation many people can’t get around because childcare can be difficult to secure. The ideal option would be to leave children at home when you go shopping or try to use grocery pick-up services that allow you to keep your children in the car. Children like to touch things and aren’t very good at washing their hands, which means they pick up germs and leave germs very easily. If you do have to bring children into the store, emphasize with them not to touch anything, keep them with you and have them use hand sanitizer frequently.  

LRF: Any other tips for running errands right now?

Dr. Young: Use curbside pickup/delivery/online ordering whenever able. Minimize your trips as much as you can. The goal would be to get out and get everything you can in one brief trip. By doing this, not only are you protecting your family, but also others who may be at higher risk of getting sick.