Leaving Supermarkets Behind to Reduce COVID-19 Risk

Leaving Supermarkets Behind to Reduce COVID-19 Risk
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I used to enjoy grocery shopping. The retail circulars that hit my mailbox on Fridays meant a crack at new deals. Since COVID-19 arrived, supermarkets have become my least favorite essential place to go. The weekly ads now serve as a risk vs. benefit analysis of which stores I want to brave in the midst of a pandemic and with sarcoidosis.

There are still far too many unknowns about COVID-19 and the potential risk to our population. In May, the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research released preliminary results from a survey indicating sarcoidosis and medications prescribed for it weren’t leading to worse outcomes from COVID-19 infection. So far, there have been no formal studies, and analyses are lacking, according to the article “Patients with interstitial lung disease and pulmonary sarcoidosis are at high risk for severe illness related to COVID-19,” published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine in June.

That’s why I’m continuing to play it safe. Supermarket aisles continue to be the riskiest place I have to go. People enter without temperature checks, unlike my care at medical facilities. They ignore social distancing, walking right up next to me to grab items off shelves. Far too many wear masks with their noses out. MarketWatch shared a study that suggests exhaling out your nose may release a higher concentration of the COVID-19 virus than exhaling out your mouth. 

In mid-March, my efforts to replace grocery aisles with safer options began. A lot of other people had the same idea, which is why it took me until May to land a reservation for contactless grocery pickup. When I unpacked the bags it was like being on Food Network’s “Chopped” and having to concoct meals from unplanned ingredients. Only 21 of the 36 items I chose were in stock, which was never indicated during the ordering process. 

There was no wait to order from Panera Bread, which began offering staples like produce, milk, and bread in April. Unfortunately, again I didn’t find out items weren’t available until I arrived for contactless pickup. Getting water was much easier, even during pandemic shortages, by going to a beer distributor that put it right in the trunk of my car. 

The meat and produce sections of supermarkets have been the most difficult to shop in during the pandemic. There are no aisles, and the areas are always crowded, especially when markets began experiencing meat shortages. In May, I decided the risk and aggravation were no longer worth it for meat and moved to a vegetarian diet.

I then signed up for produce delivery from Misfits Market, which sources organic fruits and vegetables that farms and stores can’t sell. The produce I’ve received looks great, although some are smaller or larger than normal at times. 

(Photo by Athena Merritt)

In recent weeks, I noticed food retailers are relaxing policies that made social distancing easier while shopping. Gone are the one-way aisles, as are the employees stationed at doors to count incoming customers to mark limit capacity. There are also no longer any restrictions on coming and going at stores, which used to designate one set of doors for entrance only and others for exit only. 

With safeguards disappearing and the pandemic still raging, I plan to give even less of my business to supermarkets in the future. Elmhurst ships plant-based, shelf-stable milks and creamers. In May, PepsiCo launched two direct-to-consumer sites: Snacks.com sells Frito-Lay snacks, and Pantryshop.com sells bundled products from Quaker, Gatorade, Muscle Milk, Tropicana, and others. Boxed offers everything from groceries to household products in bulk. 

As far as I’m concerned, until threat of COVID-19 is over, the less time I can spend in grocery stores the better. 

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Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.  

  • Sky’s no limit: Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle has become the first Black female fighter pilot in the Navy’s 110-year history, People magazine reported. Swegle received her Wings of Gold during a ceremony on July 31. Hooyah!
  • That’s a cake?!: “Everything is cake” memes, which show off cakes decorated to look like ordinary items, are taking off in popularity, Delish reported. New Jersey cake artist Luke Vincentini has created more than 2,000, including cakes that looks like a sneaker, carton of eggs, a shampoo bottle, and a bag of Doritos. You can check out his jaw-dropping works on his Instagram page.

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Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

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