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COVID-19 safety tips for essential errands

By Dr. Federico Sanchez, a health enews service from Advocate Aurora Health

Taking steps to reduce COVID-19’s contagion presents new challenges in daily tasks, such as buying food at the supermarket, deliveries and takeout, getting fuel, or going to the bank. But following these measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help keep you safe.

Tips for grocery shopping

  • Stay home if sick

Avoid shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

  • Order online or use curbside pickup

Order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup (if possible).

Only visit the grocery store, or other stores selling household essentials, in person when you absolutely need to. This will limit your potential exposure to others and the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Protect yourself while shopping

Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.

When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).

If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.

Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.

Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.

After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer.

When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill. There is no evidence that food or food packaging play a significant role in spreading the virus in the United States.

Deliveries and takeout

  • Limit in person contact if possible

Pay online or on the phone when you order (if possible).

Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after accepting deliveries or collecting mail

After receiving your delivery or bringing home your takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.


  • Bank online when possible

Ask about options for telephone or virtual meetings to use banking services.

Use drive-thru banking services, automated teller machines (ATM), or mobile banking apps for routine transactions that do not require face-to-face assistance as much as possible.

Look for any extra prevention practices being implemented by the bank, such as plexiglass barriers for tellers or bankers, staff wearing cloth face coverings, or physical distancing signs in the lobby.

Wear a cloth face covering when doing any in-person exchanges and unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people – and make sure that bank employees and other people inside the bank are also wearing cloth face coverings.

Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after any deposit, withdrawal, exchange, drive-thru visit, or use of an ATM.

Wash your hands thoroughly when you arrive home or to your destination where a restroom is available.

Getting Gas

  • Use disinfecting wipes on handles or buttons

Use disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons before you touch them (if available).

After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home or somewhere with soap and water.

Use our COVID-19 Symptom Checker or call your doctor if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath. Starting with our symptom checker will quickly let you know what to do next.

Dr. Federico Sanchez is founder of the Aurora Cancer Care Spanish-speaking clinic.

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