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Gloves at the grocery store? 5 must-know safety tips from Dr. Leana Wen

Grocery store trips are unavoidable for many Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore, explains the best ways to protect yourself.
Image: Cashiers wearing protective masks work in a grocery store in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn  on April 2, 2020 in New York City.
Cashiers wearing protective masks work in a grocery store in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 2, 2020 in New York City.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

Before the coronavirus pandemic, going to the grocery store was considered a mundane task. But now it has turned into a nerve-wracking ordeal for many Americans. Should you wear gloves? Should you disinfect your items? How do you minimize your time in the store?

Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski recently spoke to Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician, former health commissioner for Baltimore and leading voice in public health about the best grocery store safety tips to protect yourself and your family from coronavirus.

Here’s what she said:

1. Plan ahead.

Reduce your frequency of shopping to a minimum to limit your exposure risk. If you used to shop twice a week, try to shop once every two weeks. Keep a running list of items you need. Designate one person in your family to do the shopping; there's no reason to expose multiple people in your household.

2. Wear a mask.

Some states require this, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing a mask given the number of people who are asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. Save surgical masks and N95 masks for hospital workers; you can make a homemade cloth mask or use a scarf or bandanna that covers your mouth and face.

3. Bring hand sanitizer and wipes with you.

Wipe down your shopping cart handle. Don't touch your face; if you must in the store, use hand sanitizer first. You don't need to wear gloves; the key is to avoid touching a surface then touching your face.

4. When you get home, place your groceries in one location in your kitchen.

When you're done taking them out, wipe them down. Soap and water will do.

5. Wash your produce and follow general food-safety protocols.

COVID-19 is not a food-borne illness, so you're not going to get it from eating produce, but you should still wash your produce to prevent other illnesses. Cook meat to the recommended temperature for the same reason.