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How to get your groceries and minimize risk during coronavirus pandemic

Delivery, curbside help with social distancing

SAN ANTONIO – Even as the new coronavirus spreads and stay home directives are in play, consumers still need to get groceries.

So how can you navigate the grocery aisles and stock the fridge and still minimize your risk of exposure?

Grocers have enacted several safe practices, including providing disinfecting wipes for your cart or basket.

Social distancing is key, and it can be challenging. But, health experts advise keeping six feet between yourself and other shoppers.

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H-E-B, for one, is controlling the flow of people entering the stores, which can result in occasional lines at peak times. However, there are fewer people to navigate and avoid inside, which can make shopping faster.

Ideally, seniors and medically-vulnerable people should have a relative or neighbor shop for them, according to health experts.

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Many grocers, including Target, Whole Foods, Walmart and Costco, are offering designated hours for seniors, typically age 60 and older. H-E-B is offering a senior delivery service through its partnership with Favor.

For people who prefer to stay home and out of the store, delivery and curbside pickup are increasingly popular options.

H-E-B is continuing to hire and train short-term employees to meet the unprecedented demand.

“We are working around the clock to train those folks and get them into stores,” said H-E-B spokeswoman Julie Bedingfield. “We are working very hard to to open the number of (delivery and pickup) slots. It’s evolving day by day."

With delivery services, avoid direct hand-off and let services drop off at your doorstep.

“We also ask if you are coming to pick up curbside, stay in your car,” Bedingfield said.

Employees are trained to communicate at a distance though the passenger side or rear of the vehicle.

Because of high demand, it’s a good idea to plan ahead in case delivery or pickup at any grocer is not available for a few days.

When you get your groceries home, you may be more comfortable wiping down cans and jars, although the FDA has said there is not evidence to support transmission of the virus from food packaging. You may also consider pouring contents of boxes into clean containers and tossing the boxes.

After unpacking groceries, it’s most important to wash your hands thoroughly and sanitize surfaces like countertops.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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