grocery stores

New data released by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union shows that among the grocery store workers it represents, 10,000 have been infected by or are known to have been exposed to coronavirus and 68 have died from it. At least 3,257 have been infected with the virus, the union estimated on Friday.

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Residents of Park, Sheridan and Campbell County went to grocery stores and pharmacies more often during March. That's according to Google data from users who have opted in to location history for their Google account.

The vast majority of the country is under lockdown right now. But stay-at-home orders come with a few exceptions — like grocery shopping.

Many of us are still venturing out to stock up on food and toiletries. But what's the safest way to shop during this pandemic? And what should you do once you've brought your haul home?

We asked infectious disease, virology and food safety experts to share their tips about safe grocery shopping — and what you can stop worrying about.

Know the dangers — focus on the people, not the food

Not all Americans can stay home during the pandemic.

Millions of essential workers are showing up for their jobs at warehouses, food processing plants, delivery trucks and grocery checkout lines. Work that is often low-paid, and comes with few protections, is now suddenly much more dangerous.

America has a new appreciation for these workers. Bill Osborn, a dairy clerk at a Giant in La Plata, Md., says he never used to be thanked for his job. Ever.

But now that has changed.

Walmart plans to start checking workers' temperatures as they clock in and to offer them gloves and masks, the company said on Tuesday as it announced a series of new measures to safeguard against the coronavirus.

Charlize Branch

Ethel Branch is the former attorney general of the Navajo Nation. A few weeks ago, when she went grocery shopping in Flagstaff, Arizona, she noticed that the shelves were already pretty bare. That worried her. For shoppers from the nearby Navajo Nation, a grocery store can be hours away.

Walk into many grocery stores these days, and you’ll see two things: crowds and empty shelves. You may also notice narrow aisles and checkout lines that make it hard to practice the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While many businesses are shutting down to help stop the spread of COVID-19, grocery stores don’t have that luxury. And grocery workers like cashiers don’t make that much - at most, around $15 an hour. But like health care workers, they’re considered essential.

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Grocery store shelves across our state are empty due to stockpiling and panic-buying. Many grocers are responding by making special accommodations for the elderly, immunocompromised, and others at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.