March 27, 2020 — We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and it feels like every interaction we have could lead to some way to get the coronavirus. Groceries, deliveries, takeout food — can we bring them into our homes safely?
If you followed every bit of advice out there, you’d only leave your home encased in plastic wrap, and you’d swab down everything you touch with bleach several times a day. We consulted experts to find out what will really make a difference.
The first thing to understand: Because COVID-19 is so new, no conclusive research exists about what works. There is no absolute truth here. Joseph Vinetz, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at Yale University, believes we should do the best we can and not get too caught up in taking every possible precaution.
“I haven’t seen one iota of evidence that grocery shopping, newspapers, or packages have ever introduced an infection to somebody. It might happen, it could, but there are so many objectionable messages — obsessiveness, socioeconomic class,” he says. “There’s nothing perfect in this world, and to try to get to that level of sanitary pristineness is counterproductive.”
Vinetz advises staying home as much as possible. He offers a few basic precautions for when you must go out:
- Wash your hands a lot.
- Use sanitizer frequently while you’re out (if you can).
- Stay 6-8 feet away from other people.
- Spray or wipe down the outside of reusable bags.
“Any time you’re coming into contact with a place that many people have touched, you should be careful,” he says.
His grown son disagrees, choosing to follow a stricter regimen. And that’s OK, Vinetz says. “I’m sympathetic to everyone who’s worrying about this invisible miasma that’s threatening all of us. All I can say is, use your common sense, don’t think too hard, and try to enjoy your time at home. This too shall pass.”